Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Former Labour minister Edith Nawakwi and two journalists from the independent Post newspaper Wednesday appeared in a Lusaka magistrate court and pleaded not guilty to a charge of defaming Zambian President Frederick Chiluba.
Nawakwi, Post editor Fred M'membe and reporter Biavan Saluseki have been charged with defamation of Chiluba in contravention to section 69 of the penal code caption 87.
Principal resident Magistrate Frank Tembo read the charge saying the trio whilst "acting together with intent to bring the President into hatred, ridicule or contempt did by print, publish a defamatory or insulting matter in the Post newspaper of July 16, 2001 to wit President Chiluba is a thief.
" All three defendants denied the charge and the trial was adjourned for 5-6 September.
In another development, scores of cadres from the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) Wednesday staged a march in Lusaka demanding the deportation of independent MP, Dipak Patel, for alleging that Chiluba had stolen four million US dollars meant for relief maize.
Patel, who is currently admitted in a private hospital in Lusaka, is among the four persons charged with defamation of Chiluba.
But the MP, who is of Asian origin, has not been formally charged.
The cadres said they would not allow a "foreigner" to insult Chiluba and incite Zambians to rise against their president.
The national secretary of MMD, Michael Sata, on Tuesday directed all party cadres to report anyone found insulting Chiluba to the police.
Sata, who is minister Without Portfolio, warned that the party would not allow anyone found insulting the head of State to go with impunity.