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Court bans "The Post" newspaper from covering former president's corruption case

(MISA/IFEX) - On 28 January 2009, Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama banned "The Post" newspaper from covering former president Fredrick Chiluba's case currently before the Magistrate's court. The ban came on the heels of a story published in "The Post" on 28 January, which sought to interpret the meaning of Chiluba's intention to give an unsworn statement in court.

Magistrate Chinyama ordered "The Post" reporter Laura Hamusute to leave his court on 28 January after Chiluba's lawyer, Robert Simeza, complained about the story.

Chinyama ordered "The Post" never to cover Chiluba's case in his court because the newspaper failed to heed his earlier advice not to write in a prejudicial manner. According to "The Post" report, Magistrate Chinyama, in making the ruling, said he had read the article and agreed with Chiluba's lawyer, Simeza, that it was misleading and highly prejudicial.

Reacting to the ruling, "The Post" Managing Editor Amos Malupenga described the action by Magistrate Chinyama as "harsh". He told MISA Zambia in an interview that if the court felt that "The Post" had erred in any way, the newspaper could have been reprimanded and not banned from covering the court case.

Malupenga told MISA Zambia that the paper had since written to the Clerk of Court requesting that the newspaper appear before the Court and explain its intentions over the way the story was carried. The managing editor said "The Post" wrote the story with the intention of interpreting to the Zambian public the implications of Chiluba's intention of taking an unsworn statement. Malupenga explained that when one gives an unsworn statement in court it means that person cannot be cross examined. He said there was no malice on the part of the newspaper to take away the rights of the accused.

The former president is charged with theft of US$500,000 together with former Access Financial Services Director Faustin Kabwe and former Head of Intelligence, Aaron Chungu.

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