PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
DIRECTOR of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lillian Shawa has instructed that the case in which United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema and five others are charged with treason be committed to the High Court.
But defence lawyers have argued that the committal letter is defective as it was not issued by the DDP herself but by a mere State advocate from her office.
The defence lawyers yesterday went to court ready for commencement of a preliminary inquiry granted last week to determine the validity of the treason charge, but State lawyer Noah Mwanza informed the court that he had instructions from the DPP to commit the treason case to the High Court.
However, defence lawyer Jack Mwiimbu said his team endeavoured to prepare for the preliminary inquiry hearing and that when the prosecution team was asked if it would be ready to proceed with the inquiry, its answer was in the affirmative.
Another defence lawyer, Keith Mweemba, said there was need for the magistrate’s court to refer the matter to the High Court for a constitutional interpretation to determine whether or not the DPP has power to issue a certificate of committal when the indictment is bad at law.
“We also want the court to determine whether it’s lawful, reasonable or democratically justifiable for the State to charge the accused with treason when it’s not in tandem with Section 137 of the Criminal Procedures Code. This certificate of committal has been issued in order to gag this lower court not to proceed with the inquiry,” Mr Mweemba said.
In response, State advocate Bob Mwewa asked the court to adjourn the matter so that his team could appropriately respond to the application by the defence team, saying justice rushed is justice buried.
Magistrate David Simusamba granted the application for adjournment and set today as the date for hearing the response from the State.
Earlier, the court directed the State to surrender items that were seized from two of the accused persons.
This was after one of the lawyers representing Hichilema and five others asked the court to intervene in the matter in which a Samsung Galaxy S7 phone and two motor vehicles belonging to some accused persons have been seized by the police without a seizure notice.
Nelly Mutti told the court that police seized a Samsung Galaxy S7 belonging to one of the accused persons at Kabwata Police Station.
She said two motor vehicles registration ALZ 2710 and ALZ 2757 were seized on April 10 and 12, respectively, by the police at Woodlands Police Station.
However, State lawyer Noah Mwanza told the court that the items mentioned by the defence team were part of exhibits in the matter before court.
But delivering a ruling, magistrate Simusamba ordered the State to surrender the seized properties to the accused persons.