Chinese national, Bin Liu, is finally expected to begin defending himself before the Lilongwe Chief Resident Magistrate Court on Friday, 19th May 2023, almost a year after the court found him with a case to answer over wildlife crime charges and illegally acquiring a firearm.
Following the court ruling in May 2022, Liu’s lawyers asked for 45 days “to prepare themselves to defend their client”. The court did not reconvene thereafter.
On Wednesday, both sides confirmed that the court reconvenes Friday, with the defence stating that “they are ready to defend their client”. Patrick Chirwa, now a Judge of the High Court of Malawi, will continue sitting as the Chief Resident Magistrate for this case.
Court documents show, in part, that Liu faces charges bordering on possession of ivory weighing 10.250 kilograms and valued at MK9.2 million, skull of Impala worth MK1.4 million and acquiring a firearm from another person without a permit in writing.
Following the winding up of the parade of nine witnesses by state prosecutors in May last year, the court found Liu with a case to answer on the charges, as follows:
(1) Possession of specimen of listed species, namely: 13 pieces of raw ivory and five pieces of processed ivory without permits.
(2) Possession of endangered species, namely: one skull of a bushbuck and one skull of Impala without permit.
(3) Acquiring a firearm from another person without a permit in writing.
The first two offences are against the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 2017. The third offence, on the other hand, is contrary to the Firearms Act.
In a brief interview, Joseph Chiume, one of Liu’s lawyers from Chiume and Company, said they are ready for defence.
“The accused did not commit the alleged offences,” he said.
Liu was arrested in August 2021 after the police, accompanied by wildlife officials and sniffer dogs, conducted a search at his house in Area 47 in Lilongwe–following a tip–and found the illegal items.