Mussa John: Lawyer bemoans delayed justice

Lawyer representing Malawian teenager  Mussa John who was convicted on 20th June 2022 for possession of Indian Hemp and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment, has bemoaned delayed justice on the matter.

After his conviction and sentencing, Mussa John applied for review of his conviction of sentence on grounds that he was never in possession of Indian Hemp, that he was charged with a different provision and convicted with another provision.

Mussa further applied for review on grounds that there was failure by the lower Court to follow procedure where there is a plea of guilty and that he had a clear defence which was in the evidence presented by the State to the Court to support the plea and that even if the conviction were to be correct, the sentence was extremely excessive and unprecedented.

However, six weeks after he made the application, the court is yet to set up a date of the ruling, a development which human rights lawyer representing him on pro bono, Alexious Kamangila, says this is disappointing.

Counsel Kamangila has since penned the Judge President and the Registrar of the Supreme Court, saying it is disappointing that John who is 17 has been in an adult prison for more than two months now, which he said is against the law.

In the letter which has been dated August 25, 2022, the human rights lawyer further complained that the delayed justice is happening when the same court denied them an audience to hear an application for bail pending review.

“We write to humbly follow up on the ruling on application for review for Mussa John and prayer for immediate release from custody following his conviction and sentencing to 8 years imprisonment over the charge of possession of Indian Hemp.

“It has been 6 weeks and counting, but no date of ruling on Mussa’s application has been given. This is alarming when one considers that Mussa John was convicted on 20th June 2022 which means he has been in an adult prison for more than 2 months, which is against the law. Again, since June, Counsel has been seeking audience of the Court to make an application for Bail pending review, which the Court has vehemently denied to hear a mere application,” reads part of the letter.

Kamangila further said it is surprising that Castel Malawi Limited boss, Herve Milhade who was convicted of a similar offence and was fined, had his review hearing on 17th August 2022 but the same Court has already set 5th September 2022 as the day for the ruling.

He added that the Court’s conduct of Milhade’s review with urgency where it is not warranted, while handling John’s application at snail’s pace, is a clear manifestation of selective justice and Court’s failure to adhere to Constitutional morality.

In the letter, Mussa John’s lawyer says he just want the court to set up date for its ruling on the application and if the case is deemed complicated requiring an exceptionally reasoned judgment, the court should render a ruling with brief reasons and give elaborate reasons later.

“We should be grateful to have an indication from the Court handling the matter, on when the ruling will be delivered. Alternatively, and in the interest of adhering to principals of judicial independence, we pray that the Court, as a matter of extreme urgency, hears its Applicant on an application for immediate release on Bail pending ruling on review,” read another part of the latter.

The letter is coming when the 90 days which the Chief Justice gave all Judges to have delivered all outstanding judgments, expired on Monday and Judiciary is yet to address the public on the status of the ultimatum by the Chief of the Judiciary.

The development is also coming when people in the country have been complaining of selective justice and delayed judgments.

Meanwhile, Fredokiss and other young people in the country, have threatened that they will hold demonstrations against what they term Selective Justice, in support of Mussa John.

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