No Names for Now – ACB
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has insisted will not rush into making public names of alleged judge shoppers in the high profile elections case prematurely.
ACB Director General, Reyneck Matemba, says they will only make public identities of the suspects only when they are done with investigations and are sure they have 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 investigation 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. Unfortunately, I am afraid to say that we will work within the legal framework laid before us by parliament and we have no option but to follow that,” said Matemba.
Legal commentator, Justin Dzonzi, says there are legal principles guiding ACB’s decision to keep anonymous the 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 that has expired to make public the names of alleged judge shoppers.