Written by YAMIKANI SIMUTOWE
BLANTYRE (MaraPost) — Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Ruth Chinangwa is expected to make a ruling Wednesday, May 15, 2013 in the perjury case involving former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Peter Mutharika and three others.
The judge will decide whether the case can be heard before her or be referred back to Judge Ivy Kamanga of the High Court.
The other three accused persons are former ministers Goodall Gondwe, and Jean Kalirani and former Chief Secretary to government Bright Msaka.
They appeared in court (twice) to take plea on this charge but they failed after defence lawyers protested and asked Magistrate Chinangwa to stop the proceedings.
Their lawyers questioned the motive behind the State’s insistence to prosecute a perjury case against the four at the magistrate’s court while they also answer other charges including treason in the High Court.
In their previous submissions, one of the defence lawyers, Kalekeni Kaphale, asked the magistrate to send the matter back to the High Court.
Kaphale told the court that the effect of splitting the charges against the accused persons with one being in the magistrates’ court and another in the High Court was that it would prejudice the right of the four to prepare and focus.
The defence council also argued that the move by the State to bring perjury case before a magistrate wasn't only in breach of the suspect’s right to fair trial but also against the supreme law of the land.
However, lawyers for government insisted that the accused can lawfully be charged with perjury before a magistrate without affecting the process itself.
They pointed out that the discontinuance of the matter in the High Court was done in compliance with the law that requires that it be reported to Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee.
To this effect, Chief Resident Magistrate Chinangwa adjourned the matter to this Wednesday for ruling whether the matter can be heard before her or be sent back to the Lilongwe High Court.
The four accused are alleged to have lied under oath and attempted to block Pres. Joyce Banda from ascending to the office of the president after the death of Pres. Bingu wa Mutharika in April last year.
(c) The Maravi Post 2013