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Former Zambian President Cleared of Graft Charges

  • James Butty

FILE - Zambian President Rupiah Banda, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao after a signing ceremony for a wide range of mining, trade and cultural agreements, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Feb. 25, 2010.

FILE - Zambian President Rupiah Banda, left, toasts with Chinese President Hu Jintao after a signing ceremony for a wide range of mining, trade and cultural agreements, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Feb. 25, 2010.

Former Zambian President Rupiah Banda said he feels vindicated after a court acquitted him Monday of corruption charges.

Banda had been accused of abusing his authority and personally benefiting from a $2.5 million oil deal with Nigeria.

He was stripped of his presidential immunity. Attorney Sakwiba Sikoto said the former president knew all along that the case was politically motivated.

He added now that Banda has been acquitted, he will seek full restoration of his presidential immunity.

“I think the next logical step would be for the immunity issue to be reviewed because the whole reason given for the removal of the immunity was based on the charges that he has just been acquitted of. And, for him to have a sense of complete closure of the matter, I think that restoration of his immunity will be important,” Sikoto said.

Sikoto also highlighted the tolls the case has taken on Banda.

“He’s been carrying this burden for the last three years. In the beginning, he had all kinds of restrictions like not being able to leave the country as his passport had been taken from him,” he said.

Sikoto said the former president has always believed he was not guilty.

“Right from the beginning, he did say that this was merely a political witchhunt and that there was nothing in terms of an offense and the ruling today bears that out,” Sikoto said.

In dismissing the case, Magistrate Joshua Banda said the prosecution presented no evidence to prove Banda and his family accrued any benefit from the oil deal.

The case was brought in early 2013 during the administration of the late President Michael Sata who came to power promising to fight corruption. Sata died in 2014.

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