Zambia: Chiluba’s acquittal sets high hopes for ex Malawi president’s corruption case

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Former Zambian president Fredrick Chiluba has said he has “defeated the devil” and will now demand that his immunity from prosecution be restored. On Monday, Chiluba was acquitted off all graft chargers.

Chiluba’s immunity was lifted in 2003 by parliament to facilitate investigation and prosecution over alleged corruption during his tenure as president.

Chiluba will demand that parliament in its next sitting restore his immunity.
“His argument will be that the grounds upon which he was stripped have
been satisfied. Chiluba say that he will argue that a competent Zambian court has cleared him of all allegations and charges on which
he was stripped” said Chishimba Mwana a Zambian.

In 2007, a U.K. High Court gave a guilty verdict in a corruption case against Chiluba. It was proved that the ex president had transfered over ten million dollars into his personal accounts in British banks. The ruling which is outside the boundaries of the Zambian courts could become legally binding after high level deliberations, if Chiluba’s prosecution immunity is not restored.

Criticizing the court ruling, the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) president Michael Sata has said the acquittal of Chiluba shows the inability by the current government to fight corruption. Sata says the Rupiah Banda regime has no capacity to continue with legacy of late Levy Mwnawasa.

At a press briefing after the acquittal Chiluba said, “I said sometime back that I stand on a rock and whoever plays with that rock it will crush him… For all these eight long years I have been subjected to a lot of harassment, persecution, shame and embarrassment”

He added, “My wife has been called a thief merely by association because she is my wife and she has held on to me. This is true love, darling… In Zambia we don’t steal, we are honest, and on behalf of my wife I just want to thank everybody, the press who mistook me as a thief now know that I am an innocent man”

Meanwhile, Monday’s landmark ruling clearing Chiluba of all corruption charges has given hope to neighbouring Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi who is standing trial on similar allegations.

Muluzi, who ruled the southern African country between 1994 and 2004, stands accused of diverting at least US$ 13 million of donor money meant for various government development projects to his personal accounts.

He denies the charges, alleging political persecution by his successor Bingu wa Mutharika. “This is a good pointer for us that Muluzi will be acquitted,” Fahad Assani, one of the lawyers defending Muluzi on his fraud and corruption allegations is today quoted saying.

“The state simply has no evidence.” he added.

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