Malawi court says Muluzi should not sign oppressive bond

High Court Judge, Justice Edward Twea has quashed the prayer by Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) for former president Dr Bakili Muluzi to sign US$ 12 million bond before he is allowed to travel for a medical checkup in the United Kingdom.

Muluzi Malawis Head of State from 1994 to 2004 is asked to explain the K1.4 billion ($12 million) which was deposited in his account from Libya and Taiwan when he was President.

Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) sought the court order to impose a bond which Muluzi should accent, of non-cash amounting to $12 million to ensure he returns from UK.

But delivering his determination in his chambers, Justice Twea said Muluzi has been travelling to UK several times without such a bond and agreed with the Muluzi lawyers that the order was oppressive.

However, the Judge bonded Muluzi with K50 million non cash and two sureties with K10 million non cash.

I find no objective reason that the accused person will abscond. I therefore order that he must execute a bail bond of the sum of 50 million kwacha, not cash, Judge Edward Twea said in his ruling.

Lawyer for Muluzi, Jai Banda said he was delighted with the ruling and hoped the former president reportedly to be unwell will now go to seek medical attention in the UK.

But Justice Twea said the bail conditions where Muluzi is supposed to surrender his travel documents to ACB still stands and that he need to seek authorisation before leaving the country.

The accused person must not leave the jurisdiction of Malawi without the order of this court, Justice Twea ordered.

The former Malawi president was expected to have a health check last week in UK on his slip disc problem which he was operated on in 2006 but was stopped after the Bureau seized his passport.

ACB acted after Chief Immigration Officer Elvis Thodi claimed in a sworn affidavit that Muluzi planned to bolt from the prosecution of the graft charges.

But Justice Twea refused to attach any weight of credibility to anonymous source.

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 Bureaus 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.

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.

The lawyers for Muluzi have said the former president does not deny being a rich man, but that he was already a very successful businessman before becoming president.

The government has never been able to show how Muluzis substantial personal estate was a result of self-enrichment through corrupt methods.

Muluzi who is yet to make a plea, denies any wrong doing.

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