The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) returns to court with the K1.7 billion Bakili Muluzi case next month. This will mark nine years of running of the case that has stagnated through numerous adjournments attributed to the former president’s illness and objections from the defence.
The development also kills speculation that the State considered dropping the case altogether after it returned last year several vehicles of Muluzi, which it had impounded in 2009 on suspicion that they were bought using corruption earnings.
In an e-mail response to Nation on Sunday, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala said the bureau was not dropping the case, but was preparing for an appearance at the Constitutional Court in February.
“The bureau knows that the case of the former head of State Dr. Bakili Muluzi is coming again in February, 2016, when the High Court will hear from Dr. Muluzi’s lawyers and the State (ACB) on the application which Dr. Muluzi’s lawyers made before Justice Kamwambe (High Court) that the matter be referred to the Chief Justice for the Chief Justice to certify it as a constitutional matter and then refer it to the Constitutional Court for determination.
“Both parties were given 21 days to prepare and file their submissions, beginning with Dr. Muluzi’s lawyers as the applicants and then serve those submissions on the State and the court. The bureau is still waiting for those submissions to be served on it by Dr. Muluzi’s lawyers,” said Ndala.
According to a highly placed source, officials at the Ministry of Justice, the ACB and DPP came under pressure from government to review the Muluzi case with a view of dropping the matter.
“There have been meetings where the matter has been discussed. Constitutionally, the DPP is the one who has to make the decision, but the matter has been prosecuted by ACB so the DPP will wait for ACB to make a recommendation,” said the source.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mary Kachale through Ministry of Justice spokesperson Apoche Itimu refused to speak on the reports that her office was being consulted on the possibility of dropping the case.
“This case is with ACB and has been prosecuted by ACB from the word go, please refer your enquiries to them,” said Itimu.
Last year, the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee summoned ACB over the stalling of the case in which the former president’s initial court appearance dates back to February 2009.
Muluzi who ruled Malawi from 1994 to 2004 as first democratically elected president, is accused of stealing $11 million donor money and was initially charged on 80 counts of allegedly siphoning aid cash into his private account. n