Dr Thomson Mpinganjira, a rich Malawian businessman, has been found guilty by the High Court in Blantyre in Malawi of attempting to bribe a panel of five Constitutional Court justices hearing the controversial Presidential Elections Cases in 2020.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had detained Thomson Mpinganjira, who owns a commercial bank in Malawi, in January 2020 after the High Court’s chief justice, Andrew Nyirenda, claimed that he had attempted to bribe the judges.
The ACB had brought six bribery-related charges against Mpinganjira, who pleaded not guilty. In her ruling on Friday, Judge Dorothy DeGabriele stated the court showed beyond a reasonable doubt that Mpinganjira wanted to bribe the five judges.
“The court found the accused person under counts 1 and 2 for offering an advantage to Justice [Healey] Potani and Justice [Michael] Tembo who were public officers and for the benefit of that advantage to be shared among the judges, to induce the judges to make a decision in favour of the respondent. The accused person is hereby convicted accordingly,” DeGabriele said.
Tamando Chokotho, Mpinganjira’s lawyer, asked the court to consider non-custodial punishment, noting that his client is a first-time offender and responsible.
Malawi’s solicitor general, Reyneck Matemba, rejected calls for a non-custodial sentence, saying the convict needs a maximum prison term to serve as a lesson to future criminals.
“What the convict wanted to do, the offence which he has committed is a very serious offence,” Matemba said.
“He wanted to defeat the course of justice in one of the most high-profile cases in this country, ever.”
Following the conviction, DeGabriele revoked Mpinganjira’s bail, remanding him to Chichiri Prison in Blantyre to await his sentencing.
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