30 January 2013

Zambia: 50 Prisoners Petition State

MORE than 50 death row convicts at Mukobeko Maximum Security Prison in Kabwe have petitioned the Government for delaying to hear their appeal cases for more than 20 years since they were sent to the gallows.

In a petition filed in the Lusaka High Court recently, William Kamoyo, who signed the petition on behalf of 56 others, stated that the convicts were now asking the court to order for their unconditional release from prison, damages and costs.

They complained that their continued imprisonment without appeals being heard amounted to psychological and physical torture, in breach of Articles 15 and 18 (2) and that the State was liable for the misdeeds of its organs.

Kamoyo said he and his friends had spent 20 years without appeal hearings since they were sentenced on grounds that their case records of appeal had gone missing.

They accused the registry personnel in the Lusaka High Court of being responsible for the loss of their files.

"I have been advised by my advocates and I verily believe that since my records of appeal and those of my other petitioners will never be found, it means that we have been deprived of the ammunition to prosecute our appeals.

"Let it be ordered that the petitioners be released from prison unconditionally simply because our appeals will never be heard," they said.

The petitioners indicated that Article 13(4) stated that any person who was unlawfully arrested or detained by any other person shall be entitled to compensation from that person, while Article 1(4) binds all persons, legislative and judicial organs of Zambia at all levels to observe the supreme law.

And the Lusaka High Court is today expected to deliver judgment in a petition involving Wilson Silungwe and 47 others in a matter in which the convicts challenged the State for delaying to sentence them after being convicted by the lower court.

The petitioners said they were convicted eight years ago on various offences by the subordinate court but because it had no jurisdiction to impose the minimum mandatory sentences prescribed by the law, their matters were referred to the High Court for sentencing.

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