16 January 2013

Zambia: Court Stays Proceedings Against Hichilema

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

The Lusaka Magistrate Court has upheld the Supreme Court order to stay proceedings in the trail of opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Hakainde Hichilema.

This is a case in which Hichilema is facing accusations of "publication of false news" under the Chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda for statements he made criticising the ruling Patriotic Front party and President Michael Sata.

When the matter came up for continued trial today, Hichilema's defence lawyer Sakwiba Sikota applied for an application review in the matter following the Supreme Court's decision to stay proceedings.

He said the defence team had served the state with the Supreme Court order through State prosecutor Catherin Phiri.

Hichilema's lawyers applied for the stay of the matter to establish the legality of having their client charged under section 67 of the penal code Chapter 87 of the laws of Zambia.

The magistrate court however quashed the application to have the matter heard in the High Court.

Hichilema along with his fellow opposition leader Nevers Mumba of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) are facing several charges ranging from "defamation" of the President to "abuse of authority" and "unlawful assembly and conduct likely to cause the breach of peace" relating to the holding of their political rallies.

The accused deny the charges and have cast the proceedings as a politically motivated attempt to eliminate political competition in Zambia. Independent civil society groups such as the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR) have condemned the trials of opposition leaders for having no basis under law.

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