BLANTYRE--The state-run corruption-busting body, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), has summoned lawyers representing incarcerated former Attorney General Ralph Kasambara to explain how they obtained bail for the outspoken lawyer while courts are on strike.
In an internal notice to members Malawi Law Society (MLS) Secretary General Jabber Alide said Jonathan Kara and Wapona Kita, who applied for and obtained the bail, will be quizzed how the process was conducted.
Kita confirmed the summons, telling MaraPost he would appear before the ACB on Monday while his colleague, Kara, would appear Friday.
"The letter is kind of vague for it is just saying I should go and answer about the role I played in Ralph's bail application," he said.
Meanwhile, Kita said Kasambara's lawyer Thursday brought to Chichiri Maximum Prison - where Kasambara has spent two nights - a release order properly signed by a magistrate but prison authorities ignored them.
"They are saying they are no longer interested in the release order," he said.
Kita's colleague, Kara, told journalists outside the prison gates that prison authorities told him that Lexa Chalera, the head of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Malawi Police Service, has instructed them not to release him in her absence.
"We don't know what is happening," he said.
Kara hinted they might consider suing prison and police officers involved for contempt of court," he said.
Police spokesman Dave Chingwalu said he wasn’t aware of any order about Kasambara.
In a related development, the former Attorney General was being moved to Zomba Maximum Prison in the eastern city of Zomba, 70 kilometres east of Blantyre.
"We're currently on a solidarity convoy to Zomba to make sure nothing happens to him along the way," said Dr. Jesse Kabwila-Kapasula, president of the Chancellor College Academic Staff Union in the city, who was outside Chichiri Maximum Security Prison in solidarity.
Kasambara, who is also an adjunct law professor at Chancellor College, was
Pres Bingu wa Mutharika's first Attorney General when he took power in 2004.
He was arrested on Monday after his guards apprehended three of five men who were allegedly sent to petrol bomb his office. He claimed the three confessed during interrogation being sent by government to harm him.
He was detained alongside five associates as he reported the incident to police.
Information Minister Patricia Kaliati, however, denies government's involvement in the case. She nonetheless accused the outspoken lawyer of kidnapping and torturing the suspects.
Kasambara has been one Pres Mutharika's harshest critic since he was fired as attorney general. He told journalists from Chichiri Prision Wednesday that the arrest will not deter him from consolidating democracy in Malawi which he said was being eroded by Mutharika's dictatorial tendencies.
"Bingu should resign forthwith for his incompetence and failure to defend democracy," he said
Kasambara joins a number of critics of Mutharika's strong-arm style of governance that made him unpopular. In July last year, nineteen unarmed demonstrators were killed in the country’s unprecedented nationwide anti-government demonstrations.
Western multi-lateral donor agencies and governments have also suspended all development aid to the impoverished southern African country because of deteriorating economic and political governance standards.
British High Commissioner to Malawi, Fergus Cochraine-Dyet, was expelled last year after a leaked memo to British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the 77-year-old economist-turned-politician as "increasingly becoming autocratic and intolerant of criticism".
---©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment