[JURIST] Former president of Malawi Bakili Muluzi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of corruption and theft in the Malawi High Court [Britannica backgrounder]. Muluzi, who stepped down as president in 2004 following two five-year terms in office, is accused [Nyasa Times report] of 12 counts of corruption involving a person employed in public office for allegedly stealing 1.7 billion Malawi kwacha (USD $12 million). The money was donated to Malawi as aid from several countries, including Taiwan, Morocco and Libya. Muluzi contends that the charges are politically motivated by President Bingu wa Mutharika [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The trial, which has been repeated delayed because of Muluzi's health issues, is scheduled [Nyasa Times report] to begin on December 8.
Muluzi was arrested [JURIST report] in 2006 and originally charged with 42 counts of corruption, fraud and theft by the Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) [official website]. In May 2009, a court barred [JURIST report] Muluzi from participating in the upcoming presidential election. The court held that the Malawi Constitution [text] prohibits Muluzi from running for office after serving two consecutive five-year terms. In January 2009, the Supreme Court of Appeal struck down [JURIST report] an injunction that had stalled the investigation into the alleged theft. Mutharika has demonstrated his desire to see Muluzi punished for the alleged corruption. In August 2006, Mutharika called for the resignation of the Director of Public Prosecutions after he dropped [JURIST reports] the corruption charges against Muluzi on the eve of his original trial.