High Court Varies Chilima’s Bail Conditions. Today’s 5 Key Points

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BAIL CONDITIONS VARIED: Justice Redson Kapindu has today, Tuesday August 1, 2023 varied bail conditions that the lower court had imposed on Vice President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima when he was arrested in November 2022 over corruption allegations. The Judge has set aside the need to have Chilima’s passport to be kept by the state but instead hand it over to President Lazarus Chakwera for the same reason that the Vice President can not travel without seeking leave of the President.

The court has also set aside the condition to have the Vice President physically report to ACB offices once in every three months, ruling that that requirement does not serve any purpose. Instead, the Office of the Vice President should be informing the ACB about the Veep’s whereabout every two weeks.

During the ruling, Justice Kapindu described as strange the reasoning by ACB prosecutors that the Vice President can still evade trial even although he is guarded by the Malawi Police Service because, according to ACB, the police can not be trusted. The Judge said he refused to join the ACB “on their journey of mistrust of the Malawi Police Service.”

2: NEW CHARGE SHEET: The ACB has dropped initial charges that they levelled on Vice President Chilima and there is now a new charge sheet, prompting the defence to argue that the ammended charge sheet is not supported by law. One of the defence lawyers Khumbo Soko wondered why the sudden change to the charge sheet, nine months after the arrest. “When arresting someone you must show that you are ready,” he said. The court will still make a ruling after submissions from both parties on Plea taking versus new charge sheet.

  1. ACB OBJECTS DISCLOSURERS: The state has objected to the request by the defence to furnish them with additional disclosures which earlier lead lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale had described as “extensive and pervasive.” The Prosecutors told the court that they will comply with other documents but will not disclose some information because it is previlege information. The ACB has since been requested to provide the defence with the required available information/objections within 7 days. This was after the defence complained that they recieved the new charge sheet just two days before court session.
  2. ONE PROSECUTOR COMPROMISED: The defence have filed to the court objecting the continued presence of one prosecutor, arguing that he is “not suitable” to continue prosecuting the case due to conflict of interest. The court will handle this matter in the next court session.
  3. ADJOURNED TO FRIDAY 25 AUGUST 2023: The court has since adjourned proceedings to August 25 where the presiding Judge – Justice Redson Kapindu – will make a number of determinations that will spell the way forward of the case. The Judge will determine on the request that the ACB should furnish more disclosures to the defence. The Prosecution has since argued in court that the demanded information is previleged information and can not be disclosed. The Judge will also determine on the request of the suitability of one prosecutor to prosecute the case. The Judge also indicated that there is another application from the defence questioning the competence of the ACB to prosecute the matter. On the said date, the court will also handle the request by Zodiak Broadcasting Station to cover the case live.
    Constitutional Question
    The Judge observed that if the President was incapacitated – the Vice President by the operation of the law – would become acting President and therefore the set bail conditions would serve no purpose because one would expect the acting President to focus on state affairs without disruptions.

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