10 January 2018

Malawi: State Takes Murekezi Case to Malawi Supreme Court

The State prosecutors have said they are going to Malawi Supreme Court to appeal the decision by High Court in Lilongwe to dismiss its application to discharge the defence's request for a judicial review in a case involving convicted Rwandan fugitive Vincent Murekezi.

Murekezi is wanted in his country on suspicion that he took part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda for which he was tried in absentia and sentenced to life in prison. He fled to Malawi in 2003.

Rwanda's application to have Murekezi extradited was initially dismissed by Lilongwe senior resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa who also noted that the State was free to make a fresh extradition application once the process was regularised.

Following the ruling, Malawi and Rwanda signed an extradition treaty, effectively meaning that Murekezi could be extradited to his home country since the initial bottleneck the absence of an extradition pact between the two countries had been cleared.

However, through lawyers Wapona Kita and Gift Katundu, Murekezi opposed the application of the retrospective treaty and subsequently applied for a judicial review which the State wanted discharged.

The State wanted the order for judicial review to be discharged, they argued that the decision sought to be reviewed is not amenable to judicial review and an abuse of court process.

But in her ruling, High Court judge Ruth Chinangwa, argues that the matter is suitable for judicial review.

Senior assistant chief State advocate in the Ministry of Justice,Stephen Kayuni, said they are appealing against the High Court decision at the Supreme Court.

"We have already field a notice of appeal," he said.

Kayuni said the State already obtained a stay for the decision and the Hihgh Court granted in Lilongwe has granted them leave to appeal.

But Murekezi's lawyer, Kita, said the State has "jumped some stages" in the appeal and that the Supreme Court cannot accept the Murekezi file.

Police arrested Murekezi on December 8 2016 after a grouping calling itself Concerned Citizens piled pressure on government to have the Rwandese extradited over genocide case.

The suspected fugitive offender has lived in Malawi Malawi since 2003. He initially applied for temporary residence permit after securing police clearance.

Besides the extradition. Murekezi is currently serving a five-year jail term after he was convicted of corruption charges.

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