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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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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