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Chiluba Wants Immunities Restored, Zambian Government Says Not Yet

Lawyers for former President Frederick Chiluba have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly asking Parliament to restore Chiluba's presidential immunities.

They were taken away in 2002 during the tenure of the late president Levy Mwanawasa.

The request follows Chiluba's acquittal Monday of corruption charges involving the theft of $500,000 from public funds.

Maxwell Nkole, chairman of the Task Force prosecuting corruption in former President Chiluba's government, said immunities cannot be restored because the former president still faces other corruption investigations.

"Dr. Chiluba was being tried on a crime involving half a million dollars. We even have an investigation against him where he is a participant in the loss of $20 million where he is accused of purchasing arms for the Republic of Zambia which have never been delivered… I really do not see how anybody can be asking for lifting of immunity at this point in time when in fact we have outstanding investigations against him," he said.

Nkole said former President Chiluba is also being investigated for eight and a half million dollars from Canadian suppliers which had been approved by the former president.

He also said former President Chiluba has yet to account for funds from the privatization of the Zambian Copper Mines.

Nkole said the Task Force was consulting with its lawyers on whether to appeal the former president's not guilty verdict.

"From our investigation point of view, we still have several cases outstanding where Dr. Chiluba is supposed to be queried. So the acquittal does not necessarily absorb him of responsibility for abuses. As for the case upon which he has been acquitted, we are consulting with our lawyers to see whether we can present an appeal," Nkole said.

He dismissed claims by supporters of former President Chiluba that the charges against him were politically motivated.

Nkole said his Task Force was set up to recover money that has been stolen from the Zambian people.