Malawi ex-minister’s trial delayed

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IOL pic oct22 malawi president joyce banda AFP Malawi President Joyce Banda. File photo: AFP

Blantyre, Malawi - The trial of Malawi's ex-justice minister Ralph Kasambara for attempted murder was delayed Wednesday after his lawyers asked for a new judge, a prosecutor said.

“The defence team applied for the Judge Esmie Chombo to recuse herself from the case,” director of public prosecutions Bruno Kalemba said. “A new judge has to be found.”

The ex-minister and four others are accused of the attempted murder of a top treasury official who was on the verge of exposing a government corruption ring, now known as “cashgate”.

The scandal implicated senior ministers, resulting in the sacking of the entire cabinet by President Joyce Banda.

One of Kasambara's lawyers alleged that the current judge was “under pressure” to sway the case in favour of the state.

The lawyer, Gift Mankhwawa, did not elaborate on saying that “at the moment it's just an allegation.”

Some 68 state employees are currently facing corruption charges for the looting of more than $20 million dollars (15 million euros) state funds, after the scandal was uncovered in October 2013.

Government blamed “loopholes” in the payment system introduced when the late president Bingu wa Mutharika started his term for the massive looting of public funds.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 40 percent of its state budget funded by foreign donors.


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