Former president Peter Mutharika’s bodyguard Norman Chisale has applied in the High Court in Lilongwe to stay criminal proceedings against him in the Cementgate case.
Chisale is accused of abusing the tax identification number (TPIN) for Mutharika and the Constitutional Court is yet to make a determination on whether a civil and criminal case on the same matter should run concurrently or not.
The civil case in reference is about forfeiture of his property.
Chisale earlier applied before the High Court to have the civil case stayed but the court threw out the application. The matter went to the Supreme Court where he wanted to have the civil case stayed while Constitutional Court decides on the case.
The Supreme Court did not stay the case but referred the matter to the Constitutional Court.
Chisale’s lawyer Fostino Maele yesterday applied to have the criminal proceedings stayed until the Constitutional Court determines on the matter.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Maele said having the two cases run concurrently will affect the right of the accused to remain silent.
He said if his client decides to remain silent in the criminal case, he would be compelled to speak in the civil matter.
Said Maele: “We want the proceedings to be stayed until the Constitutional Court makes a ruling on the matter.
“We feel having the two cases running concurrently will infringe on our client’s right to remain silent.”
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Masauko Chamkakala, who objected to the application yesterday, said there is no prejudice that would happen having the criminal case proceed.
He said the criminal case has taken long to begin and there is need to go ahead with it.
Said Chamkalala: “We can have the criminal case running. It has taken too long.”
The High Court is expected to make a ruling on the application on Friday.
In the criminal case, businessperson Mahmed Chunara, Chisale, former State residences chief of staff Peter Mukhito, former Malawi Revenue Authority deputy commissioner general Roza Mbilizi and businessperson Ahmed Chunara are accused of abusing the former president’s TPIN to import cement worth K5 billion duty free.
The suspects are facing charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit customs offences, smuggling, aiding and abetting smuggling, uttering false documents, fraudulent evasion of value added tax, abuse of office, making false documents, omitting from a return of income in respect to year of assessment and money laundering.