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 2010-11-20 05:19 pm Back to NEWS
Mwamba wrote contemptuous articles, maintains witness
Mwamba being restrained from hugging his relatives by a police officer at the Supreme Court yesterday 19.11.2010.

A witness yesterday maintained that former president Frederick Chiluba’s spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba admitted to him that he had authored the two contemptuous articles relating to the Mathew Mohan trial.

And judge Gregory Phiri yesterday reiterated his earlier warning that the media should be factual in their reporting and leave the law to the court.

This is in a matter in which Mwamba is alleged to have authored and published two contemptuous articles that circulated on the Zambian Watchdog website, which analysed Mohan and his co-accused Idris and Shabia Patel’s murder case.

During examination in-chief before Supreme Court judge Phiri, who sat as a High Court judge, Post managing editor Amos Malupenga told the court that Mwamba did not dispute having authored the two contemptuous and scandalous articles with the first anonymous article titled, “Sajid Murder — The Plot Thickens” while the second one was titled, “Mathew Mohan has his testimony damaged the Judiciary- The murder case that threatens the judiciary” but that he tried to justify what he wrote about The Post.

“As I indicated yesterday, the issue of authorship between Emmanuel and myself was not in dispute. Emmanuel didn’t dispute being the author of those articles, instead he tried to justify what he wrote about The Post … He said his reference to The Post in that article was the most innocent compared to the other things he had written or said about The Post and he was wondering why The Post was being over-sensitive this time around when, according to him, The Post didn’t react that way in the past when he had done bigger things. This is where Amos Chanda comes in …,” Malupenga testified.

He said this in response to Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) representative Eddie Mwitwa, who is amicus curiae and wanted to know if it was his, Malupenga’s, evidence that Mwamba was the author of the articles in question.

He said Mwamba told him that he was surprised that Lloyd, Zambian Watchdog editor, put the second analysis on his website when it was only meant for his information.

Malupenga said he and Mwamba had been friends since 2001. He identified and touched Mwamba in the accused dock.

Malupenga said he knew Mwamba’s voice very well because he used to speak with him almost on a daily basis until recently when he argued with him concerning the anonymous article, that is when their communication reduced.

Malupenga, however, could not recall Mwamba’s email address off hand saying he doesn’t usually communicate with him via email because they mostly speak on phone. He also said he used to communicate using his Blackberry Bold phone.

And Malupenga yesterday tendered before court his mobile phone and a letter he wrote to Mwamba where the two contemptuous articles were attached.

Malupenga further told judge Phiri that he used a dicta phone to record his conversation with Mwamba and then transferred the same onto a Compact Disk (CD) using a recording studio in Chudleigh.

He produced before court a copy of a CD containing the conversation as well as its transcript and printouts from his email box showing the anonymous article he received from Mwamba’s mailbox.

Meanwhile, judge Phiri’s warning followed an application by defence lawyer John Sangwa who expressed concern at a story published in yesterday’s Post edition under the headline ‘Chiluba’s aide confessed he wrote contemptuous articles’. Sangwa told the court that he had reviewed his notes and that there was no recollection of evidence to that effect.

He submitted that such a headline was misleading and highly prejudicial to the proceedings adding that that was the very essence as to why the court was hearing the contempt proceedings involving Mwamba.

“What we have on record are the exchanges that transpired between the witness (Malupenga) and accused person,” Sangwa said. “I do understand that the role of the media is simply to report what is happening before this court and issues of conclusions are a preserve of the court. Reading from this particular article in the eyes of any ordinary man, the accused person is already guilty. As the court has previously emphasised, contempt proceedings are about retaining the integrity of judicial proceedings and assuring people before court that they must have full confidence in this institution and that they will receive a free and fair trial as guaranteed by the constitution.”

Sangwa told judge Phiri that he was seeing all that gradually being undermined by the article in question and that he deemed it necessary to bring it to the court’s attention.

Ruling on the matter, judge Phiri said Sangwa’s observations were quite serious. He said even before the contempt proceedings were commenced, he indicated that in a matter that attracted so much attention because of its nature of seriousness there was a likelihood of sensationalism. He said he warned the media to be factual.

Judge Phiri said he agreed with Sangwa that the role of the media was to report as factually and as truthful as they should, not to make conclusions in the on-going proceedings as doing so would be prejudicial to the proceedings.

“…You are entitled to make your own headlines because you decide that but you should not go in conflict with the evidence,” judge Phiri said. “You are not trained or qualified to be adjudicators. Please leave that to the lawyers and courts. As of now, I reiterate my warning which is on record and was reported by the media: Leave the law and conclusions to us. Wait for the verdict which will come from us.”

Judge Phiri said Mwamba would remain remanded in custody and adjourned the matter to next Monday for continued hearing.

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