The Malawi High Court in commercial city of Blantyre has released on bail a man who had been languishing on remand for the past 11 years without trial.
Alex Nkula, now 34, was arrested on 17th August 2001 at Ginnery Corner in Blantyre on murder charges but for 10 years he has been denied justice.
Nkula, a resident of Ndirande Township, has been denied bail for four times- in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 and yet he was just dumped at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre without being taken to court.
But relief swallowed up Nkula, his family members and friends on Monday, May 09, when he finally breathed fresh air after the High Court in Blantyre granted him bail, thanks to Centre for Human Rights Education and Advocacy (CHREAA).
CHREAA, through its project ‘Access to Justice’, has been at the fore front fighting for several remand prisoners including Nkula to access to justice.
At the time of his arrest, Nkula was working as a clerk at one of the Blantyre based companies while at the same time operating a cross boarder small scale business.
“Mine is a typical case of justice delayed is justice denied,” said Nkhula.
He explained: “I have stayed for 10 years without being tried. I was just dumped at Chichiri Prison, I have never even been taken for mental examination as is the case with all murder suspects.”
“With the help of my relatives I have applied for bail for four times but I have always been refused and whenever I asked the authorities when I would be taken to court the answer was wait you will go,” he added.
Lawyer representing Nkula, Mandala Mambulasa, said he believes prosecutors had been playing games with his client.
“They said his file missed within the government system but now they are saying they have found the case dockets and the case is set,” he said.
Reports say when the suspect applied for bail in 2007 authorities refused him because they mistakenly thought he had already been put on trial and sentenced.
Granting bail, among others the High Court Judge ordered Nkula to be reporting at the State Advocates every two weeks and surrender his travelling documents to police.
The court further directed defense counsel to ensure that the case resumes before May 27, 2011 failing which it would revoke all the bail conditions.
Commenting on the development, CHREAA Executive Director Victor Mhango said “we are happy with Alex’s release on bail. This is clear example of justice delayed is justice denied, and we need to stop such things.”
There are reportedly over 200 murder suspects at Chichiri Prison alone and some of them have stayed for over three years without trial.—(Reporting by Green Muheya, Nyasa Times)