The corruption trial of former president Bakili Muluzi starts today (8 March) before Blantyre High Court.
|Muluzi: Trial commences|
Justice MacLean Kamwambe ruled on Monday when Muluzi appeared before the court that the prosecution trial should run from today (8 March) dismissing the plea by the former president that he was not fit to stand trial.
Lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale told the court that Muluzi was in “pain” and could “not fit to stand trial” because government was refusing to pay for his pre-arranged specialist doctor recommended medical review in Cape Town, South Africa.
The former president , who has had a series of operations on his back, sat calmly behind the lawyers’ bench and not in the dock.
Muluzi asked the court for a five minutes adjournment to stretch his legs per doctors’ orders. The court granted him the 15-minute adjournment.
However, when the court resumed sitting, Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director Alexious Nampota -prosecuting together with Clement Mwala - asked the judge to dismiss the former president application - not to stand trial – saying the defence lawyers ambushed the prosecution by not serving them their grounds in time.
“That’s an abuse of the court process,” Nampota said and the judge agreed.
Nampota also said there has been no medical report has been submitted in court that.
But the judge also accused the graft-busting body of putting the court and the whole judiciary “in an awkward situation” by not allowing Muluzi to go for his scheduled medical review last December.
“I dismiss the defence’s application and this case is coming up for trial at this court on Tuesday (March 8), at 9 o’clock in the morning,” ruled Kamwambe.
“But if Dr. Muluzi gets very ill during trial I’ll stop the court proceedings,” he added.
The trial will be divided in phases, two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon in view of Muluzi ailing health.
Muluzi was initially charged with 86 counts of corruption following his arrest in 2009 in connection with the alleged theft of 12 million dollars (nine million euros) in aid and state money.
The corruption and theft charges were dropped by the state in 2006.