Chief Resident Magistrate Patrick Chirwa has directed that the extradition application hearing involving Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, be handled as a criminal matter.
The pronouncement follows a notice which lawyers representing the Bushiris applied to the Court seeking its determination as to whether the matter should proceed as a civil case or a criminal matter.
In addition, Magistrate Chirwa has directed the State to facilitate speedy transmission of some of the extradition application documents which the defense team asked last week.
In an interview, Director of Public Prosecutions Dr Steven Kayuni said he is satisfied with the court’s direction on the notice.
“That has a very huge significance because there is a very difference between a criminal process and civil process and with the way our justice system is, a criminal matter processed faster than a civil matter.
“If there are issues to do with criminality, then its criminal matter and if there are issues to do with civility of persons, then it’s a civil matter, the issues before the court there is criminality in them,” argued Dr Kayuni.
However, the defense through one of the lawyers representing the Bushiris; Wapona Kita objected the manner in which the State has chosen to proceed with the matter as criminal in nature.
Kita argued that the basis is not provided for under Section 9 of the country’s Extradition Act.