Camp court grants bail to murder suspects

A camp court sitting at Mulanje Prison has granted bail to over ten remandees who are answering charges of murder.

The camp court was last month set by the community of Sant’ Egidio, a lay movement of the Catholic Church with an aim of bringing the much-needed justice especially to suspects who has stayed in prison without being heard.

Hearing bail applications from representatives of these murder suspects on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, Justice Chirwa from Blantyre court gave bail to over ten remandees who appeared before the camp court.

Chirwa, however, denied bail to one murder suspect on grounds that the suspect fled the country after committing the crime and that there is possibility that he can do the same this time again.

The judge also reserved bail ruling for other eight murder suspect whose bail applications were already brought before other judges from Blantyre and Zomba and he does not want to make a conflicting decision with those judges.

Chirwa then applauded the camp court initiative claiming it will help in decongesting the country’s prisons by fast tracking all murders cases which have stayed long without trial.

“These camp courts are very important in the sense that they help to decongest the prison cells. There are so many people who are being held on remand and you can observe that most of these people have stayed in prison for over one year, so this is a good development,” said Chirwa.

Reacting to the development, social justice activist Alexious Kamangila (pictured), a volunteer of Sant’ Egidio which is facilitating camp court sessions, said they are excited that access to justice is being brought to the mass.

Kamangila added that Sant’ Egidio believes that delayed justice is denied justice hence setting these camp courts which are expected to see over 30 murder remandees who cannot afford a lawyer, being given a chance to be heard.

“Well, this is exciting news that there is a chance that these suspects will appear before court now after being remanded for years and yet me applaud the Judiciary for its dedication in taking the Courts to the people.

“I am also thankful to Sant’ Egidio German, Rome but more importantly, the prisoners of Würzburg Prison who have made it possible that these Malawian remandees should see their justice,” said Kamangila.

The Community of Sant’ Egidio has set up a number of Camp Courts, whose aim is to provide homicide remandees, preferably those beyond the detention time limit, a chance to be heard and considered for bail release.

This exercise incorporates the Judiciary, State Advocate (prosecutors), Legal Aid Bureau (defence lawyers) and Civil Society.

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