Lower court dismisses charges against Zambian VP

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Zambian vice president Enoch Kavindele was on Tuesday discharged from a magistrate's court over charges of criminal defamation initiated by the opposition leader of the Heritage Party, Godfrey Miyanda, who vowed to pursue the case in the High Court.
Lusaka magistrate Mwamba Chanda told a subdued Kavindele as he sat in the dock in a packed courtroom that she had accepted the application from director of public prosecutions (DPP), Mukelabai Mukelabai, that a "nolle prosequi" -- meaning that the state is not willing to prosecute the case -- be entered over the case.
Chanda noted that under article 57 3(c) of the state constitution, Mukelabai, as director of public prosecutions (DPP), has powers to discontinue a case and that under clause six of article 56 of the same constitution he is not obliged to give any reasons for such an action.
"I, therefore, rule that the accused person be discharged in all respects and the nolle prosequi applied for by the director of public prosecutions be accepted by the court," Chanda said.
But in an interview outside the court, Miyanda, a retired army general and former vice president himself, told PANA that he was immediately appealing against magistrate Chanda's ruling as she had failed to consider very serious constitutional issues.
"It is unheard of for the director of public prosecutions to connive with an accused person.
Kavindele is an accused person and before entering a nolle prosequi, it would have been prudent for the DPP to talk to me," Miyanda declared.
He observed that since the matter he complained about was of a criminal nature, the DPP was supposed to have sided with him since the case is such that it is the people of Zambia who are in effect making the accusations against Kavindele.
Miyanda accused Mukelabai of giving reasons which were false to the court, adding that the court should not have dismissed the case before listening to details of the complaint.
Miyanda dragged Kavindele to court over a statement which the latter gave to the privately owned 'Monitor' newspaper to the effect that Miyanda was a coup plotter who had an insatiable appetite for power, and that he was linked to the near-fatal accident of 1992 in which Mwanawasa, then a vice president under former President Frederick Chiluba, had narrowly escaped death when his vehicle was involved in a crash.
Miyanda in his affidavit to the court had argued that the statements made against him were not only defamatory but also likely to cause alarm and fear in the nation.
"These serious allegations are not true," Miyanda stated.
Mukelabai argued that the case now being pursued by Miyanda was political and the court was not the right forum to address political issues.

22 avril 2003 11:05:00

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