Judge refuses to recuse herself in Mpinganjira bribery case

Mpinganjira arriving at court Wednesday picture by Pemphero Musowa

High Court Judge Dorothy DeGabriele has refused to recuse herself from handling bribery case against business mogul Thom Mpinganjira. 

Making her ruling on Wednesday, Judge DeGabrielle said the proceedings must go ahead.

Mpinganjira will now enter his own defense and lead lawyer Patrice Nkhono asked for recess to which a 10 minute one was granted.

Nkhono when he came back applied to apply to the Supreme Court to ask if the refusal to recusal should have been made. 

He asked for a stay and prayed any timeframe would do.

Mpinganjira and lawyers talking
Mpinganjira and laywers confer during 10 minute recess-pictures by Pemphero Musowa 

But state representative Reyneck Matemba said it was baseless and without merit. He asked for continuance adding they can appeal when ever they want but proceedings must go ahead.

"Are you afraid, you said you were ready," Matemba said.

In her ruling the learned Judge DeGabrielle said Mpinganjira should enter defense and can apply to Supreme Court later.

On the issue of recusal DeGabrielle said: "It is very clear the defense are sitting on a fence as to whether all this is true or not. This is character assassination. This application was brought with ill intention. The court will not recuse itself."

Judge DeGabrielle went on to say: "It is irregular to request a judge's recusal in pre hearing. it would have been travesty of justice if i would have come to court to say I am recusing myself.

"This trial has always been public, everything this court has done is on record, it is a public trial, the independence and impartiality of the court has always been there, allowing the defendant to make applications and rule on them. It is Wrong to impune impropriety based on external issues."

She said a judge can only recuse if rights of the accused are likely to be affected.

"When bringing accusations or allegations if it's based on hearsay they must also prove they can prove in court. The person making the allegation must also be a reasonable person. 

"I read the afidavit as a reasable person. The call for judges to recuse themselves must not be taken lightly. There are likelihood of external forces to pervert justice. We would end up with no justice, because if they felt like they can apply to have the judicial officer recuse themselves. If the judicial system was going to allow recusal on unfounded allegations the judicial system would fail justice by external forces. No one would want to be in the situation I am in. It would be a circus.

"Allegations must have an ounce of proof, a premafacie but if the person bringing are not sure about their own application or what they will do about it, what should the court do...I make rulings based on facts and law, nothing else. 

"Seniority and being mentioned in allegations should not be brought here to derail proceedings," Judge DeGabrielle said.