Malawi treason suspects plead not guilty

2013-11-14 20:19
Malawian President Joyce Banda.

Malawian President Joyce Banda.

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Blantyre - Nine Malawian ex-ministers and senior government officials facing treason charges for an alleged plot to oust President Joyce Banda pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday.

Peter Mutharika, ex-foreign affairs minister and brother to the former president, Bingu wa Mutharika, was the first to take the stand.

"I plead not guilty," he told the High Court in the administrative capital Lilongwe.

He and eight others are accused of trying to prevent then-vice president Banda from assuming power after the death of Mutharika from heart attack on 5 April last year.

Six ministers held a late-night news conference a day after Mutharika's death, insisting he was still alive.

At the time Banda was the vice president, who under the constitution was next in line to become the president.

But Mutharika had been grooming his brother Peter to succeed him.

Banda was eventually sworn in on 7 April.

Mutharika's fellow accused included Bright Msaka, ex-chief secretary to the president, and Goodall Gondwe, a former economic planning minister who was also at one time a director at the International Monetary Fund.

High Court judge Ivy Kamanga on Thursday recused herself from the case because she was related to some of the defendants.

The defendants are currently on bail.

Read more on:    joyce banda  |  bingu wa mutharika  |  malawi  |  southern africa

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