5 March 2018

Malawi: Murekezi Appeal Over Corruption Conviction Dismissed

High Court in Lilongwe has dismissed an appeal by Rwandan national Vincent Murekezi of his conviction of corruption case and effectively ordered him to serve four years imprisonment effective February 2017.

Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate's Court found him guilty of corruption last March for evading K2.2 million duty with his company, Sofamu Limited in 2007

He was jailed for corruptly paying a customs clearing agent (Komani Nyasulu who served his sentence) K300 000 to facilitate evasion of import duty amounting to K2.2 million for a consignment of beer imported from Holland through Mozambique.

High Court judge Chifundo Kachale dismissed Murekezi on appeal, saying his "suggestion that the K200 000 was a legitimate payment to be untrue."

Kachale said in the ruling: "If a duty assessed on one container alone was K550 000, how could the appellant [who confided to have done similar importations before] expect that a combined payment of K200 000 plus K500 000 plus K156 00 [K856 000] could settle entire duty payable on the two containers."

The judge said the lower court did not may any material error in law in convicting Murekezi and the sentence is confirmed, saying the "perniciousness of corruption in undermining the lawful public governance mechanism cannot be overstated."

Meanwhile, Murekezi is also fighting extradition after fleeing his country before his conviction of genocide charges.

Murekezi has taken his battle for freedom to the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal following a High Court of Malawi dismissal of an application by the State to discharge his request for a judicial review in a case where government wants to send him back to his country.

The Rwandan is wanted in his native land to serve jail sentence for the role he played in the bloody 1994 genocide for which he was tried in absentia and sentenced to life imprisonment. He fled to Malawi in 2003.

An application to have Murekezi extradited was initially dismissed by the Lilongwe Senior Resident Magistrate's Court before the State revived the matter after Malawi and Rwanda signed an extradition treaty that meant that the runaway Rwandan could be sent back to Rwanda.

Stephen Kayuni, senior assistant chief State advocate in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said the matter was heading to the Supreme Court to appeal against the High Court's determination in refusing to discharge leave.

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