Wednesday 17th January 2018

Court rejects Father Bwalya’s request to transfer his defamation case to Lusaka

A KASAMA magistrate’s court yesterday turned down an application by Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) leader Frank Bwalya to have his defamation of the President case transferred from Kasama to Lusaka.

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Bwalya who is facing an additional charge of proposing violence cited the case involving the Barotse activists who had their case transferred from Mongu to Lusaka over security issues.

Bwalya contended that his life and the lives of his supporters was at risk because death threats were made against live on radio.

Putting forward three applications before principal resident magistrate Vincent Siloka, Bwalya asked the court to consider having him appear before the court on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday to allow him to fly into Kasama for his court appearances.

His second application was the one in which he asked the court to transfer his case while he raised constitutional issues in the third.

“The cases I stand charged arise from a clear instance of expressing my freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 20 of the Constitution. There are clear constitutional matters in my cases and I make this application so that the proper court with jurisdiction can determine the arising issues,” Bwalya said.

After the State said it had no objections to the first application, it objected to the second application in which Bwalya sort to have his case transferred.

The State said the law was clear on the jurisdiction in which the offence was committed and report tendered.

On the third, the state thought it would be best if the issue was addressed after the Director of Public Prosecutions had said instructions on whether to proceed with the case or not.
After hearing both parties, Mr Siloka allowed the first application but turned the other two.
Mr Siloka said there was no sufficient evidence to warrant change of venue as Bwalya’s cases differed from the case in which the Barotse activists were tried.

The magistrate said there was also no sufficient evidence that Bwalya’s life was in danger.

“I had told earlier that if you felt your life was under threat you needed to report the matter to police for protection. There is no sufficient evidence to support the application and the matter will proceed here in Kasama,” Mr Siloka said.

He also said the constitutional issues Bwalya had raised with the court to be determined by a higher court did not arise as both cases were rightly before him and adjourned the matter to March 4.

The State could not proceed with trial as prosecutors were still awaiting instructions from the DPP.

Meanwhile, Bwalya, a former Catholic priest turned politician, said he would make Kasama his focal centre to rally crowds behind his political ambitions.

Bwalya in an interview with the Press after his court appearance again made reference to President Michael Sata as an old sweet potato that cannot be bent. A statement which landed him in court in the first place.

He also accused Mr Sata of running the country like a chicken run. When asked if he would report the alleged threat alleged threats on his life to police as advised by the court, Bwalya refused. According to him, the police was an appendage of the Patriotic Front which would use the opportunity of offering protection as chance to allegedly spy on his activities.

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