Banda refused bail as trial date is set

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The Independent Online
Zomba (Reuter) - Angry Malawians stoned police yesterday outside a court where the former president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, and a close political associate were refused bail on murder charges.

Police fired in the air to disperse about 3,000 people who threw stones when Dr Banda's aide, John Tembo, was led out after the hearing. The former "president for life", who is in his 90s and believed to be senile, is at home, under arrest.

The magistrate rejected a bail application by Dr Banda, Mr Tembo and two police officers charged with the 1983 murder of four political opponents. He set 18 January as the trial date in the high court.

The charges relate to the deaths of three cabinet ministers, Aaron Gadama, Dick Matenje and Twaibu Sangala, and an MP, David Chiwanga, in May 1983. A inquiry commission said they had been killed by police on official orders and their deaths disguised as a car crash.

Information Minister Brown Mpinganjira said they were apparently killed for opposing Mr Tembo's appointment to serve as acting president.