Former President Rupiah Banda’s son Andrew has been convicted to two years imprisonment by the Lusaka Magistrate Court for soliciting and receiving gratification from Italian businessman Antonello Locci over road contracts.
This is a matter in which Andrew Banda, 52, was charged with one count of soliciting 2 per cent gratification amounting to K171, 000 on all payments made by RDA on current and future road construction projects contrary to the law.
It is alleged that Andrew on unknown dates but between September 1, 2010 and December 31, 2011, being First secretary at the Zambian Mission in Italy and later as Deputy High Commissioner to India solicited and agreed to receive two per cent gratification on all payments made to Fratelli Locci SRI Limited by the Road Development Agency (RDA).
And in passing sentence, Lusaka chief resident magistrate Joshua Banda said the state called 9 witnesses in the matter and that he considered carefully the evidence before the court from both the prosecution team and the defence.
He said in order for the State to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt there was need to prove whether the accused was a public officer at the time and whether he solicited and received gratification from Antonello Locci.
He said the prosecution proved the case beyond reasonable doubt as there was evidence from Locci when he testified that the accused solicited and received three payments from him through his company account AB logistics Limited.
The court also heard that Andrew had threatened Mr Locci that if he did not sign the 2 per cent agreement his company would have problems in Zambia.
Magistrate Banda said it was clear that Andrew took advantage of his position as First Secretary at the Zambian Embassy in Italy and his relationship with the former President Rupiah Band to solicit for the 2 per cent gratification on all payments made to Fratelli Locci SRI Limited by the Road Development Agency (RDA).
And Andrew’s mitigation through his lawyer Milner Katolo said he was a family man and a breadwinner who was supporting many families that were dependent on him.
He said his client was a first offender and that his conduct throughout the court trial was good as he complied with the court hence the court should exercise leniency.
Mr. Katola further said Andrew deeply regrets and was remorseful about the whole transaction and that if time was to be reversed he could not have been involved in such an action.
Mr Katolo added that the court should consider the public service Andrew rendered to the country as he served the nation at a high level in Italy therefore he was on
his knees begging the court to exercise the maximum leniency.
He said the court should consider a suspended sentence or community service for Andrew in absence of the minimum sentence of 5years
. And Magistrate Banda said the accused had committed a serious offence which carries a maximum sentence of 10years but after considering the mitigation factors and general circumstances of the case, he found that a custodial sentence would act as a deterrent to other people.
Magistrate hence sentenced Andrew to 24 months imprisonment with effect from today, February 14, 2014.