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 2009-09-04 05:51 pm Back to NEWS
DPP should allow appeal of acquittal Sikatana

FORMER foreign affairs minister Mundia Sikatana yesterday charged that statements coming from the state over Frederick Chiluba's acquittal are unprecedented in the history of the country. In an interview, Sikatana, who is also a lawyer, said when one hears the statements coming from President Rupiah Banda, Vice-President George Kunda and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chalwe Mchenga, it was as if there should never be any appeals over such matters involving Chiluba.

He wondered what President Banda and his government were trying to protect in Chiluba.

"The interest by the state is unprecedented. The manner in which the state is reacting against the acquittal, let us see the views of the Supreme Court," Sikatana said. "When you hear the President, his Vice-President and the DPP, it is as if there should never be such appeals. All I am saying is the law allows for appeals."

Sikatana said the justice system in the country allowed for appeals up to the apex [Supreme Court].

"This matter should not raise so much hullabaloo; I believe that the DPP should allow the case to go on appeal to the Supreme Court to determine based on the judgment of the [Magistrates] court acquitting president Chiluba. In other words, I'm one of those people who wish to see the matter go up on appeal," Sikatana said. "You will agree that during a lengthy trial, a lot of evidence shown had to make people to conclude that the acquittal cannot stand."

Sikatana said those in authority should not be seen to be protecting those that held high office.

He said if the grounds for the appeal against the acquittal were weak, as claimed by Mchenga, Chiluba would still be acquitted.

"It is not for anybody outside the Judiciary to tell the nation whether or not the grounds are weak," Sikatana said.

He said the matter involving Chiluba gave the nation a guarantee of the future, where those that held high office should be prepared to undergo trial and should not be protected.

Sikatana asked President Banda and his government to stop stifling the justice system in the country.

He said President Banda should try harder because late president Levy Mwanawasa's legacy could not easily be imitated.

He said the manner in which President Banda had handled Chiluba's issue was a major departure from president Mwanawasa's legacy.

"Levy would not have tolerated stifling of justice in the country. This [President Banda's conduct over Chiluba] amounts to stifling. Those of us who seem to have contrary views should not be seen to be inimical to the interests of the state. We mean well," Sikatana said. "When you hold such a position, it is very easy to be cheated, to be carried away by the wind, which the current government should try by all means to avoid."

Sikatana revealed that he was one of those who had been invited to join the group that is seeking a judicial review in the High Court against Mchenga's withdrawal of the appeal against Chiluba.

"All the public is saying is, there is abundant evidence shown publicly... it cannot be buried alive. There was so much evidence. You go through that. What do we do to the evidence? Just bury it? It will rise from the dead," he said.

On Chiluba's calls to have his legal immunity restored, Sikatana said there was no constitutional provision which stipulated that the immunity could be restored once it was lifted.

He said he was in fact the one who raised the motion to have Chiluba's immunity lifted and did not regret the action.

"I don't know of any provision in the law that would compel Parliament that had withdrawn his immunity to restore it. I was MP [member of parliament] when it was withdrawn," said Sikatana.

(The Post)

 
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