Police accused of starving suspects

Private practice lawyers representing suspects arrested in the Msundwe saga have unveiled plans to seek compensation from government after police allegedly kept their clients for three days in custody without food.

In an interview on Monday, lawyer Sylvester Ayuba James said he found the police’s treatment of his clients as strange and inhuman.

He said: “This is not only bad treatment, but it is inhumane and a violation of human rights.

“Currently, I am working on building up a case on this. We need to seek compensation. People were denied food for three good days as a way of punishing them.”

James: It is a violation of rights

James said he has since reported the matter to Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) and State-funded Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) apart from building up the case against the State.

Yesterday, a senior officer based at National Police Headquarters in Lilongwe corroborated that the suspects were denied food.

The officer said: “It is correct that the people were really starved as a matter of punishment.”

However, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera asked for more time to consult before responding to the lawyer’s claim.

On his part, HRDC national chairperson Timothy Mtambo said his organisation was yet to receive the complaint from the lawyer while efforts to reach MHRC failed as its executive secretary David Nungu’s phone went unanswered.

Msundwe, a trading centre on the outskirts of Lilongwe City along the Lilongwe-Mchinji Road, became a centre of focus last week Tuesday after community members stoned to death Police Mobile Service (PMS) Superintendent UsumaniImedi in the thick of a fracas.

Police arrested 43 suspects in connection with the fracas and the killing of Imedi.

On Monday this week, three separate magistrates in Lilongwe heard the suspects’ applications for bail. The courts granted bail to 27 suspects, but only seven walked to freedom with the 20 set to be freed today.

The court also reserved its ruling on the other 12 who will know their fate the same Wednesday.

There are four suspects remanded at Maula and are expected to appear before court to answer charges of murder.

On the fateful day, some community members at Msundwe were reportedly protesting against the holding of a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally addressed by President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe City.

Witnesses told The Nation last week that the protesters overpowered and chased the police officers who were clearing rocks and logs used to block the road and that Imedi was the last man standing in the commotion when he met his fate.

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