High Court Agrees MDF Docs Sensitive; Proceed to Public Trial or End Case


The High Court in Lilongwe has today cautioned in advance that in the event that disclosures being sought by the defense in the Vice President Saulos Chilima corruption case will be admissible for public trial, the state will have to make a choice to proceed with prosecution or end the case.

In his ruling today, Justice Kapindu, however, said it is premature for the defence to seek some of the disclosures from the State at this stage when trial hasn’t commenced. The court also ruled that, indeed, some of the documents are highly sensitive in nature to be made public.

The Judge however, made it crystal clear that if during the trial such sensitive documents will prove to be relevant to fair trial for the accused, then the State, through the Anti -Corruption Bureau (ACB), will have to decide whether to have such sensitive information disclosed in open court or discontinue the case.

“The State will have to decide either to proceed or disclose the documents or terminate the case in the interest of national security,” said the Judge.

The Judge said the right to fair trial is paramount and that therefore if during trial, the documents will prove to be relevant it will be upon the state to make them public or discontinue the case.

AG, Lead Lawyers from ACB and Defence to view Documents

To appreciate the court’s observation that the documents being sought are indeed sensitive, the Judge has directed that defense team lead lawyer, the Attorney General (AG ) and ACB lead lawyer will be allowed access on *”only see basis”* of the sensitive documents.

The said viewing will take place in the chamber where the custodians of the documents, the MDF, will show the documents to the team next week.

What are these Sensitive Documents? Among others, they include:

  1. Minutes of the Defence Council

These minutes, held on 16 October 2020, allegedly authorising the procurement of armoured personnel carriers (APCs), therefore disaproving any element of influence by Vice-President Chilima as accused.

2. Memo to President Chakwera

A Memorandum to President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, seeking authorisation to procure APCs from Malachite FZE, a company linked to Sattar, using single sourcing.

3. Memo from President Chakwera to MDF

A memorandum from the President, responding to the request from the MDF Commander.

MDF Questions How Chilima Knew about the Documents

Making his last pronouncements today, Justice Kapindu ruled the MDF out of order for questioning how Vice President Chilima was made aware of the documents yet he is not a member of Defence Council.

The Judge said the accused person being the second most powerful person is privy to such information because of the position he holds.

Defense Requests One More Disclosures

The defence has today further requested one more disclosure from the state, an MOU between UK’s National Crimes Agency NCA and the Anti-Corruption Bureau ACB, which defense lawyers said the document in question was made available to other ongoing Sattar related cases except the Dr. Chilima one.

The court will reconvene on 3rd May 2024 for way forward.


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