Zambian judge demands probe into attacks on lawyers

Lawyers defending opposition figures accused of treason claim harassment, attacks

Zambian judge demands probe into attacks on lawyers FILE PHOTO

By Francis Maingaila

LUSAKA, Zambia

A court in Zambia on Thursday ordered an investigation into claims that lawyers for opposition figures accused of treason have been attacked and harassed.

Vincent Malambo, a lawyer for United Party for National Development (UPND) President Hakainde Hichilema, said the defendants’ legal representatives had been harassed since taking on the case.

“One lawyer has since gone into hiding after an attack at his home last night,” Malambo told the court in capital Lusaka, referring to fellow lawyer Keith Mweemba.

“This is a serious matter that needs serious ruling and order to protect lawyers and their families.”

Hichilema was arrested at his home on April 10. He is accused with five other UPND officials of treason over an incident two days earlier when they allegedly blocked President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade as it passed through Mongu, a town 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Lusaka.

The defendants cannot be bailed while awaiting trial for treason, which is punishable by the death penalty or at least 15 years’ imprisonment.

Judge Green Malumano told police that harassing lawyers in a criminal case amounted to contempt of court.

“Those responsible should be brought before me so that they can explain why they are harassing lawyers defending political prisoners that have been accused of treason,” he said.

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