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Banda on killing charge

Blantyre (Reuter) - Malawi's former "President for Life", Hastings Kamuzu Banda, and a close associate, John Tembo, were formally charged yesterday with the murder of four senior politicians, the state-owned radio reported. Two senior policemen we re charged with murder and conspiracy to murder.

On Wednesday, a commission of inquiry said police acting on official orders had killed three of Dr Banda's cabinet ministers, Aaron Gadama, Dick Matenje and Twaibu Sangala, and a MP, David Chiwanga, in May 1983 and disguised their deaths as a car accident.

Dr Banda, who ruled Malawi from independence in 1964 until he was ousted in the first multi-party elections in May last year, is under house arrest. His successor, President Bakili Muluzi, upbraided his supporters for attacking the offices of Dr Banda's Malawi Congress Party after the accusations.

Government sources said doctors would be consulted over whether Dr Banda, said to be in his mid-nineties and senile,was capable of standing trial.