Hichilema’s trial fails to take off

Hakainde Hichilema UPND President
Hakainde Hichilema UPND President

Trial in which UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema is charged with publication of false news today failed to take off, following complaints by the defence lawyers of being harassed by police deployed at the court premises.

This is in a case where Mr. Hichilema is charged with one count of publication of false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public contrary to Laws of Zambia.

It is alleged that Mr. Hichilema on June 11, 2012 in Lusaka, orally published statements in which he said that PF had signed an arrangement for the militia in Sudan to train PF youths.

When the matter came up for trial and PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba was called to testify, Mr. Hichilema’s lawyers raised concerns over the manner they were treated by the police deployed at the courts entrances.

Martha Mushipe, one of the UPND leader’s lawyers said they were intimidated and harassed by the police while trying to gain entry into the court premises.

Ms. Mushipe in her application to have the matter adjourned further told the court that even innocent people were harassed by the cops at the gates.

And Jack Mwiimbu told Magistrate Aridah Chulu that the conduct of the police was traumatizing and could not go ahead with the matter, saying that they were not in the right frame of mind to adequately represent Mr. Hichilema.

The lawyers stated that the actions of the state police left them disoriented, hence could not proceed with the matter and asked for an adjournment.

But the State objected to the application to have the matter adjourned saying they already have been numerous adjournments in the matter.

The prosecutors further stated that it was also difficult for the state to comment on the matter of the alleged police harassment as it was not brought to their attention.

Principal Resident Magistrate Aridah Chulu, says she had no option but to adjourn the matter as the alleged harassment of lawyers and UPND supporters was not brought to the attention of the state.

The matter has since been adjourned to MAY 15, 2014 for continued trial.

Meanwhile, there was a near punch up between the UPND and PF cadres at the courts shortly after the matter was adjourned.

This was after some suspected UPND cadres hailed unpalatable sentiments as Mr. Kabimba left the court room.

It took leaders from both parties to separate them.