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State opposes habeas corpus for Hichilema

PRISCILLA CHIPULU, Lusaka
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Likando Kalaluka has opposed an application by United Party for National Development (UPND) lawyers compelling the State to present party president Hakainde Hichilema to court following his detention on Tuesday.
Habeas corpus is a court order that commands an individual or a government official who has restrained another to produce the prisoner at a designated time and place so that the court can determine the legality of custody and decide whether to order the prisoner’s release.
In an affidavit in opposition of an ex parte notice of motion for writ of habeas corpus filed in the Lusaka High Court yesterday, Mpazi Mbita from the Attorney-General’s chambers said the UPND lawyers’ application had been overtaken by events because Mr Hichilema had already been charged and will soon appear in court.
Mr Mbita submitted that when police wanted to charge Mr Hichilema on Tuesday, his lawyer Jack Mwiimbu requested that the accused should only be charged in the presence of all his lawyers, most of whom were not present at the time.
“The applicant has been charged with offences of treason, disobedience to lawful orders, disobeying of statutory duty, and use of insulting language. Now produced and shown to me marked ‘MM1’ is a copy of the note book signed by the applicant showing the charges,” he submitted.
Earlier, Mr Hichilema’s lawyers asked the Lusaka High Court through an application for a habeas corpus to compel the State to present him to court following his detention on Tuesday.
One of Mr Hichilema’s lawyers, Keith Mweemba, said the arresting and continued detention of his client was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Mr Mweemba said his client had been in detention without being charged or notified of the crime committed.
He said from 21:00 hours on Monday April 10, 2017 to 12:00 hours on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, police officers stormed Mr Hichilema’s residence, allegedly damaged his property, tear-gassed his home and restricted his liberty and that of his family.
Mr Mweemba also alleged that some property was also stolen when effecting the arrest.
“In the morning of 11th April, 2017, the applicant was taken to Woodlands Police Station, and without any explanation, he was whisked to Lilayi Police College where, under police guard, he was being held incommunicado,” Mr Mweemba stated.
High Court judge Gertrude Chawatama adjourned the matter and set Tuesday, April 18, 2017 as date for ruling.

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