26 January 2013

Zambia: HH's Appeal Rejected

THE Lusaka High Court has rejected an application by United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema to raise Constitutional issues on the protection of freedom of expression and discrimination.

Hichilema had appealed against Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda's decision not to refer his application to the High Court to challenge the Constitutionality of Sections 67 of the Penal Code and Articles 18, 20 and 23 of the Constitution of Zambia.

High Court Judge Christine Phiri in her ruling said the magistrate was on firm grounds to decline the application as there were no constitutional issues to refer this matter for determination.

"The foregoing this application lacks merit as it is frivolous and accordingly I dismiss it with costs and I order that the criminal matter proceeds in the lower court," Ms Justice Phiri said.

In the lower court, Hichilema is facing one count of publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to Section 67 (1) (2) of the penal Code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.

Hichilema on June 11, last year did orally publish statements in which he said "PF had signed an arrangement for the militia in Sudan to train youths, prepare for trouble. Do you know what is going on in Darfur? Do you know what is going on in Abyei? Do you know what is going on there? Killings!"

Meanwhile, the Lusaka High Court has dismissed an application by former directors of the defunct Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) Aaron Chungu and Faustin Kabwe to have their five-year jail term appeal re-opened.

The two directors had applied that their appeal should be re-opened before passing judgment, arguing that they had established fresh evidence.

High Court Judges Nigel Mutuna and Jane Kabuka in delivering the ruling yesterday said the court was not convinced with the arguments advanced.

The applicants had argued that they had established fresh evidence indicating that some witnesses were paid to testify against them.

But Ms Justice Kabuka who read the ruling said the argument could not constitute credible evidence of a bribe.

Chungu and Kabwe, who are jointly charged with former Finance Minister Katele Kalumba and his Permanent Secretary, Stella Chibanda had applied to have their appeal case re-opened before delivering judgment.

They charged that two former employees of AFSL, Enock Mwale and Isaac Chitundu were allegedly paid K800 million and K658 million, respectively, to testify against their clients.

They charged that the two witnesses were paid to "colour" their testimonies against their clients and were also paid K2.1 million and K11 million respectively, in excess of their terminal benefits.

Judgment in the main matter has since been set for March 29 this year.

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