- Trial to go ahead May 4
Two independent medical assessments of businessperson and Cashgate suspect Oswald Lutepo have found that he is exaggerating his illness to avoid prosecution.
College of Medicine (CoM) psychiatrist Felix Kauye and Jennifer Ahrens of Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH)—both in Blantyre—have told the High Court in Zomba that there is no medical condition to prevent Lutepo from standing trial.
The medical assessments mean that the trial of Lutepo will go ahead on May 4 2015 when Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale is expected to make an application to the court.
Lutepo, who came in the limelight when he donated 22 vehicles to the former governing People’s Party (PP) of immediate past president Joyce Banda over a year ago, is charged with theft and money laundering K3.1 billion from government between April and September 2013.
The doctors’ findings followed an order which the High Court in Zomba made that two doctors should examine Lutepo over a period of 30 days to determine if he is mentally fit to stand trial.
In his report, Kauye described Lutepo’s condition as “malingering”, which is defined as “purposeful production of falsely or grossly exaggerated complaints with the goal of receiving a reward or the avoidance of punishment and work among others”.
According to private practice lawyer Oswald Mtupila representing Lutepo, Kauye told the court that in his interpretation, Lutepo was “feigning an illness to achieve secondary gain”.
On her part, Ahrens also found that Lutepo did not have a mental disorder to render him unfit to stand trial.
In a written response to an inquiry from The Nation, Kachale said: “Justice [Redson] Kapindu has ruled that Lutepo is fit to stand trial after considering the reports from the two highly qualified psychiatrists, Dr. Ahrens and Dr. Kauye.”
Earlier examinations by three doctors, one from Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) Medi Clinic in Mzuzu and two from Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe said Lutepo had anxiety disorder with panic attacks and referred him for further psychiatric evaluation.
In their psychiatric assessments, the doctors considered Lutepo’s mental capacity to stand trial, his ability to understand charges levelled against him and his capacity to understand the seriousness of penalties if proven guilty.
The doctors also considered Lutepo’s ability to help his lawyer to defend him as well as his capacity to give evidence if he decided to do so when trial resumes.
Lutepo is facing multiple criminal charges, among them theft and money laundering K3.1 billion at the High Court in Zomba, theft and money laundering K5.7 billion alongside former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ralph Kasambara and others at the High Court in Zomba, perjury charges at the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court, conspiracy to commit murder before the High Court in Lilongwe and tax evasion.