- A London High Court Judge, Peter Smith, on Friday found the former Zambian President, Frederick Chiluba, guilty of stealing US $46 millions from the public coffers. Mr Chiluba was tried in absentia, but his assets might be frozen.
The civil suit was brought against him by Zambia’s Attorney General.
The High Court Judge describes Mr Chiluba as a man with “global reputation of being a smart and expensive dresser.”
The former Zambian President was accused of laundering public monies through two law firms in UK. Though he officially earned US $105,000 during his tenure in office, but Dr Chiluba paid US $1.2 millions to Boutique Basile in Switzerland.
The British judge said Dr Chiluba lavishly spent the money “at a time when vast majority of Zambians were struggling to live on US $1 a day and many could not afford more than one meal a day.”
But Mr Chiluba says Judge Smith’s judgment is prejudicial because it will seriously undermine the outcome of the criminal proceedings against him in the Lusaka Magistrate Court.
Mr Chiluba says the judgment has rendered the Lusaka Court’s proceedings academic. He wonders why two parallel trials be simultaneously run on the same facts and circumstances.
Dr. Chiluba, who ran Zambia for 10 years, vows to disregard the authority of the London Court for attempting to try him on matters which are purely Zambian.
He says the court lacks the jurisdiction to try him because Zambia is an independent and sovereign state endowed with the capacity to handle its own case.
Dr. Chiluba says he is guaranteed by the Zambian law to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent Zambian court. He argues that the London Court has therefore infringed on his constitutional rights.
Few years ago, Mr Chiluba express fury over the seizure of hundreds of his designer suits, shirts and shoes from a warehouse. He said the act is tantamount to bringing his underpants out to the public.
Mr Chiluba’s successor, Levy Mwanawasa, has been launching crusade on official corruption. He promised to grant a Presidential pardon to Frederick Chiluba provided he accepted corruption accusations and returned 75 percent of the stolen cash.
He has always maintained his innocence.
However, a Lusaka court last year ruled that the former President was not medically fit to stand trial.
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