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COURT WARNS STATE IN TAYALI LIBEL CASE

By CHARLES MUSONDA

THE Lusaka Magistrates’ Court has warned the State to be serious and make progress in the case Economic Equity Party (EEP) leader Chilufya Tayali is charged with defamation of the President for accusing then President Edgar Lungu of influencing turmoil in Zambia.

Tayali was arrested in May this year and denied the charge but until yesterday trial has not yet started.

When the matter came up yesterday, a public prosecutor told Magistrate Alice Walusiku that the State was not ready to proceed because witnesses were not before court.

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The prosecutor said he had communicated with the arresting officer who told him that he had failed to trace witnesses as one of them who used to be at State House is no longer there while the other one was in custody for other offences.

But Ms. Walusiku asked the State to be serious and make progress because Tayali had already taken plea.

She said going to court is traumatizing and that if the prosecution is not ready to proceed they should make a necessary application.

Asked by the court to react to the State’s position, Tayali, who is representing himself after he was ditched by lawyer Mutembo Nchito, said he was disappointed considering the fact that there has been some time since the case was last adjourned in July this year.

He said he expected the State to be more prepared yesterday especially that the other witness who is in custody can be easily accessed and brought to court to testify.

He also applied to the court to have his computers and other items seized by the police from his office and home during investigation be given back to him.

However, Ms. Walusiku said at this moment the court cannot interfere in the police investigations and adjourned the case to October 19, 2021 for commencement of trial.

Mr. Nchito withdrew from representing Tayali citing concerns with Ms. Walusiku after she reported Mr. Nchito and other defence lawyers representing Marshlands Consortium directors in the Ultimate Insurance case to the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) for alleged professional misconduct.

The magistrate was also not happy that the defence lawyers had made several applications before superior courts which have all been declined. Some of the applications were that the case be reviewed for alleged bias.

The EEP leader was arrested for accusing Mr. Lungu of influencing turmoil in Zambia by allegedly sponsoring self-proclaimed Patriotic Front ‘national commander’ Innocent Kalimanshi to wreak havoc in the former ruling party.

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