Malawi Law Society ponders on  Kasambara:  Judge Mtambo ‘maliciously witholding’ judgement?

By | August 1, 2016

Malawi Law Society (MLS) is waiting to get hold of the  judgement  by High Court judge Micheal Mtmabo which he delivered last month convicting  former justice minister Ralph Kasambara, before  making a decision to struck off Kasambara from the list of accredited lawyers to practice.

 Kasambara hinted at the possibility of appealing against the verdict,

Kasambara hinted at the possibility of appealing against the verdict

Judge Mtambo convicted Kasambara alongside his two co-accused—Pika Manondo and Macdonald Kumwembe—on the charge of conspiracy to murder former Ministry of Finance budget director Paul Mphwiyo.

Mtambo also found Manondo, a businessperson and Kumwembe, a former Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier, guilty of attempted murder in relation to Mphwiyo’s shooting on September 13 2013 outside the gate of his Area 43 residence in Lilongwe.

But the law society president  John Suzi Banda said the body wants to peruse through the written judgement before it makes its decision.

The judgement which is supposed to be a public docement is not yet in the public domain.

In other high profile cases, High Court such as the convicton of cashgate kingpin Oswald Lutepo, the  judge gave reporters the same day he delivered it as well as soft copy was circulated the same day.

But in the Mphwiyo shooting case, that was televised, the Judge  says is writing  the judgement.

“One wonders what the judge was reading then. If it was in long hand (which is very doubtful as the judge had highlighted printers papers) surely can it take more than a day to type and edit a judgement that was read for less than an hour and half,” said one lawyer familiar with circulation of judgement.

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He said the convicts need to access the Mtambo judgement so that they can commence appeal process and prepare skeletal arguments that goes with notice of appeal.

“The right to speedy trial includes a right to receivie written judgement timely,” he said.

Judiciary sources says Judge Mtambo is now struggling to write  a sound judgement that will stand the test of proving a case beyond reasonable doubt.

Others suggest Judge Mtambo is “maliciously withholding” the judgement so as to punish the convicts by delaying their commening appeal process.

But law society president said they don’t want “piecemeal reactions” until they see the judgement.

Judge Mtambo set August 22 as the date for hearing of submissions of mitigation factors before it can pass jail sentences.

But legal critics queried Mtmbao: “ When are you receiving evidence for sentencing purposes as required by section 321J of Criminal Procedure and Evidence code, Cap. 8:01.”

Kasambara claimed after being convicted that the trial was “staged” and that Judge Mtambo was “comprimosed”.

Under the Penal Code, the offence of attempted murder carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment whereas conspiracy to commit murder attracts a maximum jail term of 14 years.