- A Lusaka court has finally ruled that the former Zambian President is fit to stand trial on corruption allegations.
Last year, another Zambian court ruled that Frederick Chiluba, who ruled his country for ten years, was not medically fit to stand trial.
But Magistrate Jones Chinyama was not convinced that the 64-year-old former leader is medically unfit to face prosecution for allegedly stealing US $488,000 during his tenure of office.
Mr Chiluba has had troubles with his health. Last week, he was hospitalised after he had collapsed as a result of a heart attack while at home.
The court still believes that having gone through the recent medical examination, there is no excuse that should refrain Mr Chiluba from being prosecuted for the alleged crime, which includes abuse of office.
The Lusaka court put off Mr Chiluba’s trial to allow him to travel to South Africa for medical treatment.
Few weeks back, a London High Court Judge, Peter Smith, convicted Dr. Chiluba in absentia and found him guilty of stealing US $46 millions from the public coffers. The judgment might have led to the confiscation of the former President’s assets.
The civil suit was brought against him by the Attorney General of Zambia.
Judge Smith described Mr Chiluba as a man with “global reputation of being a smart and expensive dresser.”
The conviction followed several allegations that he had laundered monies belonging to Zambians through two law firms in UK. The judge wondered how Mr Chiluba, who earned US $105,000 during his tenure in office, was able to pay US $1.2 millions to Boutique Basile in Switzerland, especially at a time when vast majority of Zambians were reeling with poverty.
However, Dr. Chiluba vehemently opposed Judge Smith’s judgment, describing it as a prejudicial action that would seriously undermine the outcome of the criminal proceedings against him in the Lusaka Magistrate Court.
Mr Chiluba said 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 rubbished the authority of the London Court for attempting to try him on matters which are purely Zambian.
He said the London court lacked jurisdiction to try him, after all, Zambia is an independent and sovereign state endowed with the capacity to handle its own case.
Chiluba refused to accept the conditional pardon offered to him by his successor Levy Mwanawasa that charges would be dropped against him provided he admitted corruption and return 75 percent of the stolen cash to the national coffers. He had maintained his innocence throughout.
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