17 January 2013

Zambia: Former Permanent Secretary, Three Others Want Corruption Charge Quashed

FORMER Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Sam Phiri and three others have asked a Lusaka magistrate's court to quash the charge of corrupt acquisition of public property on their indictment claiming there is duplicity of charges.

Phiri is jointly charged with former Zambia Daily Mail deputy managing director Davis Mataka, consultant Ngande Mwanajiti and the Zambian Newspaper Limited.

The trio is in the first count charged with corrupt acquisition of public property and revenue.

The Zambian Newspaper Limited, which is the fourth accused and in person being represented by Mwanajiti, is separately charged with unlawful printing and publication.

They were scheduled to take plea before principal resident magistrate Aridah Chuulu yesterday but their defence lawyers applied that the charge be quashed on grounds of duplicity.

Phiri's lawyers, Charles Lisita said Section 33 (1) (b) is an offence on its own and Section 33 (2) (b) is also an offence, while Section 33 (3) is another offence on its own.

Major Lisita said if the indictment remained in its current form, it would be difficult for the accused persons to defend themselves as the charge was likely to prejudice the trio at trial.

But Anti-Corruption Commission senior legal and prosecution officer Muchula Silumesi requested for more time to enable the prosecution adequately respond to the application since the defence had cited a number of authorities.

Ms Chulu adjourned the matter to January 18 for the State's response.

It is alleged in count one that Phiri, Mataka and Mwanajiti fraudulently diverted K202, 696, 050 Public Media Support Fund from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services for the production of a newspaper called, "The Zambian."

In the second count, Mataka alias "John Allan Mugwida" and Mwanajiti alias "George Banda", unlawfully published a newspaper called "The Zambian", which was not registered at the National Archives Department.

The offences were committed between January 1, 2011 and November 1, the same year in Lusaka.

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