ACB accused of not complying with court order in Batatawala case

Aslam Batawalala

Lawyer for businessperson Abdul Karim Batatawala in the K1.5 billion corruption case says the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s failure to comply with a court order is an indication that the bureau is not ready to prosecute the businessperson.

Batatawala and three people from Immigration Department are accused of conspiracy to defraud government by inflating the market price of 500 lockers procured by the Immigration Department. The four are accused of inflating the market price of the lockers sourced from Africa Commercial Agency at K2 950 560 per unit price totaling K1.5 billion. Batatawala is also accused of money laundering.

The magistrate court presiding over the case in January told ACB to serve the defence with disclosures by February 10, 2022 and that the defence should study the disclosures within 14 days before the start of the trial.

A certificate of non-compliance issued by Batatawala’s lead lawyer Alexius Nampota delivered to Blantyre Magistrate Court on February 15 shows that the defence did not receive the disclosures.

Nampota said the situation means the state is not ready with the trial and he expressed doubt that trial will resume as scheduled on 28th February.

“The implication is that it will be open to the court to consider discharging the accused persons until the State is ready to proceed with the trial,” said Nampota.

However, Imran Saidi who is also ACB chief legal and prosecutions officer said the disclosures will be filed on time ad trial will resume on 28th February.

“We are going to court because by then we will have filed those disclosures and will be guided and given proper direction on how the trial is going to be conducted,” he said.

ACB fears Batatawala could evade trial