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Sun Apr 26 15:04:45 SAST 2015

Zambia ex-leader refuses to answer graft charges: lawyer

Sapa-AFP | 06 February, 2013 08:57
Zambia's former president Rupiah Banda. File photo

Zambia's ex-president Rupiah Banda will not appear before a government anti-graft panel which has summoned him to answer corruption charges, because he has immunity, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

The summonses form part of a wide-ranging and sweeping anti-corruption campaign launched by Banda's successor Michael Sata, mainly targeting high profile members of the former administration.

"He is not going there! For what?" one of Banda's lawyers Sakwiba Sikota declared.

Banda, who took office in 2008 but lost the 2011 election to Sata, had been ordered to appear before the anti-graft task force on Thursday.

But Sikota told AFP late Tuesday that Banda "is not going to appear before the investigations wing."

Anti-Corruption Commission chief Rosewin Wandi said even as Banda has immunity for any offences committed while he was in office, he was wanted to answer charges into "allegations of corruption and other criminal activities" in which he had been named.

Sikota insisted the former head of state was protected by presidential immunity and as such could not appear before the investigating team.

Banda "enjoys immunity under ... the constitution. It would be wrong for us to agree to a scheme that is circumventing the constitution of this land," said Sikota in a letter to Wandi.

Details of the allegations against Banda were not disclosed.

Wandi had said in a letter to the former president that "it might serve your interests to avail yourself the opportunity to provide answers to the allegations made against you without losing your immunity."

In what is said to be a drive to weed out corruption, but likely to raise political tensions, Sata's government has systematically detained or questioned the president's critics, including politicians and journalists.

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