THE Lusaka magistrates court says it will pass judgment in the case involving former President Chiluba and two others even without submissions from the former head of State.
Making the ruling yesterday, Ndola High Court Registrar Jones Chinyama, sitting as magistrate, said he will not consider any submissions made after the stipulated time as his orders were that the defence files its submissions by April 24, 2009, while the State is expected to respond by June 22, 2009.
This is in the case in which Chiluba, Access Finance Services executive director Aaron Chungu and Lusaka businessman Faustin Kabwe are charged with theft of public funds amounting to almost $500,000.
Mr Chinyama said he would proceed with judgment set for July 20, 2009, on the assumption that Chiluba decided not to file any written submissions.
“The court will proceed on assumption that A1 (Chiluba) decided not to submit. I can’t extend the date of judgment,” he said.
When the court asked Chiluba why his written submissions had not been filed, he said he was just learning of the development.
The accused persons who appeared for mention are being represented by John Sangwa and Robert Simeza, who were not before court.
In his application, Task Force on Corruption prosecutor Mutembo Nchito submitted that the State has not received submissions in respect of Chiluba and that even the submissions for the other two accused persons were only submitted three weeks after the stipulated date.
Mr Nchito argued when the trio appeared for mention that the State did not know why the defence team was not before court.
He told the court that it would be difficult for the State to file submissions without taking into account issues raised on Chiluba.
“In the interest of justice, unless the court directs otherwise, it will be difficult for us to file submissions without taking into account issues raised on behalf of A1 (Chiluba),” he said.
Mr Nchito submitted that the State has had problems getting the defence team to observe dates set by the court and that the defence did not inform the prosecution on the delay to file submissions.
And Chiluba’s spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba said in an interview that the defendants’ lawyers have been instructed to make an urgent application seeking the court’s permission to file out of time.
He said the development was out of an administrative arrangement where Mr Sangwa specifically dealt with Chungu and Kabwe while Mr Simeza dealt with Chiluba.
[Zambia Daily Mail]