Former president held for corruption charges

By Raphael Tenthani

Blantyre, Malawi - Malawi's former President Bakili Muluzi was arrested Thursday on fraud and corruption charges amid questions about millions of dollars in donor funds that allegedly ended up in his personal account.

A team from the state Anti-Corruption Bureau took Muluzi to their office in the commercial capital, Blantyre, for over an hour of questioning before releasing him, his lawyers said.

"The former president denies all the charges, and he has invoked his constitutional right to remain silent," attorney Fahad Assani said. "Since the Anti-Corruption Bureau has already made a decision to take him to court, Dr Muluzi found no reason to furnish them with any statement."

Muluzi faces 40 counts of fraud and corruption related to six charges, Fahad said. He provided no details of the charges.

Corruption bureau officials were not immediately available to comment. But its director, Gustave Kaliwo, has previously said there were issues Muluzi had to explain "regarding some of his financial dealings while in power."

According to Kaliwo, these include millions of dollars worth of donor money that found its way into Muluzi's personal account.

Muluzi claims to be a victim of "political persecution," citing a long-running feud with his hand-picked successor, Bingu wa Mutharika.

Wa Mutharika quit Muluzi's United Democratic Front party last year, accusing his former allies of blocking his clampdown on corruption, and survived a subsequent attempt to impeach him. Several former government officials are either being investigated or are on trial for fraud and corruption. - Sapa-AP

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