The fugitive murder suspect, Misozi Chanthunya, has withdrawn his extradition challenge, bringing to an end one of the country’s long drawn legal battles.
Chanthunya is suspected to have killed his ex-girlfriend Linda Gasa in September 2010. Gasa’s body was found buried in Chanthunya’s lakeshore private cottage in Monkey-Bay, Mangochi.
The fugitive murder suspect later fled to South Africa and has since been fighting not to be extradited to Malawi to answer murder charges.
However, in a dramatic turn of events, Chanthunya informed the state over the weekend of his intentions to surrender to Malawian authorities to face murder charges in connection to the gruesome killing of 25-year-old, according to sources close to the matter.
In a court appearance on Monday, Chanthunya lived up to his word; withdrawing all applications against the extradition process which the South African Minister of Justice had ordered in 2012 after Chanthunya was declared a fugitive from justice by Malawian court.
“He has agreed that he will be coming home to face the charges,” a source close to the matter told Nation Online.
But as of Monday morning, the Ministry of Justice spokesperson Pirirani Masanjala could not confirm whether such talks had taken place and what had persuaded Chanthunya to take such a decision.
But, by late afternoon on Monday Chanthunya had told the court he was ready to face justice at home.
“You will recall that there was a matter in court today. Two things happened in court today (Monday). First, Mr. Chanthunya finally withdrew all the applications he had made in court, more importantly the application he made seeking to challenge the decision of the (South African) Minister to extradite him to Malawi. Secondly, the High Court in South Africa has found him to be extractable, so he can be extradited to Malawi,” Masanjala said.
Masanjala further said that arrangements are now underway to negotiate Chanthunya’s safe passage to Malawi which is likely to also involve Interpol, because Chanthunya remains a fugitive from justice.
“He has been 0n the run for seven years so he is still a fugitive from the law,” said Masanjala.
Chanthunya’s lawyers were not immediately available for comment but Masanjala said the state is ready to start the case in court once Chanthunya is home, downplaying questions over strengths of evidence and availability of witnesses, years after the horrendous crime.
Chanthunya’s escape from justice was a novel affair. He was questioned by police in Blantyre in the immediate aftermath of the murder of Gasa, then reportedly pregnant.
Following his questioning, he walked out of a police station without charges which were only laid while he had already skipped the country’s border security and has been fighting extradition since his arrest in South Africa in 2010.
Chanthunya recently launched a bid to get bail through the Malawi High Court but a judge in that case, Justice Esmie Chombo, later recused herself from the case citing “phone calls” she had received connected to the case.
The judge did not indicate whether the calls were threats or an attempt to influence her handling of the case.