The High Court in Lilongwe has slapped a six-year prison term with hard labour on former Minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security, Uladi Mussa over a scandal that saw a Rwandan fugitive given a Malawian passport to avoid capture.
The Rwandan in question is Vincent Murekezi, who avoided capture for close to two decades despite an arrest warrant against him over his role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Murekezi was until his arrest in 2016 a successful businessman in Malawi, where he had been fraudulently awarded Malawian citizenship by naturalization.
He was arrested on charges different from the Genocide indictment, and following his conviction, the Malawian authorities transferred him to Rwanda last year to complete his sentence.
A similar sentence was awarded to former Regional Immigration Officer David Kwanjana.
During the sentencing, the judge handed the duo five years for the offence of abuse of office and twelve months for neglect of official duties and the sentences will be served concurrently, meaning they will be in jail for five years.
In his ruling, Justice Chifundo Kachale disqualified the two from holding any public office for the next seven years. He said Mussa and his counterpart Kwanjana missed the rare trust that well-deserving Malawians conferred upon them.
“Negligence of official duties and abuse of office by Uladi Mussa and David Kwanjana cannot be condoned, as such, they deserve stiffer punishments to deter would-be offenders,” added Kachale.
The sentencing came after the two former senior officials were convicted last week.
The lawyer for the state, Kamudoni Nyasulu, said that he is satisfied with the sentence even though he was pleading with the court to hand the convicts a maximum jail term.
“As the state, we were asking the court to make a summation of maximum sentences for all counts, and we expected a total of 64 years imprisonment,” said Nyasulu.
The defence through Paul Maulidi has however hinted at appealing against the judgment in Malawi’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“I have already been given by my client instructions to appeal against the conviction as we have noted a lot of errors in the judgment. I will consult with the client on the way forward concerning the sentencing,” said Maulidi.
Clad in a black suit and red necktie in a seemingly depressed tone, Mussa kept shouting to the crowd outside the courtroom that he was innocent, as he was being led away by security officers in handcuffs.