Mkukula Magistrate Releases On Bail Anti-Chizuma Demonstrators
The Mkukula Magistrate Court in Dowa on Friday released on bail five concerned citizens arrested on Thursday for conduct likely to cause a breach of peace, following demonstrations that were headed for the office of the Anti-Corruption Bureau chief, Martha Chizuma, to seal it.
Magistrate Montfort Misunje threw out concerns by the state that the five, including leaders Redson Munlo and Agape Khombe, may among other things interfere with police investigations that are yet to conclude.
In his bail ruling, Misunje ignored most of the reasons presented by the state for the court to deny the accused bail, thus releasing them and adjourning the matter to 3 June for plea-taking.
Earlier, state prosecutor Dalireni Kalanguluka asked the court to deny the five accused bail, and remand them until the conclusion of the investigations by Monday.
He said their charge of conduct likely to cause breach of peace, which was not sanctioned by the district commissioner, could change to a serious one upon conclusion of the investigations, because their action may have resulted in greater consequences.
Kalanguluka added it's not every time the accused should be released on bail, especially in an event investigations are yet to conclude, and the accused may interfere with the investigations.
In his argument, defense lawyer William Chiwaya told the court that the state did not provide enough evidence that the accused may interfere in investigations, intimidate witnesses and are a flight risk.
Chiwaya argued that bail guidelines in the country provide accused persons the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that can happen when out on bail.
“There was nothing stopping the state from concluding the investigations while the accused are out on bail, afterall the court can impose tough conditions if the state's fears are to be cleared. I am glad now that the magistrate has granted the bail, justice has been served,” said Chiwaya after the ruling.
The five Redson Munlo, Agape Khombe, Daniel Daudi, a form 2 secondary school student at Mkwichi Secondary School Benard Kalitsiro and Hastings Makawa, were arrested on Thursday during demonstrations that were headed for the Anti-Corruption Bureau offices.
They were part of the concerned citizens who had been holding vigils near the National Assembly for seven days to force the firing or voluntary resignation of the ACB top dog Martha Chizuma, who they attempted to seal her office following the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum.