CAROLINE KALOMBE, Lusaka
UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema and five others yesterday pleaded not guilty to two counts of treason in the Lusaka High Court.
In this case, Hichilema, Hamaleka Hamuchinde, Hachinda Muleya, Laston Mulilanduba, Pretorius Haloba and Wallace Chakawa are charged with two counts of treason.
When the case came up before High Court judge Charles Chanda, the six said they understood the charges but denied committing the offence.
Hichilema and his co-accused persons are represented by 19 lawyers led by State Counsel Vincent Malambo.
Lusaka lawyer Gilbert Phiri has been excluded from representing Hichilema following his suspension by the judiciary from appearing before any court.
The State prosecution is led by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lilian Siyunyi, assisted by seven other State advocates.
Hichilema and his co-accused were immediately removed from the court following the adjournment of the case, whose hearing will continue tomorrow.
The court room was quiet as UPND party members and sympathisers sat patiently in their seats.
Flashing of party symbols, shouting slogans, unnecessary movements, and any actions that would cause commotion or disturb proceedings were not allowed, and everyone in the court room adhered to these instructions.
Particulars of the treason offence are that between April 5 and 8, 2017, in Lusaka and Mongu, Hichilema and five others, jointly, and whilst acting together with other unknown persons, did endeavour to carry out by force an enterprise to usurp the executive powers of the State in a matter of public and general nature by overt acts.
Details of the first overt act are that on April 5, 2017, Hichilema, together with others, conspired to mobilise an advance party to ensure he was to be accorded the status of President of Zambia at the Kuomboka ceremony in Mongu.
In the second overt act, particulars are that on April 8, 2017, Hichilema, and over 60 other unknown people, and being on a convoy of motor vehicles on the Mongu–Limulunga road, did obstruct the presidential motorcade, an act that was likely to cause death or grievous harm to the President, to usurp the executive powers of the State.