Malawi: Court gives ACB leeway to quiz Muluzi

 Muluzi: Should be answerable
The Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre lifted the injunction former president Bakili Muluzi obtained restraining the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) from questioning him.

A panel of three judges led by Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo in the Supreme Court ruled that the injunction Muluzi obtained after the bureau summoned him on the K1.4 billion ($12 million) case be vacated giving ACB powers to interrogate the former president on his properties.

The court ruling said under Corrupt Practises Act, Muluzi like any other citizen should explain his properties.

"The Anti Corruption Bureau has powers to question the ex-president over the allegations. Muluzi is answerable to whatever he did as his was a public office," the Chief Justice said.
Muluzi in October 2005 obtained an injunction from the High Court stopping the ACB from questioning him on K1.4 billion ($12 million) in his personal account which he had raised during the 2004 campaign from foreign donors.

ACB director Alex Nampota said he was relieved that the court vacated the injunction and that they will proceed with their case.

We are happy with the ruling. We now can question the former president, said Nampota.

Muluzi's lawyer Jai Banda, who was at the court  said the welcomed the ruling but said it will not change anything saying ACB already arrested the former Malawi ruler in 2006, charged him and took a caution statement.

We will wait to see what action ACB will take but our client is very innocent, said lawyer Banda.We will definitely prove in court his innocence, he confidently said.

The anti-graft body briefly arrested Muluzi in 2006 on 42 counts of corruption, but all the charges, except for the K1.4 billion donor money, were dropped for lack of evidence. 

The then ACB director Gustav Kaliwo summoned the former president to the Bureau’s offices in Blantyre where he was slapped with a charge relating to this issue.  

Soon after that, Mutharika suspended Kaliwo who later resigned. A few days later, the then Director of Public Prosecutions, Ishmael Wadi, issued a discontinuance certificate. Wadi was thereafter forced to resign.

Muluzi who is presidential candidate for 2009 polls representing opposition United Democratic Front party and alliance partners denied any wrongdoing.

Lawyers for Muluzi said they are aware government intends to distract Muluzi with malicious prosecution cases such as the corruption allegations ahead of the May, 2009 general elections as he is the main contender for President Mutharika.

However, lawyers argue Muluzi would still contest the polls as a suspect answering various charges.Government claims that the former Malawi ruler diverted donor money from Taiwan and Libya into his personal, private bank account in Zomba.

However, the Taiwanese and Libyans who had embassies in Malawi when Muluzi was president were all booted out of the country by Mutharika.

Both the Taiwanese and Libyans were asked by the Mutharika government to testify against Muluzi by, among other things, signing sworn affidavits implicating the former president. 

When both the Taiwanese and Libyans refused to do so, Mutharika ordered their expulsion from Malawi. – Nyasa Times

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