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Former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba Contests Venue of His Corruption Trial


In Zambia, former president Frederick Chiluba has petitioned the African Union to intervene regarding the government’s decision to try him abroad. Mr. Chiluba is charged with stealing millions of dollars during a decade of rule that ended in 2001. The former head of state says the government’s move is contrary to the AU’s resolution and spirit, which all fifty-three members wish to promote. He decried the government’s action, saying Zambia has competent institutions to handle the accusations against him.

In his letter, Chiluba said the AU assembly that sat in Sudan early this year resolved that former African heads of state who are alleged to have committed offenses during their stay in power should be tried within their countries and not in foreign courts and jurisdiction. He also said the assembly referred the case of former president of Chad, Hissen Habri, to the AU’s sub-committee. By then the government of Chad had taken Mr. Habri before a court in Brussels in Belgium.

Chiluba said he has no assets in England, Europe or anywhere in the world that would serve as justification for the government’s suit against him. He said the suit against him in England would be injurious to the judicial system and sovereignty of Zambia.

Emmanuel Mwamba is the spokesman for the former president. Speaking to English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey, Mr. Mwamba said, “Dr. Chiluba feels that this matter can best be handled by the Zambian judiciary. There is no justification by the Zambian government to have taken this matter to a foreign court. He has sought the intervention of the AU concerning their recent action on the former president of Chad, his Excellency Hissan Habre, and the decision by the Chadian government to take him to a Belgium court in Brussels.”

Reacting to the government’s drive against corruption in the country, Mr. Mwamba said, ”Dr. Chiluba has maintained that there is no fight against corruption in Zambia. There is just the prosecution of the former head of state. No institutions have been reformed; no legal framework has been set to fight corruption. Dr. Chiluba….insists that there is no fight against corruption in Zambia. Because if there was, there should be fundamental changes that should have been done to institutions and legal framework.”