30 October 2017

Malawi: Lawyer Wadi Accuses Malawi Police of Torturing Three Women - Ask Court for Inquiry

Lawyer for three women arrested on suspicion that they assaulted a fellow woman in Lilongwe's Area 24, Ishamel Wadi, has accused the police of torturing the trio.

Wadi, a former Director of Public Prosecution, is representing Flora Chinguwo, Norah Chatsika and Getrude Banda, who are answering charges of committing an act intended to cause grieveous bodily harm and insulting the modesty of a woman.

The three were arrested after a video clip went viral on social media where they were capture assaulting a woman identified as Bridget Kumchulesi.

Wandi told Lilongwe Magistrate Court when the three appeared that police use of excessive force against the suspects was tantamount to torture.

"Police investigators beat them up. They stripped them naked. They were bundled in a police vehicle. At Kawale police station, they were put ina small, smelly toilet. Their pictures were taken. Theyw ere told they would face [tit -for-tat] what the complainant faced," Wadi told the court.

He asked the court for "an inquiry into the manner in which the accused persons were held" and subjecting them to physical torture.

The women pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Wadi said they were not fit and well to stand trial and asked for their release on bail.

But Cecilia Zangazanga, prosecuting, said the State has "no information of torture."

Zangazanga dismissed bail bid on grounds that the women were not psychologically ready to stand trial, saying that can only be raised by a medical doctor.

Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Chiotcha is expected to make a determinatiob on bail on Monday.

There have neen several reports compiled by a human rights organisation of cases of torture in police stations in Malawi to force suspects to confess crimes.

In one report, Jeremiah Kaboma, 43, claims on March 17 2017 a police officer at Chigwirizano Police Station in Lilongwe hit him on the head with a gun butt. Kaboma claims that following the ordeal he was not able to hear from his left ear for several days.

In another report, Alec Kazembe claims in October 2016 police at Lilongwe Police Station in Area 3 also hit him with the metal shaft of a gun, stabbed him with a screwdriver and hit him with a baton on his left flank, hip and at the back. Another police assault victim, Paulo Kaliati, claims he sustained multiple wounds after being beaten by CID officers at Bvumbwe Police Station to force him to confess a crime.

In another case, Mike Ngalande reported that police from Bangwe in Blantyre hit him with the blunt side of a panga knife, earning him bruises on the face, ankle and the right flank.

He reported that police officers took turns to pull him on the ground with his arms and legs tied as punishment for attempting to escape from court.

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