Ex-Zambia president on trial for stealing Â£25m from country
The trial of the former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba on charges of stealing more than $43m (£25m) from state coffers got under way yesterday before a packed courtroom in the Zambian capital Lusaka.
Mr Chiluba, Zambia's first democratically elected president, is facing 169 counts ranging from theft, abuse of office, abuse of power to being part of a web of corruption stretching from Zambia to Britain, Belgium, South Africa, the United States and the Caribbean. He has denied all the charges.
At least four state witnesses gave evidence yesterday in the trial, which had been delayed for months and dismissed by Mr Chiluba as a political witch-hunt against him by the President, Levy Mwanawasa.
In court yesterday, Mr Chiluba, dressed in a beige collarless suit buttoned up to the neck, constantly sipped from a bottle of mineral water and occasionally read from a small blue Bible as the witnesses - a judge, two former civil servants and a civil engineer - gave evidence against him.
Ironically, it was Mr Chiluba, who retired last year, who plucked Mr Mwanawasa from political obscurity and imposed him as head of the ruling Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) against the wishes of many senior MMD officials, who either resigned from the party, defected to other parties or formed their own. Mr Chiluba had unsuccessfully tried to change the constitution to run for a third term.
Soon after taking office, after Mr Chiluba helped him win an election dismissed by the European Union as rigged, Mr Mwanawasa turned against his predecessor, accusing him of fleecing millions from state coffers during his decade-long tenure in power.
Yesterday Philip Musonda, a high court judge, and Austin Mweemba, a retired senior civil servant, explained before the magistrate, Jones Chinyama, how money had been stolen through fraudulent activities.
Mr Chiluba's lawyer, Robert Simeza, said the witnesses were unconvincing. He said that if the state had a genuine case, it should have brought "shocking witnesses" from the onset. The trial continues tomorrow, but Mr Simeza believes it will last for years.
The state also claims millions of pounds were diverted from state coffers into an account at a Zambian bank in London from where it was allegedly embezzled by Mr Chiluba for his personal use and those of his cronies. The former president claims the money in this account was used by the intelligence services to fund essential foreign operations.
A former Zambian chief justice who is alleged to have been bribed, with money from the account, to pass rulings in favour of Mr Chiluba has since quit. Xavier Chungu, a former intelligence chief, who is accused of running the account for Mr Chiluba, is being jointly charged. Mr Chiluba is also accused of paying millions of pounds to a Congolese arms dealer for equipment that was never delivered.
The case has become the cornerstone of President Mwanawasa's anti-corruption crusade, which has won accolades from European donors and President George Bush.
Mr Chiluba, a former bus conductor, became president in 1991, ending the 26-year rule of Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia's founding leader.
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 I like Corbyn, but let's face it: we don't need another white man at the head of a political party
VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
Bank Holiday Monday opening times: Are Tesco, Asda and other supermarkets open today?
Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
The nine most warmongering countries in the world revealed
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...
£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...