Liato money plot thickens

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Former Labour Minister Austin Liato has been acquitted
Former Labour Minister Austin Liato has been acquitted

AFTER a protracted trial, hide and seek and money buried in the ground, the proverbial jury has finally returned with a “free” decision for Mr Austin Liato.
But not only has the court declared Mr Liato a free man, it has also ordered that the K2.1 million stash he allegedly buried in his backyard be handed back to him.
The decision, however, has been received with mixed thoughts with a section of Zambians welcoming it saying “justice has been done” while others feel the former law-maker has gotten away with a slap on the wrist.
Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has led the number of concerned organisations that have spoken out on the landmark decision in Zambia’s judgment history.
It (TIZ) says it fully supports Government’s appeal against the acquittal of Mr Liato because it wants precedence to be set on the new law on forfeiture of proceeds of crime of 2010.
TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that his organisation has nothing against Mr Liato and that its main concern is the law that guided the judgement.
“We need to test the new law on the proceeds of crime,” Mr Lungu said, “…we feel that it is good to set a good precedence by taking this case all the way to the Supreme Court so that we can see its interpretation of this law.”
Mr Lungu said he feels that Lusaka High Court judge Mwiinde Siavwapa did not take into account the new laws in section 71 of the forfeiture of proceeds Act when he acquitted Mr Liato.
The forfeiture of proceeds of crime section 71 subsection (3) stipulates that the offence under subsection (1) is not predicated on proof of the commission of a serious offence or foreign serious offence.
Section 71subsection (1) states that a person who, after the commencement of this act receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of or bring into Zambia any money, or other property, that may reasonably be suspected of being proceeds of crime commits an offence and is liable upon to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.
Mr Lungu said based on this, TIZ is of a strong view that matter should not end at High Court level but should go all the way to the Supreme Court.
He also noted with interest Mr Liato’s decision to praise the judiciary on Thursday for passing the judgment in his favour.
Mr Lungu said the former law maker must remain consistent and praise the judiciary regardless of what judgement the jury returns with after the trial ends.
Mr Liato’s case, his subsequent arrest after a man-hunt and eventual partial detention, captured the imagination of many Zambians, some whom had never in their lives held nothing beyond a K1,000.
Apart from stealing the head-lines, imaginative Zambians started calling the stashed money a “cash crop” as the matter died down when it went to court.
Many Zambians will watch with interest, which way the Supreme Court rules after the High Court judgment.
This is the first time concerns have been raised regarding a case since a Lusaka businessman accused of drug dealing was freed but later re-arrested after protests in the media. Daily Mail

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Tiz,Nkandu luo,Joice Bwacha Nsamba,Chanda Kasolo luapula ps ,Benson Kapaya,Samfya police,samfya council secretery & many more in samfya are involved in corruption.The above mentioned on 1 December 2013 facilitated the installation of chief KasomaBangweulu saying the directive came from the pf government,but the royol family asked the president Mr Micheal Chilufya Sata denied that the government did not instracted anyone & The government has no right to force people to go for election of a chief.

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