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Zambia’s Former President Challenges London Corruption Ruling

Former Zambian President, Frederick Chiluba has filed a petition asking a court to set aside a recent ruling against him by a British judge. The judge ordered the former president to pay back about 58 million dollars to the country’s treasury, which he is alleged to have stolen during his 10-year rule, which ended in 2001. The former says enforcing the British judges’ order would be against Zambia’s public policy, because it was delivered without first hearing from him. But the government says former President Chiluba was given the opportunity to defend himself.

Mike Mulongoti is Zambia’s minister for information. From the capital, Lusaka he tells Voice of America English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that the former president is exercising his rights.

“The government cannot react because this is a court process. A high court in Lusaka last week entered the application in the court and directed that all those who did not want the judgment registered in the Zambian court, had to go to court to advance their opposition. And that is exactly, what Dr. Chiluba has done. So after this, now, the parties would then proceed in court and advance their argument. So it’s just a normal court process,” Mulongoti said.

He denied claims by the former president stating that implementing the British judges’ order flouts Zambia’s public policy. “It was in fact the Zambian government that went to England to request that the matter be determined in the London court. So, if there were anything that public policy was supposed to prevent, it would not have been done that way,’ he said.

Mulongoti said the Zambian government did not flout any laws by pushing for the implementation of the London court ruling. “What is important for the authorities in Zambia is to register the jurisdiction. I’m sure by proceeding to the court to apply the ruling by the London court judge, they are doing what is expected of them as in going to court and securing the judgment which is in favor of the government,” he noted.

He said although there were travel restrictions imposed on the former president, provision was made for Chiluba to defend himself during his graft trial in the London court. “We realize that that would be one of the reasons that would make it difficult for him to be represented. A court was prepared in Zambia where through teleconference, all the accused were given an opportunity to make a defense in that arrangement, but they did not go there. So, to say that they were not offered the chance is not correct,” he pointed out.