Full trial of the case in which former Budget Director Paul Mphwiyo and 18 others are suspected of taking part in “cashgate”, the biggest looting scandal in Malawi’s history, will commence on June 15, 2020.
The High Court Lilongwe on Tuesday found Mphwiyo and 18 others with a case to answer, seven years after their alleged involvement in theft of K2.4 billion from public coffers in 2013.
Before giving her ruling, Judge Esmie Chombo quoted section 254 of the criminal procedures which places the burden of proof upon the prosecution team.
She said the prosecution was bound to produce evidence beyond reasonable doubt that indeed the accused have a case to answer failing which the accused had to earn an acquittal.
She further said that it was upon the prosecution to furnish the court with essential evidence of prosecution.
The court then found out that the prosecution team had successfully managed provide evidence enough on all the accused who are answering different charges.
After the rulling was delivered, justice Chombo asked the defence to give the court dates on which the case should proceed.
In their response, the defence asked the court to grant time for a stay of the trial pending an appeal.
The defence also asked that they be allowed to analyse evidence since they did not prepare for the outcome of the ruling. But on the dates to commence defence they said nothing.
The state which is being represented by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mary Kachale and others hailed the ruling saying it is in accordance with practice in the criminal procedures.
On the application for a stay by the defence, she said the court should not grant a stay arguing the stay application is a delay tactic.
The DPP applied for 14 days to commence trial from the day of the ruling.
Delivering ruling on the application by the state and the defence, justice Chombo threw out the application for a stay saying the case can continue even with an appeal.
What is cashgate?
Cash gate scandal involved illegal transfer of funds from the government bank accounts to private companies in disguise for payment of goods and services.
It was uncovered in September, 2013, when a government accounts assistant Victor Sithole was found with huge sums of cash in his car.
A week later, there was an assassination attempt on Malawi’s budget director Paul Mphwiyo.
Former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambala, who was charged with the attempted murder of Mphwiyo, told a court that he wants former Malawi President Joyce Banda, her sister and two other senior officials to be his witnesses when his trial starts.