/ 31 May 2008

Ex-president bailed in alleged Malawi coup plot

Former Malawian president Bakili Muluzi, who had been under house arrest over an alleged coup plot, was freed on bail on Friday after a judge said there was no reason to fear he would try to flee justice.

Muluzi was ordered to post bail of $2 000 and report to police once a month as well as inform them of any plans to travel outside Blantyre, but was otherwise a free man.

”It is unlikely that the applicant would flee from the wheels of justice,” Judge Joseph Manyungwa told a hearing at the High Court in Blantyre.

”I find no merit in refusing to grant him bail,” the judge added.

The ruling was greeted with rapturous applause by dozens of Muluzi supporters who had packed into the courthouse in the commercial capital.

Muluzi, accused of trying to topple his successor, President Bingu wa Mutharika, with the aid of a former army chief, has not been formally charged since his arrest on Sunday on his return from a holiday in Britain.

He has dismissed the accusations, saying the documents police showed him that linked him up to the alleged plot, were ”laughable and fake”. — AFP