MDF snubs Chilima lawyers’ demand

MDF snubs Chilima lawyers’ demand

Malawi Defence Force (MDF) on Tuesday argued against submitting to the court details reuested by Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s legal team, insisting their contents border on national security.

Meanwhile, High Court of Malawi Financial Crimes Division Judge Redson Kapindu, who heard the matter in camera on Tuesday, has reserved his ruling to a date to be announced.

The defence team wants the court to issue an order compelling MDF to disclose the documents for use in the case.

Speaking to journalists after the hearing, one of the defence lawyers Bright Theu said MDF insisted that sharing the documents would put national security in jeopardy.

He said: “The court is yet to render its decision, so until then, we can’t know what the outcome will e, whether to allow the documents to be disclosed or not. We want those documents because we want to use them.”

But Theu declined to provide details of the arguments the defence team advanced during on Tuesday’s hearing, saying doing so defeats for the purpose of holding hearings in camera.

Attorney General (AG) Thabo Chakaka-Nyirenda, who was in attendance, did not grant media interviews as he said he was rushing to his next assignment.

However, AG’s office deputy director for civil litigation Neverson Chisiza, speaking on his behalf, said considering the sensitivity of the documents, it is the position of the MDF not to disclose them as they border on issues of national security and defence.

He said: “You will appreciate that the MDF, through the office of the Attorney General, were invited to make our representations as to whether or not the court should issue an order compelling the MDF to disclose certain documents and we came and presented our case.”

The court has given both parties up to Friday this week to file written submissions.

Chilima was not present in court on Tuesday.

Last month, the court summoned MDF to explain why it is refusing to furnish the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) with the documents which include a memo from MDF to President Lazarus Chakwera on procurement of armoured vehicles.

Defence lawyers are demanding the defence council minutes that allegedly authorised MDF to enter into a contract with United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar’s firms to supply military equipment.

ACB earlier submitted that it had difficulties obtaining the said documents from MDF, prompting Kapindu to order MDF’s appearance in court.

In the case, Chilima is accused of allegedly demanding and receiving an unspecified amount of money from Sattar purportedly to influence the award of contracts to a Sattar-linked firm.

The ACB initially accused Chilima of receiving $280 000 from Sattar for this deal, only to change charges almost 10 months after his arrest.

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