The High Court of Malawi Financial Crimes Division has ordered the State to serve Defence lawyers with disclosures of and evidence in the case where Vice-President Saulos Chilima is accused of engaging in corrupt practices.
Presiding Judge Redson Kapindu on Monday ordered that the disclosures should be served seven days before Chilima takes plea in court to enable his legal team study them and provide advice to their client.
The court, sitting in Lilongwe, has since set August 1 this year for the Vice-President to take plea.
More in this report done by Madalitso Pendame
CUE IN: CHILIMA MADALITSO
During Monday’s proceedings, Kapindu initially adjourned the case to July 19, but the State objected and pleaded for a minimum of 21 days before they could serve the Defence with the witness disclosures.
But the judge wondered why the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which arrested Chilima in November 2022 on suspicion that he received a bribe from United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar, did not seem ready with the witness disclosures eight months later.
In response, ACB chief legal and prosecution officer Chrispin Khunga argued that the prosecution needed enough time to prepare the documents to serve the defence because for on Monday’s appearance, they had planned for the plea and bail direction hearing.
The judge later granted ACB’s wish and
changed the date for witness disclosures to August 1.
However, Kapindu maintained July 19 for bail direction hearing.
The defence, led by former Attorney General Kalekeni Kaphale, wants to apply for a review of Chilima’s bail conditions to, among others, ensure that he does not have to report to the ACB every three months and also for his passport, which is currently being held by the court, to be handed back.
While requesting the court for the service of disclosures, Kaphale also indicated that the accused would not take plea before what he termed, “pervasive and extensive disclosures” that would enable the defence to prepare their client accordingly.
Besides Kaphale, the defence team also comprises lawyers Khumbo Soko and Bright Theu. Ironically, during the 2019 Presidential Election petition, Kaphale and his new team members were on opposing sides.
The ACB team has Khunga, Anafi Likwanya, Victor Chimwala and Imran Saidi.
In May this year, chief resident magistrate
Madalitso Khoswe Chimwaza committed the case to the Financial Crimes Division for prosecution.
This was after the State submitted a certificate of committal to the court.
Chilima is answering six charges of receiving $280 000 from Sattar as a reward allegedly to assist Sattar’s firm to be awarded a food ration packs contract Reference Number MPS/SB/16/04/2021 worth $7 875 000 for the Malawi Police Service.
He was arrested by the ACB on November 25 2022.