Ex-minister applies to court for police protection

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Former Labour Minister Edith Nawakwi has made an application in a Lusaka magistrate court, asking the state to provide her with round the clock police protection.
This follows reports that agents, include a senior official from the country's Intelligence Security Service (ISS), have been ordered to kill her, according to Nawakwi's lawyer.
Nchima Nchito, the lawyer who is representing Nawakwi, applied for her protection when she and two journalists from the independent Post newspaper appeared Thursday before Principal Resident Magistrate Frank Tembo for mention in a matter which the trio have been charged with defamation of the president.
The court is expected to rule on the application filed by Nawakwi on Friday when trial is also expected to begin.
Nawakwi, Editor Fred M'membe and Reporter Biavan Saluseki were last month charged with defamation of President Frederick Chiluba for publishing what the state said was a defamatory article alleging that Chiluba had stolen four million US dollars from the state in 1997 meant for relief maize.
Former vice president Christon Tembo, who is vice chairman of the opposition Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), this week charged that a group of seven people, led by a senior officer at the ISS, have been assigned to kill Nawakwi, who is the FDD spokesperson.
Tembo recalled that Chiluba had at a recent rally warned Nawakwi that he was capable of "hitting (her) back and hard.
" Nawakwi said that it was not a coincidence that former deputy national secretary of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) Paul Tembo was killed when he was expected to give evidence to the tribunal over the diversion of two billion kwacha by the ruling party to finance its discredited national convention.
She noted that the assassination attempts on her life have become known just as she was about to appear in court in a case alleging that Chiluba is a "thief".
"I am concerned that these threats on my life are emerging when I am due to appear in court (to offer evidence) against the State," Nawakwi said.
Meanwhile, armed policemen Wednesday attempted to search for firearms at M'membe's residence.
Ntchito, who is also M'membe's lawyer, said he had information that policemen who went to M'membe's home were looking for firearms.
The police, however, did not find M'membe and a security aide at the house refused to receive the search warrant which he said had no official stamp.
Nchito said the police action was aimed at intimidating his client.
"We find that kind of behaviour a day before we are supposed to appear in court highly suspect and an attempt to intimidate our client.
We find that kind of behaviour coming from the State to be a very shameful and totally unacceptable," the Post quoted him saying.

13 september 2001 12:15:00

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