Africa-Press – Malawi. High Court Judge Ruth Chinangwa is expected to release former Vice President Dr Cassim Chilumpha from his 17-year-old treason case.
The case dates back to 2006 when the state alleged Chilumpha, with a businessman turned politician, Yusuf Matumula, wanted to assassinate former President late Bingu wa Mutharika.
Judge Chinangwa hinted in her chambers on Friday that she intends to release Chilumpha from prosecution because the state has failed to prosecute him for 17 years.
However, she told both state and defense lawyers that she would hand down a detailed ruling in two weeks time.
This prompted Chilumpha, who was at the court, to be on the moon.
“I am very happy. This is exciting,” said Chilumpha but refused to say more saying he was yet to discuss the matter with his lawyer.
Media reports in 2013 estimated that the case might have cost the state about K200 million.
Some politicians and analysts laballed the case as highly political as it came at the height of fall out between Mutharika and Chilumpha soon after both ascended to the presidency on UDF ticket after they were handpicked by Bakili Muluzi.
Chilumpha refused to join Mutharika’s newly formed Democractic Progressive Party (DPP) which he formed after leaving the UDF after accusing Muluzi of high profile corruption.
State counsel Dzikondianthu Malunda said the case was complex as such it could not be completed within a short time hence the delay.
He, however, indicated that the State believes if given time it could still prosecute the matter to finality.
Chilumpha’s Hawkins Attorneys said that it was important for the former Vice President to see justice being delivered and some form of finality in the matter having spent 17 years in suspense.
“Like any other Malawian, I have a constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial. Such that where a case has dragged-on for as long as mine has dragged-on, there can’t be said to be any fairness,” said Chilumpha in a written response.
Chilumpha and Bingu fell out soon after they were voted into power on UDF ticket after they were both handpicked by Bakili Muluzi.
The state alleged that Chilumpha wanted to use a Malawian based in South Africa, Thomas Ndlovu to assassinate Mutharika, saying the meeting allegedly took place at Chilumpha’s Mudi House in Blantyre and was attended by Matumula.
Ndlovu allegedly recorded the assassination plot meeting.
Both Chilumpha and Matumula strenuously rejected the allegations, describing their arrest as persecution and political witch-hunt.