A Malawi high court has softened bail conditions for embattled Vice President Cassim Chilumpha. The new conditions allow the vice president to report to the commissioner of police once a week, and not twice, as was previously the case. Attorneys for the vice president had argued that since Chilumpha is under constant surveillance, it is unnecessary for him to report to the police each time he travels inside Malawi. Chilumpha is facing trial for allegedly plotting to assassinate President Bingu Wa Mutharika.
From the capital Lilongwe, the vice president’s lead attorney Fahad Assani tells the Voice Of America the defense team asked the high court judge to reduce Chilumpa’s bail conditions.
“Recently we did make an application to the high court and it was heard by the judge who is presiding over the matter of the criminal trial of the vice president in the treason charge, in which we asked the court to vary the bail conditions. And of course what we has asked for was that the vice president had been required to report in court on the day of the sittings instead of going to the police every Monday and Friday,” he noted.
Assani said the judge agreed with their argument and amended the vice president’s bail.
“The court graciously granted only the part whereby they said it is no longer necessary for the vice president to inform the police that he is leaving the official residence of Mudi to any other part of the country. And at the same time instead of reporting twice to the week, he can report once on Mondays at the police station. At the same time, all they said was in case the vice president wants to leave the country, that he needs police permission,” he pointed out.
Assani explains that initially, there were some people who were barred from visiting the vice president at his official residence.
“At the very beginning when the court had imposed conditions, which were really tantamount to house arrest, indeed there were very few people within the categories the court had prescribed who could see him. But after the bail conditions were first varied, he was free to meet anybody at anytime within the precincts of the state residence. The only restrictions at that time were that he could not leave the state residence in Blantyre, to go to any part of the country without police knowledge,” he said.