Malawi's former president is seeking to have the treason
allegation leveled against him by President Bingu Wa Mutharika's administration
thrown out of court. Attorneys for Ex-President Bakili Muluzi contend that the
government has so far failed to start court proceedings to formally charge the
former president three months after he was arrested. Ralph Kasambara is the
lead attorney of former President Muluzi. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from
the commercial capital, Blantyre that President Mutharika's administration is
not serious about the allegations against Muluzi.
we are seeking from the court is that the present allegations and all charges
against the former head of state Dr. Muluzi dropped. The basis for that motion
is that since he was arrested by the police over three months ago now, the
police have not preferred any treason charges against him…or indeed process the
issue of bail. But they didn't do that and they kept on saying that they
(police) were still investigating and afterwards they will determine whether to
prefer charges of treason against him or not," Kasambara pointed out.
He said the court has made its ruling very
clear on the specificity within which the government was supposed to formally
charge the former president.
the court had made an order that after three months if there was no movement of
the case, we were free to approach the court to vary the bail condition. So, we
think this is not the case of carrying the bail condition because when you talk
of bail where somebody is accused of having committed an offense, you have got
a case where Dr. Muluzi is not even accused of committing an offense," he said.
Kasambara said the former president's case to
have the treason allegations dropped would be upheld by the court.
"Definitely the court will agree with us and I'm sure go
ahead to make some scathing remarks against the prosecution because that is not
how you do it. You can't arrest somebody, you don't prefer charges against him,
and you don't take him before court for any charges and just stay three months
doing nothing. And that is not prosecution, it is persecution," Kasambara
He describes President Mutharika's government as unprepared
to press treason charges against the former president.
understand here that the charges we are dealing with are not served from a
shop, whatever charges of trying to usurp state powers and trying to take over
government. And when they were asked in court if they had evidence, they
brought in some anonymous letters, and the court quashed them there and then in
Lilongwe. And now that was very telling to the prosecution that guys you are
not up to it, if you are going to ride on this kind of evidence then forget it.
Don't even dream of it. Now those were the charges leveled against the
Brigadier generals, two weeks when they were arresting Muluzi surely they
couldn't base it on the very same evidence that has already been quashed by the
court," he said.
described the government's move to charge the former president of treason as a
fraught attempt to silence Mr. Muluzi.
this is a desperate attempt by the current administration to cling to something
that they understand does not make sense. And that amounts to political
persecution rather than prosecution," Kasambara pointed out.
said the former president would soon file a civil suit to serve as a deterrent
for public officials to desist from abusing their offices.
we have the court agree with us and the allegations thrown out, then we would
go forward and file a civil action against the administration and against the
government and the individuals that were involved. We think it is high time
that individual public officers are there to enforce the law and not to abuse
the law. I mean this is not the first time that the former president has been
harassed by the state machinery. Just about last week he was denied his
constitutional rights of conducting public rallies," he said.
alleged to have conspired with military officers and some executive members of
the opposition United Democratic Front to overthrow President Bingu Wa
Mutharika's administration. He was arrested in May on allegations of plotting
to overthrow President Mutharika's administration shortly after returning to
the country from a trip to the United Kingdom. But former President Muluzi has
denied the allegations.