LILONGWE—As Malawi’s former attorney general Ralph Kasambara was being processed for his release on Tuesday, opposition lawmakers in parliament took the government to task over his continued detention after a court ordered his release.
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ephraim Mganda Chiume tried to make the case that the procedure used in Kasambara’s bail was flawed, saying Senior Magistrate Innocent Medi authorised the release at Chichiri Shopping Mall in Blantyre.
"The question arises as to how the clerk managed to get the stamp and court stationery when they are on strike,” said Chiume. “Further we are surprised with the preferential treatment the court gave to one person when thousands of Malawians are languishing in jail due to the strike."
But that explanation fell flat on its face.
"There’s no provision in the Constitution as to where a court can sit or be confined. The Minister of Justice should point that one out,” challenged Cassim Chilumpha (Nkhotakota South). “If they have problems which they seem to have with the bail and the release order, the only route is by challenging the order in court and not flouting the law."
Chilumpha, a lawyer who served as vice president during Bingu wa Mutharika’s first term, said police and government were bound by Section 153 (3) of the Constitution which clearly states that police are supposed to act under direction of the courts and called the prolonged detention of Kasambara as “strange and unlawful."
As the opposition continued to turn up the heat, the government announced that Mutharika critic Kasambara, who was last week rushed to hospital for a heart ailment and remained there until Tuesday, would be released later in the day.
Justice Minister Chiume told parliament Kasambara would face charges of assault and abduction. He said to three men had been enjoying sweet beer in Magalasi township in Blantyre when Kasambara and his security team pounced on them.
"They were tied with telephone wires, beaten with horse pipes,” he said, adding that hot sauce was applied to their genitals.
Kasamamba denies the charges. He was arrested after apprehending the men and saying they had confessed being sent by the ruling party to petro bomb his offices. The government also denies knowledge of the said plot.
Kasambara was Mutharika’s first attorney general when he came to power in 2004. His arrest last week came after he called for the impeachment of Mutharika, saying he had failed to govern the country.
He will appear in court on Friday.
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment