23 January 2013

Zambia: Hakainde Hichilema Refuses to Take Plea

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

United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema yesterday refused to take plea on grounds that he needed more time to study the new offence slapped on him by the State.

Hichilema who was arrested for defamation of the President last week on Thursday was supposed to take plea on the same day in the afternoon but could not because the indictment was with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and was adjourned to yesterday.

When the matter came up yesterday, defence lawyers led by Sakwiba Sikota told the court that their client was not ready to take plea because he was only availed with the new indictment before he was ushered into Court.

Hichilema 50, of Serval Road Kabulonga in Lusaka is facing one count of defamation of the President.

On January 13 this year, Hichilema with intent to bring the President into hatred, ridicule and contempt, did allegedly publish a defamatory statement which was covered in the Daily Nation of January 14 this year.

"Your honour, we have just been given the new indictment by the State a few minutes ago and we only have instructions based on the earlier indictment when he appeared in another court, we noted that it is different from the one he was arrested for.

"It is for the reason that we apply to have the matter adjourned to allow us obtain new instructions and to study the new offence before our client takes plea," Mr Sikota said.

Other defence lawyers are Jack Mwiimbu, Martha Mushipe, Paul Katupisha and Dindi and Company.

State prosecutor Simon Tembo said the indictment was the same except for minor changes but did not object to the application for an adjournment though he emphasised that plea be taken as soon as possible.

In granting the application, Magistrate Boniface Mwiinga said the accused should understand the charge he is facing before taking a fresh plea.

The matter was adjourned to January 28 for plea.

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