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 2010-10-19 02:41 pm Back to NEWS
Judge was bribed for bail, says Mohan
FILE: Murder accused Matthew Mohan (left) 

Inktech managing director Matthew Mohan yesterday told the Lusaka High Court that a judge was paid US$200,000 in order to grant bail to Lusaka businessman Anuj Kumar Rathi, who was convicted by the magistrate's court, while a magistrate received US$250,000 in the same case.

And Mohan told the court that Lusaka lawyer Robert Simeza introduced late Cyclone Hardware proprietor Sajid Itowala to him in their quest to help Rathi escape from lawful custody.

Meanwhile, Simeza has withdrawn from the case as amicus curiae or friend of the court.

This is in a case in which Mohan is jointly charged with Idris Patel and Shabia Patel with murder. It is alleged that the three, acting with others unknown, brutally murdered Itowala in July last year.

Opening his defence in the matter before judge Gregory Phiri yesterday, Mohan claimed that Rathi's father, a Mr G.K. Rathi, released US$750,000 which was supposed to be paid to the judge and a magistrate. The judge was supposed to receive US$300,000 while US$450,000 was supposed to be received by the magistrate.

Mohan said Mr G.K. Rathi handed the full amount of US $750,000 to Simeza who later gave the money to Sajid. He, however, said Itowala did not give the judge and the magistrate, whom he identified as driving a Volvo car, the full amount as agreed in the meeting. He said Sajid gave the magistrate whom he met at Jazz Club in Lusaka's Longacres area US$250,000 while the judge received US$200,000 which was taken to his residence in Woodlands.

Mohan said that despite the judge receiving the US $200,000, he did not grant bail to Rathi which was supposed to be in the sum of K100 million.

Mohan said about a week before bail was denied, Simeza called for a meeting at Pamodzi Hotel for an urgent discussion. He said during that meeting, Itowala complained that the judge phoned him to complain that Rathi's relative phoned from India and complained that the bail had taken long.

Mohan also said Itowala informed the meeting that the judge was not comfortable with his involvement in money issues. He also said the judge was going to reject the bail application because of his involvement.

However, Mohan told the court that Rathi's father demanded that his money be paid back.

Earlier in the morning, Mohan told a packed courtroom that the late Itowala informed a meeting which was convened at Pamodzi Hotel by Rathi's father after efforts to have his son escape from lawful custody failed that he had fruitful discussions with a magistrate and a judge both of whom were going to help in the matter.

"When I arrived at Pamodzi Hotel, I proceeded to the lobby where I found the bodyguards for Mr Rathi who directed me to the east wing. I found Mr Simeza, Sajid Itowala and the old man Mr Rathi. Mr Rathi asked Sajid how his meeting was. He said he had actually better news because he not only met the judge but the magistrate who was going to handle the matter, Mohan narrated.

Mohan said Itowala informed them that the meeting he had with the judge was fruitful.

"He (Itowala) said Mr Simeza should do the bail application and it was going to be allocated to the right judge", Mohan said.

He said Itowala also informed them that he had met the magistrate who was going to handle the matter. Mohan said the magistrate was supposed to convict Rathi because the case was very sensitive considering that his co-accused, Lieutenant General Wilford Funjika, was already convicted and the chances of him being released were slim.

He said Itowala told the meeting that the total amount to be paid to the magistrate and judge was US $750,000.

"Mr Rathi said he had no problem with the money but wanted deliverance," he said.

Mohan said Rathi asked for five working days in which he was going to process the payment.

Earlier, Mohan told the court that Simeza is the one who introduced Itowala to Mr G.K. Rathi at Pamodzi Hotel describing him as a well-connected businessman with both the judiciary and the police.

"Mr Simeza made the introductions and after that Mr Rathi said he wanted to know the way forward." 

Mr Simeza said "'We proceed with the trial at the subordinate court and we apply for bail in the Lusaka High Court'", he said.

"Mr Rathi gave a go-ahead and said what we needed to put in place in order to succeed. At this point Sajid Itowala chipped in and said the same magistrate at the subordinate court was his friend and that in that area, we should not worry. He (Itowala) said the bail application in the High Court should be strategically planned so that it goes to the right person because there are tendencies to reject it if you don't know some people," he said.

Mohan said Itowala received a call from a person from High Court who said they should not talk too much but meet at Portico Restaurant.

He said Simeza commented that Itowala was well-connected and that the people in the judiciary were in his pocket.

"Sajid mentioned that they had to make sure the finances were solid," Mohan testified. 

He said Itowala then excused himself and said he had to go and meet the judge at Portico.

"After Sajid left, Mr Simeza continued praising him that this Indian gentleman was going to deliver," Mohan said.

And Mohan told the court how he and Simeza planned to help Rathi escape from lawful custody.

He said Simeza organised two men, "Sean, a coloured, and a Mr Chileshe," with his help. 

He said Sean and Chileshe were supposed to break a lock at Chainama Hospital Prison where Rathi was taken for the medical experts to determine whether or not he could stand trial. He said as they tried to do that, the alarm went on and they ran away and the prison officers shot in the air.

When this was happening, Mohan said, he and Simeza were parked outside Chainama Hospital waiting. Mohan said when Simeza saw an ambulance entering Chainama Hospital, he phoned Sean and Chileshe asking them to leave immediately, and they complied. He said Simeza drove behind the ambulance and saw Rathi in there. He phoned Mohan who was in another vehicle saying he had seen Rathi in the ambulance for the prison and was being taken to Kamwala Remand Prison. At that stage, they left everything for the next day.

Mohan said the next day, he went straight to Kamwala Remand Prison to take some breakfast for Rathi. He said prison officers there asked him how he knew that Rhati had been moved there and he explained that the officers at Chainama told him so.

Hearing continues today.

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