Trial in the case where opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema is charged with fabrication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public failed to commence today.
This was because his lawyers applied for an adjournment when the matter came up for commencement of trial before Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda today.
Mr. Hichilema’s lawyer Sakwiba Sikota applied for an adjournment so that his team could obtain instructions from their client.
Mr. Sikota told the court that in view of the High Court ruling to refer back the matter to the magistrate court despite citing constitutional issues that are likely to arise during prosecution, the team hoped that the same shall not be used as stay for the proceedings in this matter.
He told the court that his team was not ready to proceed with trial today because they were waiting for full instructions from their client upon knowing the status of the matter.
This was despite the state prosecution team being ready to begin trial today. The prosecution team did not however object to the defence’s application.
A Ms. L.M. Phiri, who was leading the state prosecution team, stated that considering that the dates for trial were set last year in December, the adjournment should be short.
In passing ruling on the application, Magistrate Banda directed that the case comes up tomorrow for commencement of trial.
Mr. Hichilema 50, is facing one count of fabrication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to section 67 (1) (2) of the penal code and cap 87 of the laws of Zambia.
It is alleged that Mr. Hichilema on June 11, 2012 did orally publish statements in which he said the PF had signed an arrangement with militia of Sudan to train PF youths.
Mr. Hichilema was quoted as saying “Prepare for trouble, do you know what is going on in Darfur? Do you know what is going on in Abyei? Do you know what is going on there? Killings!” statements which are likely to cause fear and alarm to the public.
He was accompanied to court today by his wife Mutinta, his lawyers Sakwiba Sikota, Keith Mweemba, Martha Mushipe and other opposition political party sympathisers.