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In Malawi, Vice President Chilumpha's Defense Team Hard at Work


In Malawi, defense attorneys for Vice President Cassim Chilumpha say they will be asking Malawi’s Constitutional Court to drop the case against the vice president. They say the government has failed to produce evidence against him in the four months since his arrest. Fahad Assani, the lead attorney for the vice president, says the state has failed to disclose evidence and identify the assassins Chilumpha allegedly hired to kill President Mutharika. He adds that the defense team will ask the court to consider the lack of evidence and the immunity issues as grounds for charge dismissal. Assani says allowing the government to arrest people without evidence is a violation of rights. He spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey.

“Indeed we have a petition before the Constitutional Court, which is meant to [clarify] the system [used] by the state to arrest and prosecute the sitting vice president. The vice president did get an order from the High Court for an injunction and a stay order that proceedings would have to stay pending termination of this constitutional precedent. What we are actually looking at is the vice president, under the Chapter 4 rights in our Constitution, has had his rights violated left, right, and center by the state. So we are [questioning] on his behalf the constitutionality of his arrest because, firstly, the state, up to this point, has never advised him or informed him of the details of the charge.”

Assani says he would like to move quickly on this issue, resolving it before the week is out.

“This application will actually be before the Constitutional Court on Tuesday because the Constitutional Court is sitting on our application that the arrest of the vice president is unconstitutional, illegal, and unlawful…. We have moved the Constitutional Court to make a decision on this very [issue].”

He says the charge of treason is too serious to be held for four months without sufficient evidence.

“Exactly. The treason is a very, very serious charge…. But the mere assessment that there was a treason of conspiracy without evidence is not acceptable in our Constitution. Now if the state, indeed, had any evidence of a conspiracy to…topple the…government of Malawi, they should’ve given the particulars or the details of that charge…. It’s now about four months…and no evidence is coming. Should we just accept the mere assertion? At the same time, when the High Court was granting bail to the vice president, but of course on very stringent terms…it said…[there] was a lack of evidence before the court, now that [made] the High Court judge release him on bail.”

He says he hopes all charges against Chilumpha will be dismissed.

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