First of Two 'Judge Bribery' Suspects Arrested: FDH CEO Mpinganjira
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has arrested Dr. Thomson Mpinganjira, Chief Executive Officer for FDH bank in connection with allegations that some people tried to bribe the five Constitutional Court judges trying the presidential election case.
Mpinganjira was arrested in Blantyre Wednesday morning in relation to the matter.
ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala has issued a statement saying:
“On 8th December, 2019, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) received a complaint alleging that some people were attempting to bribe the five judges sitting at the Constitutional Court hearing the Presidential Elections Case.
“The ACB instituted investigations into the matter. On 22nd January, 2020, the Anti-Corruption Bureau arrested Dr. Thomson Mpinganjira in relation to the matter,” she says.
The suspect has so far been moved from the ACB offices to Blantyre Police Station under military police escort.
The development comes after the ACB put its foot down against making public identities of the two individuals whose names were presented in an official letter written by Chief Justice, Andrew Nyirenda to the bureau on behalf of the five constitutional court judges.
The statement by the ACB, however, makes no reference to the second suspected, believed to be a judge. It is, therefore, highly likely that there could soon be another arrest.
Mpinganjira has been associated with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). However, Mpinganjira has ever addressed a press conference distancing himself from any links with the DPP.
ACB Director General, Reyneck Matemba, then promised to only make public identities of the suspects when the bureau was done with investigations and was sure they had built a strong case.
“It will come a point where people of Malawi will be able to know the people that wanted to bribe the judges. We will only be able to do that once we gather enough evidence; I will not disclose at what stage of investigations we are.
“After we are convinced that we have a good case, we don’t hide such names and normally we releases press statements once we obtain warrant of arrests which have names,” Matemba told a press conference nine days ago.
At that time, private practice lawyer, Justin Dzonzi, backed the position taken by the bureau saying all decisions of the ACB are guided by laid down legal principles including privacy of suspects.
“We have under the constitution the right to privacy which in essence means that you cannot disclose to public information about an individual unless you have legal function to do so.
“Now imagine a situation that could arise if the ACB releases the names and then after investigations, some of the individuals are found to be innocent; they would have their characters assassinated. Obviously, that could lead to legal consequences.
“One of the principles would be a principle of prejudice. If the court comes across information that is otherwise not directly relevant to a case before it, but which if it comes into public opinion, might influence public opinion in terms of what kind judgment ought to be given, then the court would generally exclude that information until after it has given its judgment to avoid a situation of prejudice,” said Dzonzi.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition gave ACB a three-day ultimate which expired Monday for ACB to make public the two names of the individuals who allegedly tried to bribe the judges.