Mutharika, Vuwa object to hiring of Mhone, Assani as prosecutors: Malawi treason case


Lawyer Kalekeni Kamphale on Tuesday told the Lilongwe Magistrate court that his two clients  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) interim president Peter Mutharika, former Cabinet minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda are objecting he hiring of private lawyers Ishmael Wadi, Fahadi Assani, Gift Nankhuni and Ralph Mhone  to prosecute in the treason and perjury case without following procedures.

“Mhone is not in good terms with Kaunda after the two contested against each other in the 2004 and 2009 general elections in which the latter emerged the victor in both occasions,” Kaphale told the court.

Kaphale added that Mhone still hold political ambitions hence he may be prejudice in handling the case while the other lawyers were illegally hired.

“At the time of his appointment, Assani did not have a practicing license and the appointment was … violating of the Public Procurement Act,” added Kaphale.

Speaking to reports after Resident Magistrate Ruth Chinangwa adjourned the case to Monday April 29, 2013, following a consensus of the two sides, Kaphale said: “The accused persons are entitled to a fair trial and that will mean every time they have to respond or make an address, have given a well thought out address and the adjournment allows opportunity for such approach to the case.”

Meanwhile, Assani a former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) now private practice lawyer has renewed his license.

The former state top prosecutor came in the limelight last month after it was revealed that he was amongst 177 lawyers who were practicing illegally in the country.

Assani, who earlier indicated he had no license because he was out of action for about two years, said he got his renewed license Monday this week at the High Court.

“I have renewed my license and this means I can now join my friends in the prosecution team on the treason case,” Assani said.

After the state hired Assani last month, the Malawi Law Society (MLS) came out in the open arguing the lawyer could not be heard by a court of law as he was unlicensed and such lawyers pose a great danger to the public.

The development also forced some sectors of the society to question government’s decision to appoint a lawyer whose license had expired to prosecute the treason suspects.

As at 20th March, 2013, MLS Executive Director, Paula Caetano, said Assani was one of the 177 illegal lawyers in Malawi out of the 350 who are registered.

But the Minister of Justice Ralph Kasambara argued then that the development had no negative implications in the prosecution of the treason case.

Kasambara said government made a professional decision by hiring Assani because he would still be useful by advising the prosecution team on the matter.

“When you are in court, three lawyers cannot speak at once, so it does not matter that Mr Assani has no licence and will not be standing in court,” Kasambara said last month.

Among those Assani is expected to prosecute include DPP Acting President Peter Mutharika, former ministers Goodall Gondwe, Henry Mussa, Vuwa Kaunda, Jean Kalirani, Patricia Kaliati, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Nicholas Dausi and former Chief Secretary to Office of the President and Cabinet, Bright Msaka and his deputy, Necton Mhura.

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