Malawian police over the weekend interrogated vice president Cassim Chilumpha over treason charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Bingu Wa Mutharika. He was allowed to read statements and listen to audio tapes of his alleged plot with two other accused. But Chilumpha’s lawyers protested for not being allowed to take the evidence outside of the interrogation room.
Viva Nyimba is a lead attorney for Vice President Cassim Chilumpha. He talked about the vice president’s interrogation.
“The vice president appeared before the police in Blantyre. There were three basic issues that were there. In the first place, they showed him the alleged evidence statements by the alleged assassin. Secondly they showed the tapes for which he could listen. Thirdly, they gave him an offense that he was being charged with the offense of treason and conspiracy to murder… the vice president exercised his right to silence and he denied the charges,” he said.
Nyimba said the law permits the accused to be presented with the evidence for which he is being charged. But he claims the law was flouted in the case against the vice president.
“Normally under the law, the suspect is supposed to be given the tape recording, the statements from the witnesses, so that he could be able to study them and challenge them...the state fears their evidence could be challenged that is why they refused to hand over the alleged evidence,” Nyimba noted.
He said the defense lawyers have not been served with the alleged evidence despite a court order on the State to do so within 14 days, which expired on 22 November.
“Basically this was our major complaint when we went to the constitutional court that the police didn’t give the applicant any evidence against him. They never produced any identity of the alleged accused persons… and these violated the rights of the applicant to be informed and the right to administrative action as provided under section 42 and section 43 of the Constitution of Malawi,” Nyimba said.
He said the vice president’s defense team has registered its protest against what he called the bad nature of the alleged tape recording.
“We have already registered our protest. In fact we have already taken the writ of “habeas corpus”. We are asking the court to release our client because there is no evidence against him, and because these guys are refusing to give us the tapes,” he said.
Nyimba said the vice president was illegally arrested without the police presenting any evidence against him.
“There was no evidence that was given to him upon his arrest. Remember he was arrested on 28 April this year until he was given bail on 16 May. All this period he was in jail, he was not given any thing at all, and that is totally illegal, and that is why we went to the constitutional court to complain about the conduct of the police on this matter,” Nyimba said.
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