Bushiri’s extradition case stalls over choice of magistrate
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RUSTENBURG - Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri's defence lawyer in his extradition case is set to file documents for the presiding magistrate to be recused.
Wapona Kita for Bushiri wants Magistrate Patrick Chirwa to be excused from the case, stating that he is conflicted as he is the magistrate who authorised a warrant of arrest against Shepherd Bushiri and wife, Mary.
The couple are challenging the warrant of arrest in the Lilongwe High Court, according to Malawi media reports.
The warrant was issued about two weeks ago after Bushiri's daughters and mother-in-law were prevented from travelling to Kenya, where his one daughter was due to receive medical treatment in Nairobi.
Chirwa took over from Magistrate Viva Nyimba, who had presided over the matter previously.
The case was postponed to March 15 to allow the defence to file a formal recusal application.
Chirwa reportedly issued a warrant of arrest against the couple. They then obtained an interdict stopping the police from arresting them.
They appeared in the Lilongwe High Court on the interdict matter, and the case was rolled over to March 16 for the defence to peruse the contents of the documents from the State.
The charismatic preacher and his wife are wanted in South Africa on fraud and money-laundering charges related to an investment scheme valued at about US$7 million.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church leader and his wife were arrested in South Africa, but after being granted bail they fled to Malawi, claiming they were not safe in South Africa.
As part of their bail conditions they were only allowed to travel within South Africa’s Gauteng and North West provinces until the case was finalised. The couple own a hotel in Rustenburg in North West.
They handed themselves over to the police in Malawi after a warrant of arrest was issued by Interpol.
Lilongwe magistrate Nyimba released them unconditionally, stating that their arrest was unlawful because there was no formal request from South Africa.
He ruled that the couple could be summoned to court and not arrested.
Pretoria has since formally requested Lilongwe to send back the couple to stand trial on charges of theft, fraud, forgery and failing to comply with bail conditions in South Africa.
- African News Agency