BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)–The High Court of Malawi in Blantyre on Thursday referred the former president Bakili Muluzi’s K1.7 billion corruption case to the Constitutional Court for a review.
Since 2011 when the High Court started hearing the case, Muluzi’s lawyers have been fighting for a constitutional review, arguing that the case is a product of political witch-hunting.
In an interview that appears in our sister paper The Daily Times, Judiciary Spokesperson Mlenga Mvula, said the defence and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) lawyers met the presiding High Court Judge, Maclean Kamwambe in his chambers where the decision to refer it to a panel of three judges for constitutionality test, was approved.
“The application was done in 2011 and the then Chief Justice, certified that the case could be referred to the Constitutional Court and what Judge Kamwambe has done today [Thursday] is just to read out what the then Chief Justice had said. So, the case has gone for a review,” Mvula said.
Muluzi was arrested in 2005 on charges of corruption, but the trial had been previously delayed because of his ill-health.
He denied the charges and has always said they were linked to his disagreements with the late Bingu wa Mutharika, who succeeded him to the presidency in 2004.
Mutharika, who became president with the assistance of Muluzi and his United Democratic Front, fell out with Muluzi after he came to power, and accused Muluzi of trying to sabotage his anti-corruption drive.
According to the paper, in January last year, defence lawyers withdrew their application for the Chief Justice to certify that the case goes for constitutional review where the constitutional court should determine that the charges were politically motivated and, therefore, be dismissed.
The decision paved the way for the hearing in the High Court but the case started crumbling along the way as the ACB representation became chaotic up to the extent of forcing the bureau’s Deputy Director, Reyneck Matemba, to recuse himself on what he described as personal reasons.
But in September 2016, the defence revived their interest in the now granted constitutional review.
Muluzi first appeared in court in February 2009 accused of misappropriating $11 million donor money and was initially charged with 80 counts of allegedly siphoning money into his private account.