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Verdict Not Surprising, Says Acquitted Zambian Journalist's Lawyer


Verdict Not Surprising, Says Acquitted Zambian Journalist's Lawyer

Verdict Not Surprising, Says Acquitted Zambian Journalist's Lawyer

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In Zambian, the editor of the independent Post newspaper, Chansa Kabwela, has been acquitted of obscenity charges.

She was charged with distributing obscene materials after she mailed photos of a woman giving birth outside a hospital during a doctors' strike earlier this year.

A Lusaka judge Monday ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against Kabwela.

Kabwela's lawyer George Chisanga said the acquittal was anticipated.

"The reasoning of the magistrate is very sound in law because the section under which the state was bringing this prosecution was not intended to criminalize innocent publications," he said.

Editor Kabwela said at the time that she mailed the photos to call attention to the impact of the doctors' strike was having.

Zambian President Rupiah Banda ordered Kabwela's arrest for circulating what he considered pornography.

Chisanga said the government might have over-reached its authority.

"I think if you speak from the standpoint of the prosecution team, yes they might have overstretched their authority…but I think it was very clear that the type of publication that they were trying to prosecute is not the type of publication that they should have prosecuted," Chisanga said.

He said he sees the acquittal of Kabwela as a victory for press freedom but also as an expression of the independence of Zambia's judiciary.

"If I am going to speak from the standpoint of freedom, yes I would agree with you that this is a victory for freedom of the press and freedom of information. But even more I think it is a very courageous decision from the bench. It assures that the bench has the good authority to decide cases independently," Chisanga said.

Chisanga said it is very unlikely the government would appeal the verdict, but if it did, he said Kabwela's defense team will be ready.

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