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Malawi ex-education secretary gets jail sentence as anti-corruption sweep continues

[JURIST] A Malawian court Wednesday sentenced the former principal secretary in the country's Ministry of Education [official website] to two years in jail for "aiding and abetting the theft of public funds," making him the most senior civil servant to be sentenced as the African nation continues a crackdown on corruption. Sam Safuli was originally suspended in 2000 from his post as education secretary and has been found guilty of authorizing a $1,000 payment to a building contractor in 1999 even though the builder never finished his contract to complete a school construction job.

The charges against Safuli stem from a larger conspiracy plot that led to the arrest [JURIST report] of former Malawi [government website; BBC country profile] President Bakili Muluzi [BBC profile] last week for 42 counts of corruption, fraud and theft. Those charges were dropped [JURIST report] Monday. Malawi's parliamentary public accounts committee found that Muluzi supporters were awarding building contracts, but the money was then being re-routed to Muluzi's presidential campaigns which allowed him to stay in office for 10 years until 2004. The charges against Muluzi were dropped after his hand-picked successor to the presidency, Bingu wa Mutharika [official profile; BBC profile], suspended the head of the country's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) [official website]. Sapa-AFP has more.

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