A team prosecuting ex-president Bakili Muluzi in the K1.7 billion (about $6.8 million) graft case needs to be reconstituted, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) asked the High Court in Blantyre on Tuesday.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is prosecuting Muluzi and his co-accused Lyness Violet Whisky. They both deny the charges. Muluzi is accused of diverting K1.7 billion into his personal accounts when he was in power.
The ACB is currently represented by director Alex Nampota, private practising lawyer Clement Mwala and Chief State Advocate David Nyamirandu. But Nampota, who was not in court on Tuesday, has not been reporting for work recently as he has issues with his employers who have asked him to resign.
He was also recently arrested on allegations that he pocketed K1.5 million (about $6 000) in allowances for a trip he never undertook.
DPP Bruno Kalemba told presiding Judge McLean Kamwambe: “I wish to formally advise the court that there have been developments at the Anti-Corruption Bureau which [have] directly affected the composition of the team that is prosecuting the matter.
“It was my decision, in terms of Section 99 of the Republic Constitution, that this prosecution team be reconstituted so that the matter can proceed in the best way possible.
“In light of that decision, it is my prayer that this matter be adjourned so that I am able to look at the file and how best we can conduct the prosecution.”
Section 99 of the Constitution says the DPP shall have powers in any criminal case to take over and continue any criminal proceedings which have been instituted or undertaken by any other person or authority.
Nyamirandu told the court that the prosecution team’s hands were tied.
Kamwambe granted the adjournment, saying it was prudent for the court to oblige to an adjournment sought, considering circumstances the prosecution and defence had raised.
Earlier, one of Muluzi’s lawyers, Kalekeni Kaphale, told the court he was not ready for the proposed July dates because he would be away on study leave.
The matter has since been set for 14 days starting on October 8, 2012.
The case has dragged since Muluzi and Whisky were arrested because, among other reasons, the former president was declared unfit for trial on health grounds. The judicial strike early this year also affected the case.
On Tuesday, Muluzi avoided the steps at the High Court premises. Instead, he went through an entrance used by judges.