Court to decide UK witnesses’ fate today

Court to decide UK witnesses’ fate today

High Court of Malawi Judge Violet Chipao will today rule on whether two witnesses from the United Kingdom’s National Crimes Agency (NCA) can testify in the case against former Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director-general Reyneck Matemba.

The ruling follows an application yesterday by Matemba seeking guidance on whether it was appropriate to have the two witnesses paraded in court purportedly without following procedures on bringing evidence and witnesses from outside the country.

He argued that sections 6 and 9 of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters state that the provision of formal evidence and witnesses from outside the country are to come through the office of the Attorney General (AG), which he said has not happened in this case.

Rapozo: ACB at liberty

Matemba, who is his own lawyer in the case, accused the ACB of making shortcuts in bringing witnesses and trying to provide evidence for the case.

He said: “For evidence from the banks, you apply the Banks Act. The Extradition Act regulates issues of extradition. Likewise, issues of mutual assistance come under Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act. The Act was enacted for a purpose.”

The NCA, a crime-fighting law enforcement agency, investigated alleged corrupt dealings of businessperson Zuneth Sattar in Malawi and Matemba was one of the government officials arrested by the ACB in connection with the Sattar deals.

Matemba further asked the ACB to provide the court with an agreement that the bureau and NCA entered on sharing of intelligence for the court to appreciate the agreement.

In response, ACB principal legal and prosecutions officer Golda Rapozo said ACB is not barred from inviting officers from the NCA to testify in the court of law.

She said the witnesses have been brought in to speak to the facts according to the matter in UK, and it will be up to the court to decide whether the facts presented are evidence.

Said Rapozo: “While we agree that was was received was information, it is the duty of the state to prove it is evidence. The State feels it is evidence and that cannot be proved if witnesses are not allowed to testify.”

On providing the court with the agreement between ACB and NCA,  she said there was need for the prosecution team to check for the document as they had been ambushed.

Matemba is answering corruption charges, including failure to declare interest in the approval and vetting of the $7.875 million Malawi Police Service food rations contract awarded to Sattar’s firm while serving as board member of the Public Procurement and Disposal Assets Authority and Solicitor General.

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