Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale has asked the High Court to revoke the bail of former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier Macdonald Kumwembe for allegedly being a “threat” to presiding judge Michael Mtambo.
Kachale made the application in the High Court in Lilongwe on Tuesday when the case of attempted murder and conspiracy to murder former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo came for hearing before Mtambo.
Kumwembe, alongside businessperson Pika Manondo and former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara were found with a case to answer in the shooting of Mphwiyo.
On the other hand, Kumwembe and Manondo are also charged with conspiracy to murder Mphwiyo following the former budget chief’s shooting outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe on September 13 2013.
In her application, Kachale said Kumwembe asked the judge to recuse himself from the case allegedly because he (Kumwembe) believed Mtambo had already pronounced a guilty sentence.
Said the DPP: “In his application to have judge Mtambo recuse himself, Kumwembe said the judge had already pronounced the guilty sentence on them, otherwise why did he [the judge] travel with a police officer with a gun on his way [back] to Blantyre?
“Now, as State, we are wondering how he [Kumwembe] knew that judge Mtambo came to the courts without a policeman and left with one? He even named the policeman who escorted the judge. How did he get hold of such details? From his statement, we know that he has been following the judge; hence, the application.”
Kachale also told the court that on the said date, it was State authorities who requested the judge to return to Lilongwe to be accompanied by an armed police officer. She said the judge resisted the arrangement, but nevertheless returned.
In a related development, Kumwembe has named his list of witnesses to take stand.
They include former president Joyce Banda, politicians Hophmally Makande and Friday Jumbe, Chifundo Chikaphupha, Eric Mambucha, Robert Kasamu, Christopher Meckleni and a man only identified as Felix.
Kumwembe has also asked the courts to subpoena the former president who has been mentioned three times now to be a witness in the Mphwiyo shooting murder.
In an interview, Kumwembe said he mentioned Banda because during a rally after Mphwiyo’s shooting, she said she knew the people behind the incident.
The judge is expected to make his ruling on whether he will recuse himself this Friday. On the same day, the court is also expected to deliver its verdict on the DPP’s application for bail revocation.
This is the second time Mtambo had been asked to recuse himself on the grounds that he will not offer a fair trial, but he has since refused. n