The Principal Magistrate`s Court in Lilongwe on Friday adjourned until January 11, 2021 for the continuation of trial of former Deputy Chief Executive Officer for National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) Gerald Viola and owner of Missies Trading Company, Chrispine Chingola.
Upon adjourning the case on Friday, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) applied for amendment of the charges of Chingola on influencing a public officer to misuse public office and forgery.
The two accused have since pleaded not guilty to all the charges levelled against them.
In an interview, Principal Legal and Prosecutions Officer at the ACB Bernard Phiri, who applied for adjournment of the matter, said they applied for amendment of charges on the basis that two accused committed the crime jointly.
“The facts of the case are disclosing that the case was committed jointly that’s by Mr. Gerald Viola and Mr. Chrispine Chingola so the last time we appeared before the Court it was only Mr. Viola who took plea, so the arrest of Mr. Chingola necessitated the amendment,” said Phiri.
Meanwhile, Lawyer representing Viola, Geoffrey Taumbe said his defence team is ready with the commencement of the case despite amendment of the charges.
“Considering the circumstances in which the matter has been adjourned we are okay with the adjournment but we must put it on record that we were ready for the hearing today so even though the matter has been adjourned for good reasons we are okay and we will be ready on January 11, 2021,” said Tambe.
“We don’t have any problem with the amendment, we are okay with it considering that they have added another accused person it makes sense that they should add that account so we are okay we are going to get prepared for that as well.”
Viola is being accused of misuse of public office contrary to section 258 (1) of the Corrupt Practices Act, interfering with the work of the Internal Procurement and Disposal of Assets Committee contrary to section 57 (1) (c) as read with section 63 (1) of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act (2017).
While jointly with Chingola, they are being accused of forgery contrary to section 356 of the Penal Code, conspiracy to misuse a public office contrary to section 258 (1) as read with section 35 of the Corrupt Practices Act, including influencing a public officer to misuse a public office contrary to section 258 (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act which is being answered by Chingola alone.
It is believed that Viola conspired with Chingola to supply 10,000 tonnes of maize valued at K3.3 million to NFRA for the business interest of Chingola of the said Missies Trading Company.