High Court stops Mutembo from taking over case involving Fred M’membe and RB

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Mutembo Nhcito

Mutembo Nhcito

THE Lusaka High Court has stopped Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito from taking over the case in which former President Rupiah Banda sued Post Editor-in-Chief Fred M’membe for contempt of court.

When the case came up for ruling yesterday,  Lusaka High Court judge Chalwe Muchenga said allowing Mr Nchito to take over the case is likely to violate Mr Banda’s right to institute a private prosecution.

Judge Muchenga said Mr Banda’s right to fair trial is likely to be violated as it is inconceivable that Mr Nchito is in a position to objectively deal with the complaint against the accused persons.

He quashed the move and sent back the case to the subordinate courts for plea and  commencement of trail.

Judge Muchenga said Mr Nchito can only take over the case if it is in the public interest, adding that the takeover of a prosecution is in the public interest if it ensures that it is not abandoned or ineffectively conducted, whether through lack of means, inertia or any reasons.

He explained that the DPP also has a right to take over a prosecution in cases where the prosecution amounts to an abuse of process or may compromise national security.

“In this case, the reasons for the takeover of the prosecution are unknown, but there is uncontroverted evidence that the accused is the Director of Public Prosecutions’ business partner and is being represented by a law firm in which the Director of Public Prosecutions is a partner.

“Though there is no information of what the Director of Public Prosecutions intends to do following his takeover of the case, only two things can happen; he may either continue with the prosecution or discontinue it altogether,” Judge Muchenga said.

He said it cannot be in the public interest for him to take over the prosecution of a business partner whether for the purpose of carrying on with it or stopping it.

This is a case which was commenced through a complaint and was referred to the High Court for the determination of constitutional issues that arose following the DPP’s decision to take over its prosecution.

The circumstances surrounding the case are that in 2013, Mr Banda, the complainant appeared before the Magistrate’s court charged with the offences of abuse of authority of office.

During the course of his appearances, The Post Newspaper published an article authored by Mr M’membe labelling him as being corrupt.

Mr Banda complained against the article to one of the magistrates trying him and the magistrate ruled that since he is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, the proceedings must be reported accurately and fairly.

Despite the ruling, 19 more defamatory articles were allegedly published by the accused persons.

Courtesy of Zambia Daily Mail


3 Responses to High Court stops Mutembo from taking over case involving Fred M’membe and RB

  1. Justice must be felt to be fair even by none lawyers in Zambia!
    Surely DPP need not have been told by the court that he could not handle his friend’s case;Membe what a friend for a DPP! Zambians we must thank God that we have a better friend in Jesus!

    March 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

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