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Chiluba Acquittal a Triumph of Truth, Justice says Spokesman


A spokesman for former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba, who was acquitted Monday of corruption charges, said the verdict is a triumph of truth and justice.

Prosecutors had accused Mr. Chiluba of embezzling $500,000 in public funds during his tenure as Zambia's first democratically elected leader from 1991 to 2001.

Spokesman Emmanuel Mwamba criticized multi-national institutions and Great Britain in particular for providing funding and technical assistance to ensure Mr. Chiluba's guilt as an example of the fight against corruption in Africa.

Spokesman Mwamba said former President Chiluba is looking forward to making his contribution to Zambia as an elder statesman.

"He's very happy to have received this positive verdict. He says it is a triumph of truth and justice. He just hopes that the country will unite and begin to look forward and allow him to make contribution that he can to this country and to Africa," he said.

Mwamba said the former president is not concerned about an appeal of the verdict by the Zambian government.

"It doesn't matter what they do. As he has always stated that he didn't steal this money to give to his children and to his lawyer. He has refused that he gave government money to educate his children," Mwamba said.

In 2007, a London High Court found former President Chiluba guilty of stealing $46 million from Zambian state coffers during his 10 years in office.

Mwamba said Mr. Chiluba has always said he does not respect the jurisdiction and ruling of the London court.

"If you remember that he objected being taken to London. Zambia is an independent country; Zambia has an independent judiciary for the last 44 years, and he didn't think that it was right for government to take its citizen before a foreign court," Mwamba said.

Former President Chiluba's acquittal has been welcomed by some who see it an example of existence of an independent judiciary.

Yet others supported Chiluba's prosecution as an example of the fight against Africa's corrupt officials.

Mwamba criticized multi-national institutions and Great Britain in particular for providing funding and technical assistance to ensure Mr. Chiluba's guilt.

"If President Chiluba was corrupt, let the facts show for themselves. But don't take him to court with a pre-determination and a pre-judged mind that he should be held as an example…the British in particular attempted to use this as an example to Africa. And I'm glad that the judiciary in Zambia has refused to be used for such an international scheme," Mwamba said.

He said former President Chiluba, who has already served two consecutive terms, has no intention to return to politics.

Mwamba said Chiluba only wants to be remembered as a former president and statesman.

Memanwhile, Zambian Information Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said the not guilty verdict proves the rule of law exists in Zambia.

"We go by the law of the land, and when the case is gone to the law of the land, we expect the case to go either way. We accept what the court ruled. We don't get surprised by the decision of a court of law. We know that evidence adduced can be seen in different manners by the court of law, and we accept what the courts of law have said," he said.

Shikapwasha said he wasn't sure if the Zambian government would appeal the court's verdict. He said that decision would be made by the country's attorney general.


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