UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) leader, Hakainde Hichilema, who was arrested, yesterday appeared in a Lusaka Magistrate's court where he pleaded 'not guilty' to a charge of publishing false news.
Mr Hichilema has been charged with publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public, contrary to Section 67 (1) (2) of the Penal Code CAP 87 of the laws of Zambia.
Hichilema, earlier appeared before officers at the Zambia Police Service headquarters before being driven to Woodlands Police Station where arrest formalities were conducted.
In court, particulars of the offence were that on June 11, this year, Hichilema, 50, orally published statements in which he said among others that "the PF had signed an arrangement for the militia in Sudan to train PF youths. Prepare for trouble. Do you know what is going on in Darfur?
"Do you know what is going on in Abyei? Do you know what is going on there? Killings!"
Hichilema denied the charge before chief resident magistrate, Joshua Banda and was granted a K30 million cash bail with two working sureties.
Mr Banda warned Hichilema through his lead lawyer, Sakwiba Sikota to ensure that his supporters did not disturb court proceedings.
"Tell your client to counsel his supporters not to disturb the court. We will not allow anyone to disturb the court in future. No cadre from whichever party should be allowed to disturb the court," Mr Banda said.
The matter comes up on September 13, this year for mention, while trial would take place from October 1 to October 5, 2012.
After being released on bail, Hichilema said he was strong and that the Government was embarrassing itself, while MMD leader Nevers Mumba, who turned up, accused the Government of intimidating opposition leaders.
Hichilema, who was supposed to appear before the police last Friday, failed to do so and instead had his lawyers represent him.
The lawyers proffered an apology that their client was unable to show up as he was unwell.
This followed an earlier incident on Wednesday when Mr Hichilema could not be interviewed by police following his party cadres' unruly behaviour resulting in police firing teargas within the Lusaka Central Police Station premises.
Earlier yesterday, at the police service headquarters around 10:00 hours, Hichilema refused to be questioned from the second floor of the building and insisted that the interview be conducted on the ground floor.
He told Zambia Police Service deputy spokesperson, Charity Chanda-Munganga, who had welcomed him that he would not go upstairs because he did not want to risk the lives of the people that had accompanied him. He accused President Sata of being a dictator and claimed that the police wanted to eliminate him.
He was accompanied by Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president, Charles Milupi, MMD vice-chairperson, Kabinga Pande, Zambia Direct Development Movement (ZDDM) president, Edwin Sakala, several party members and some UPND members of Parliament (MPs).
At the court, some former MMD ministers such as Dora Siliya, Gabriel Namulambe, and Mwansa Mbulakulima also showed up.