Sat, 17 Dec 2016 09:20:26 +0000

…Judge Mwila Chitabo adjourns presidential petition indefinitely


RIOTS instigated by the UPND cadres at the High Court grounds have forced Justice Mwila Chitabo to indefinitely adjourn the presidential elections petition until the opposition party becomes civil and begin to manage its supporters on leash.

Justice Chitabo in a latter yesterday complained that a situation could not be allowed where litigants or their supporters could interrupt court operations and cause havoc and damage to property without repercussions to the case before court. “The conduct cannot be tolerated.  The physical violence demonstrated by the concerned parties could be inferred or intended to create fear, panic and intimidate the courts. The atmosphere is, therefore, presently not conducive to proceed with the petition,” Judge Chitabo said.

He explained that the cadres clad in their party regalia threw stones and caused damage to some vehicles parked within the court premises as well as some portions of the court building.

He charged that the mob practically invaded the court grounds which houses the Supreme Court building too, and could be seen running in the corridors of Judges Chambers.  Judge Chitabo has since directed that the proceedings of the petition be halted until such a time when the UPND would have total control of their unruly cadres following Thursday’s riots at the Judiciary Headquarters.

Mr Justice Chitabo charged that the riotous behaviour exhibited by hordes of UPND cadres at the High Court disturbed judiciary operations and put the lives of staff and Judges in danger stating: “Both domestic and international law require that a Judge adjudicates on disputes independently without any undue influence or other factor.”

He said this was despite previous warnings about the unruly behaviour of the UPND supporters who attended court and prior communication to both party lawyers for the opposition party and the Attorney General that the case was a chamber matter and would not be open to the public. “My directive was ignored or the petitioners failed to comply with the said directive and instead scores of the petitioners’ supporters converged at the Court premises. On a few occasions, the noise outside had the effect of interfering with the court proceedings. Upon conclusion of the arguments and submissions of the learned counsel for the parties, I adjourned the matter to 22nd December, 2016 at 10:00 hours for ruling. It was shortly thereafter that all hell broke loose,” Judge Chitabo said.

Justice Chitabo explained that business at the courts came to a virtual standstill as cadres interrupted court sessions, thereby putting the lives of staff and judges at risk as Zambia Police officers struggled to contain the situation.


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