News

Murder suspects freed

By CAROLINE KALOMBE
FOUR murder suspects and an aggravated robbery suspect have been discharged by the High Court because of failure by the State to prosecute their cases.
Judge-in-charge Isaac Chali said he had no option but to discharge the accused persons because of failure by the prosecution to attend court sessions, which is an indication that they were not interested in prosecuting the matters.
The five are Gift Banda, Falecy Sakala, Jennipher Phiri, Steven Mbewe and Augustine Lungu. Banda, Sakala, Phiri and Lungu were charged with murder while Mbewe was facing a charge of aggravated robbery.
When the matters came up for commencement of trial, lawyers from the Legal Aid Board informed the court that there was no representation from the State and that no information on their absence was provided.
Justice Chali said the State was aware that the cases were coming up as this was communicated when the suspects gave plea on August 11 this year and that the State was represented.
He said in the absence of the prosecution and without good reasons being advanced, he had no option but to discharge the accused persons because he could not keep them in custody indefinitely.
Justice Chali further said he had emphasised at the opening of court sessions that proceedings should be starting early and the same remarks were repeated in his chambers to lawyers who were present as well as officers from the Zambia Prisons Service.
He noted that it was only officers from the Prisons Service who have been abiding by his directions to bring accused persons early.
“Yesterday [13th August], there was no representation from Legal Aid Board and no reason was advanced for their absence.
“I had to adjourn the three cases which were listed after 10:30 hours, which was a waste of time,” Justice Chali said.
He said sessions yesterday started around 09:45 hours and that there was no representation from the State, hence his conclusion that they were not interested in prosecuting the case.
“I am aware that it is a serious case of aggravated robbery but that is not the only reason why I should keep an accused person indefinitely in custody,” Justice Chali said.
He, however, told the suspects that their release was not an acquittal, which means that they could be re-arrested if the State wished to do so and that it would be their [accused persons’] misfortune.

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