An attorney for Malawi’s former President Bakili Muluzi has told VOA defense lawyers will go to court Monday to agree on a date to enter a plea to the former leader’s corruption charges.
Attorney Jai Banda said former President Muluzi is not medically fit to stand trial.
“The case was actually set down last week Friday but, then, Friday was a holiday here in Malawi, so we couldn’t (go) to court and that is why we are going today. When we go today, it’s basically to go and agree on a date of entering (a) plea,” he said.
Malawi's former President Bakili Muluzi says he is innocent of the graft charges against him saying they are politically motivated
Mr. Muluzi was initially charged with 86 counts of corruption following his arrest in 2009 after he was accused of stealing $12 million worth of aid funds. But, the charges were later reduced to 12m counts.
The former Malawian leader has denied the charges describing them as a political witch-hunt after his acrimonious fallout with current President Bingu Wa Mutharika.
He was quoted by a local newspaper as saying, “I have been strongly advised to avoid strenuous activity and extensive and prolonged sitting and that I should return to hospital in two months time. What the ACB (Anti-Corruption Bureau) is doing to me is not prosecution, but persecution and torture. I am tired of this political persecution by the ACB.”
Critics say the former leader, who has a history of back problems, is feigning illness to avoid prosecution after allegedly stealing donor funds meant for Malawi’s poor.
Attorney Banda rejected the accusation saying Mr. Muluzi is not feigning illness to avoid the charges adding that the defense team has evidence to prove its case in court that the former leader is innocent of all the charges against him.
“The evidence we have got is that the former president is not fit to stand trial, and we are going to bring all those things to the attention of the court. We are already prepared for that and, when the time comes, we are going to make sure that we bring them to the attention of the court and nab the way forward,” Banda said.