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Zambian Govt Feels Vindicated by London Court Ruling

The Zambian government said it has been vindicated by the guilty verdict handed down late last week by a British high court against former President Frederick Chiluba. In its ruling, the court found Chiluba guilty of stealing 46 million dollars from state coffers while serving as Zambia’s first democratically elected president from 1991 to 2001.

Emmanuel Mwamba, President Chiluba’s spokesman told VOA Mr. Chiluba has not and will not recognize the jurisdiction of the London court. Chilubga, who still lives in Zambia, was put on trial after leaving office, but declared unfit to stand trial because of ill health.

Mike Mulongoti is Zambia’s information and broadcasting minister. He toldf VOA the London court verdict proved the Zambian government’s allegations against former President Chiluba.

“I think the position of government in this matter is quite clear. We are I think for the moment satisfied with the outcome, but a comprehensive statement would be issued on the matter. For now we are taking the ruling as a vindication of the initial request by the president and the parliament of Zambia that an inquiry be made into the possibility of abuse of his office by president Chiluba,” he said.

But President Chiluba’s spokesman, Emmanuel Mwamba, told VOA Mr. Chiluba has not and will not recognize the jurisdiction of the London

“He has protested his innocence from the onset. He has always stated that he didn’t want to be taken by the Zambian to a foreign court. Usually you take people to foreign court on matters human rights abuse or offenses against humanity such as genocide. This is a simple matter or simple corruption that the matter could have been handled properly before the Zambian court because Zambia is independent. It runs its own courts, and the judiciary has to be respected in Zambia,” Mwamba said.

Mulongoti said there is no difference between the London legal system and that of Zambia’s.

“If the assets that are alleged to have been taken away illegally from Zambia are in London and elsewhere, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the Zambian going to any country and requesting a court of competent jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter because after all, the legal system in London and the legal system in Zambia are based on the English legal system. And the decision of the London court by accepted international standards can be safely registered in the registry of Zambia,” Mulongoti said.

Mulongoti denied the accusations against former President Chiluba were politically motivated.

I think the position taken by government, by going to court to establish the ownership of assets in London which were alleged to have been taken, was the right course. So whether it’s a question of vindictiveness, I don’t know how vindictive one can become when you went to court to prove whether an allegation is true or not,” Murongoti said.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Peter Smith said even though former President Chiluba made a total salary of $105,000 over his 10 years in office, he had managed to pay an exclusive tailor’s shop in Geneva $1.2 million.

But Mwambua dismissed the judge’s claims.

“It is difficult for me to go in details to rebut the allegations because in general the allegations that have been presented are false, and Dr. Chiluba has answered to all those allegations,” Mwamba said.