The High Court of Malawi has summoned Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to explain why it is refusing to furnish the Anti-Corruprion Bureau (ACB) with documents relating to Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s corruption case.
Making the order in Lilongwe yesterday, presiding Judge Redson Kapindu said MDF should appear before the court in camera through office of the Attorney General (AG).
The judge said: “It is only fair that parties should hear specific presentations from MDF and this court rules that the MDF may appear through AG or another representative on a date to be fixed.”
The ruling followed a request the ACB earlier made to the MDF after the defence submitted to the court that they needed the communication which includes a memo from MDF to President Lazarus Chakwera on procurement of armoured vehicles.
Lawyer for ACB Chrispin Khunga told the court that MDF refused to give the documents on the basis that they are highly classified and a threat and critical security information.
The court has since given the defence two days to file notice of hearing to be served on the AG Thabo Chakaka- Nyirenda and the MDF.
Earlier yesterday, defence lawyer Bright Theu accused the bureau of failing to fully use its powers under Section 11 of Corrupt Practrices Act (CPA) to prompt MDF to provide the documents.
Khumbo Soko, another defence lawyer, asked the court not to be swayed by emotions, but look at the law and the facts of the case.
Chilima is accused of receiving unspecified amount of money from United Kingdom-based Malawian businessperson Zuneth Sattar to influence award of contracts. Yesterday, a new charge sheet containing five counts was read out to the VP.
However, the defence legal team took turns in branding it as erroneous and not compliant with the CPA which demands that allegations involving money be sustained by proof.
But the bureau likened the money alleged to have been received or demanded from Sattar as an advantage, arguing that it was unspecified and cannot appear on the charge sheet.
ACB prosecutor Anafi Likwanya informed the court that the money cannot be sufficiently particularised as the bureau just wants to prove that a corrupt demand was made.
Chilima’s initial charge sheet particulars of the offence indicated that the Veep received a $280 000 bribe to assist Xaviar Limited to be awarded food ration packs contract by Malawi Police Service.
On disclosures sought by the defence, ACB prosecutor Chrispin Khunga also told the court that the bureau wrote the AG requesting letters on legal assistance by the United Kingdom and that the AG responded that no request was made and that such letters do not exist.
He said the ACB has furnished the defence with list of witnesses
But defence lawyer Bright Theu pointed out that they were also served with some e-mails from Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority, but there was no complete conversation and the defence is not clear on what resolution was made.
But ACB lawyer Victor Chiwala responded: “The defence wants the court to think that as ACB we are sitting doing nothing on non-compliance by MDF, they want to make us look incompetent, but we know what we are doing.”
The court has adjourned proceedings to a date to be fixed and the judge asked both parties to come prepared or risk having the case thrown out.