State appeals against Liato acquittal

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Former Labour Minister Austin Liato has been acquitted
Former Labour Minister Austin Liato has been acquitted
THE State has appealed against the acquittal and subsequent release of K2.1 million to former Labour Minister Austin Liato after quashing his two-year jail sentence slapped on him by the magistrate’s court.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito, in his appeal notice in the Supreme Court, stated that the High Court erred in law when it held that to prove reasonable suspicion under Section 71(1), the prosecution had to show the link between the source of the money or the accused to possible criminal conduct.

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Mr Nchito also indicated that the High Court erred in law when it held that under Section 71 (2), the prosecution needed to prove that the accused had knowlegde that the source of the money was as a result of criminal conduct.

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Liato was charged with one count of being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime contrary to section 71 (1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act number 19 of 2010.

Particulars allege that Liato on November 24, 2011 did possess and conceal money at his farm in Mwembweshi, number L/ Mpamba/44, amounting to K2.1 million reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

A panel of three High Court judges, Annie Sharpe Phiri, Mwiinde Siavwapa and Chalwe M’chenga said there was no evidence suggesting any unlawful origin of the money.

Liato was acquitted for being in possession of the K 2.1 million on grounds that there was no evidence indicating the source of criminal activities.

“The DPP appeals to the Supreme Court against the order of the High Court where it set aside the conviction and quashed the sentence of Liato of the said offence.

“This appeal is against the acquittal on grounds that the High Court erred in law,” Mr Nchito said.

He said the lower court erred in law when it also held that the prosecution’s burden of proof under section 71(1) was not discharged as the State failed to adduce evidence upon which interference could be drawn that the money could reasonably be suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Mr Nchito stated that the High Court also erred in law when it constituted section 71(1) of the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act in a manner that would render it impossible to give effect to the intention of the legislature taking into account the preamble to the said Act.

Times of Zambia

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