16 November 2012

Zambia: Ruling Reserved in Hakainde Hichilema's Case

THE Lusaka High Court has reserved ruling in a matter in which United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema has appealed against the magistrate court's decision to refer his matter to the High Court to determine constitutional issues.

In the same case, State advocate Marian Bah has asked the court not to entertain Mr Hichilema's appeal because it was trite law in that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction on an interlocutory ruling made by a lower court.

Hichilema, 50, who is charged with publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public, contended that the magistrates court's decision to reject his application to refer his case to the High Court was wrong.

On June 11, this year Hichilema orally published statements in which he said, inter-alia, "PF had signed an arrangement for the militia in Sudan to train PF youths."

The matter which was before Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda had not commenced trial because Hichilema had applied for leave to have the matter referred to the High Court for constitutional issues.

But before ruling was delivered, Hichilema lodged an appeal in the higher court.

In his ruling at the time, the magistrate rejected the application indicating that there were no constitutional issues, as there was only a criminal charge against the opposition leader.

The matter came up for an appeal hearing yesterday before High Court Judge Christine Phiri who after hearing both parties decided to reserve ruling.

The State submitted that there was considerate procedure to which an appeal to an interlocutory ruling should be heard by the High Court bearing in mind the supremacy of the Zambian Constitution.

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