Friday, August 21, 2009

Acquittal doesn’t mean Chiluba is innocent – Nkole

Acquittal doesn’t mean Chiluba is innocent – Nkole
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, August 21, 2009 5:07:55 PM

TASK Force on Corruption chairperson Maxwell Nkole yesterday said it does not make sense for former president Frederick Chiluba to ask for the restoration of immunity when he has several corruption cases pending against him.

But Chiluba's spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba said the former president would be making an official request to President Rupiah Banda for the disclosure and publication of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that was signed by late president Levy Mwanawasa, the Task Force on Corruption and a few donors to secure the conviction of Chiluba.

Commenting on the request by Chiluba to have his immunity restored, Nkole said it was premature for Chiluba to do so because there were several cases that were still pending against him.

He said even the acquittal of Chiluba by the magistrates court was purely based on technical considerations and that did not spell innocence on his part.

"It doesn't mean that he is innocent. The acquittal we have accepted. For us it was because of contradictions in the prosecution. We have several cases that are still outstanding with the Task Force. I have cited the arms case involving 20 million United States Dollars, for the arms that were not delivered because he was commander-in-chief," Nkole said.

"His lawyers are taking us to court that the Task Force is illegal, so these cases are on a hold. So we don't support calls for his immunity to be lifted. The privatisation of ZCCM; there are issues. I don't think logically it makes sense that someone with outstanding cases should claim that he has been cleared. Who cleared him? There are so many cases where he has not been cleared."

Nkole asked Chiluba and his friend to stop trying to block the Task Force from carrying out its mandate, by trying to prevent arrests and challenging the legality of the institution.

But Mwamba wondered why the Task Force had failed to prosecute the "so-called" high profile cases involving US $20 million in the last eight years.

He said Chiluba was prosecuted and acquitted and there was no pending criminal case involving the former president.

"The reference to the court action by Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu is a very recent matter. It's about three months old, and we are used to propaganda by the Task Force to use high sounding cases to justify their existence. This is a lie and a drawback on national resources, and will not hold anymore. The registration of the London judgment case, this is a civil matter and has no effect on Dr Chiluba's request to have his immunity returned," Mwamba said. "The resolution of the National Assembly and provision of Article 43 are very clear. Dr Chiluba's immunity was lifted to make him amenable to criminal investigations and prosecutions. To use the London judgment as reasons why the immunity should not be restored is founded in legal ignorance. The London judgment is a civil case, and even the finality of it will remain civil. So it has no sanctions."

Mwamba said Chiluba believed that the reasons advanced before the High Court against the registration of the London judgment would suffice.

He said even the "so-called" pending cases were weak and mostly fictitious and they would have already been brought up before the courts if they were serious.

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