Thursday, April 11, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Banda barred from leaving Zambia
09/04/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

ZAMBIA’S former President Rupiah Banda was prevented from leaving the country to attend Tuesday’s inauguration of Kenya’s new President Uhuru Kenyatta, his lawyer said.

Banda – facing corruption charges – obtained a court order allowing his passport to be released for a week to enable him to travel.

But his international lawyer Robert Amsterdam said immigration authorities “acting under instructions from President Michael Sata forcefully prevented him from boarding his flight” at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka.

In a statement, Amsterdam added that an administrative assistant to former Banda presented the court order from the magistrate, which clearly orders the release of the passport and grants permission to travel for the period of one week.

The assistant also spoke by telephone with Zambia’s Chief Immigration Officer, who – according to the lawyer – said “we have received orders not to process former President Banda from an authority higher than the court.”

Amsterdam said the incident “represents a complete breakdown of the rule of law in Zambia, and a further indication that former President Banda cannot expect a fair trial.”

“This shameful and embarrassing conduct is the result of an authoritarian state acting under the orders of a frightened and enfeebled president who is willing to break the law, violate rights, and ignore the judicial process in order to attack his opponents,” Amsterdam continued.

Banda was charged with abuse of authority in connection with a Nigerian oil deal. Prosecutors say he misappropriated more than US$11 million during his three years in office.
The charges were made possible after Banda was stripped of immunity from prosecution.

His lawyer Amsterdam insisted Tuesday that “the accusations against him are completely suspect”, adding: “Judging by the thoroughly illegal handling of the removal of his immunity, it appears the Patriotic Front has lost all credibility as normal democratic government.

“This is not a normal case, and this is not a normal government, and today’s outrageous defilement of the judicial system is yet another reminder of the destruction wrought upon Zambia’s image as a democracy.”

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