14 January 2013

Zambia: Hichilema Requests More Time in 'False News' Case

Photo: Zambia Reports
Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, president of the United Party for National Development (UPND).

Opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema of the United Party for National Development (UPND) today asked the Lusaka magistrate to adjourn the case in which he is facing charges of publication of false news.

When he appeared before Chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda, Hichilema said he needed ample time to map out the defence with his legal counsel before the commencement of trial tomorrow.

Magistrate Banda granted the application and ordered for trial to commence tomorrow.

The 50-year-old politician was arrested and charged with treason, later downgraded to the offence of 'publishing false news' for making statements to a newspaper on June 11, 2012, claiming that the ruling Patriotic Front party had signed an agreement with the Sudanese ruling party to train youth cadres. His lawyers say that the charges are politically motivated and represent a violation of his rights to free expression, pointing out that the newspaper that published the interview was not charged and that in fact, the agreement with Sudan exists.

The government says this statements was likely to cause fear and alarm to the public.

He however pleaded not guilty of having committed the offence.

Hichilema earlier appealed that his case be heard in the High Court, an application which magistrate Banda turned down.

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