A Magistrate has ruled that Zambia’s main opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, should be tried by a High Court on charges of treason.
Without specifying which particular court will sit on the case, magistrate David Simusamba ruled that “I hereby commit the accused persons forthwith to the high court for trial.”
But the United Party for National Development (UPND) leader told the press after the ruling that he was prepared to go for trial and that he was being persecuted because of hatred.
We have always been ready for trial. I am in court because of hatred. We need a dedicated judge to deal with our matter expeditiously.
“We have always been ready for trial. I am in court because of hatred. We need a dedicated judge to deal with our matter expeditiously,” he said.
Zambia, a major copper producer has been in a politically tensed state following disputed elections held in August last year. The UPND have maintained that the polls were rigged in favour of President Edgar Lungu and the ruling Patriotic Front (PF). They have however failed to overturn the results through the courts.
Their leader and candidate at the time, Hichilema, an economist and businessman, was arrested in April during a police raid on his home in the capital Lusaka.
Hichilema was said to have endangered the life of the president when his motorcade refused to give way to a presidential convoy months back.
He, along with five others, were charged with three offenses: treason, disobeying lawful orders and using insulting language. The state prosecutor dropped the second charge whiles the magistrate struck out the third citing incoherent and untruthful testimonies by police officers.
His lawyers previously said the case should not proceed to a high court because the officer who issued the trial papers had no authority to do so. With the current development, a trial date would be set by high court judge.