Friday, April 18, 2008

Sata fails to stop defamation of the President prosecution

Sata fails to stop defamation of the President prosecution
By Noel Sichalwe
Friday April 18, 2008 [04:00]

LUSAKA principal resident magistrate Charles Kafunda yesterday sanctioned the prosecution of Patriotic Front president Michael Sata and two others for defamation of President Mwanawasa. And Sata, 71, his vice-president Guy Scott, 63 and a police officer Clement Andeleki, 34 have pleaded not guilty to the charge of defaming President Mwanawasa.ation of the President prosecution

This is a matter in which Sata, Scott who is also Lusaka Central member of parliament and Andeleki have been charged with defamation of the President following the forged letter dated January 14, 2006, which Andeleki allegedly gave to Sata who in turn passed it to The Post for publication.

Sata sent the letter to The Post, purporting that President Mwanawasa ordered the arrest of PF cadres who waved at him on his way to the official opening of Parliament on January 20th, 2006.

On Wednesday, defence lawyers comprising Robert Simeza, Bonaventure Mutale, Mathew Pikiti, Edgar Lungu, Professor Patrick Mvunga, Mumba Kapumpa and Wynter Kabimba applied to stay the proceedings while awaiting the outcome of the appeal in the Supreme Court arising from the same case.

The appeal related to the refusal by then trial magistrate Edward Musona to refer the matter to the High Court to determine constitutional issues.

The defence argued that if the matter went ahead in the magistrates’ court, the Supreme Court appeal would be rendered academic.

However, the state comprising Frank Mumbuna, Anderson Simbulyani and Brian Lubinda argued that the defence should provide sufficient documents to indicate that the appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.

The state argued that what was in the Supreme Court was merely a notice of appeal that was filed on July 6, 2007 without any grounds of argument.

Passing the ruling yesterday, magistrate Kafunda said he had looked at the High Court appeal judgment by judge Charles Kajimanga and the Supreme Court appeal judgment by judge Dennis Chirwa when considering the application.

He said defence lawyers did not make reference to the cardinal point that judge Kajimanga threw away the application and ordered an express hearing of the matter before the magistrate court.

Magistrate Kafunda also noted that the court had ordered that trial could proceed in the magistrates’ court since defence lawyers did not appeal against the order for express trial.

"It is clear from the judgment that there was an express direction upon this court to proceed with the matter. I also perused through the judgment of judge Chirwa and the court has not been informed of the appeal against the express order to proceed with this case and no stay of execution was obtained that remains binding to this court. Therefore, the current criminal trial has to go ahead. Therefore, I can't grant the application because I am under express direction of the High Court to proceed," he said.

Magistrate Kafunda further said the defence's application was misleading because they failed to make full disclosure of the facts surrounding the case. He was unhappy with senior lawyers that made submissions that were against the order for express trial of the matter. He said it was regrettable that senior lawyers at the level of state counsel could make misleading submissions.
The matter was adjourned to May 23 and 27 for trial.

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