By CHARLES MUSONDA
NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili wants the High Court to determine Constitutional issues in a case he is charged with defamation of the President.
This is in a case Kambwili was taken to court by New Congress Party (NCP) president Peter Chanda for claiming that Lusaka business executive Valden Findlay was allegedly using the Presidential jet to courier drugs.
One of his lawyers Keith Mweemba made the application to refer the matter to the High Court yesterday after Lusaka Magistrate Felix Kaoma guided him to stick to issues relevant to the case in cross-examining Mr. Chanda.
Mr. Mweemba said the defence team had prepared more than six questions that the High Court must answer, adding that the said questions are anchored on provisions of the Bill of Rights.
But private prosecutor Jonas Zimba objected on grounds that the court should not be called upon to wonder about an application that is not before it, adding that the defence ought to have raised the issue in good time.
Mr. Zimba said as the record will show, yesterday was the third time Mr. Chanda was appearing in court to testify.
“If we proceed in this manner I have no doubt that we have many more years for us to conclude this matter. There is no application before you and as such cross-examination of the witness should continue,” he told Mr. Kaoma.
Another private prosecutor Emmanuel Bupe Mwansa said there are no matters that have arisen to enable Mr. Kaoma refer the case to the High Court.
State Counsel Mwansa said whatever preliminary issues Kambwili intends to raise through his lawyers should have been done earlier either before trial started or before he took plea.
He said where the court had given guidance to have the matter proceed there should not be any reference to the High Court or superior court for mere guidance.
“We oppose the intended application sought by the accused person through his lawyers. I know lawyers for the accused person are on a jumping horse but surely what they intend to do today should be refused. I am aware that this is the world of waiting but for how long are we going to wait? Things should come to an end,” Mr. Mwansa said.
In his ruling Mr. Kaoma said it was difficult to deny the defence a mere intention and that the court would not be seen to be prejudicial, after which he granted the application.
He told the defence to file their submissions accompanied by skeleton arguments by May 15, 2020 and the prosecution to file theirs on May 22, 2020.
Mr. Kaoma said he would make a ruling on May 27, 2020 and told the parties that whichever way the ruling would go, they must be ready to proceed.
By CHARLES MUSONDA