A civil society organisation, Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR), says the slapping of murder charges on opposition members including UPND Lusaka Province chairman Adrian Bauleni is politically motivated.
International human rights lawyer Robert Amsterdam said in a statement that the charges slapped on Bauleni and four others for the death of a PF cadre Chrispin Menyani Zulu is an attempt to falsely prosecute political opponents.
Amsterdam said President Michael Sata is abusing his powers by applying pre-judicial pressure on the police who had earlier conceded Zulu was killed by his own colleagues in Rufunsa.
Zulu, was one of the many cadres PF ferried from Lusaka, to intimidate villagers in Rufunsa and was armed with machetes and a gun.
Below is the full statement
MICHAEL SATA’S FALSE ARRESTS OVER RUFUNSA VIOLENCE ARE POLITICALLY MOTIVATED, SAYS CDDR
The murder charges filed against five members of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) for the death of a PF cadre member in Rufunsa are without substance and politically motivated, according to the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights (CDDR).
“What we have here is yet another attempt to falsely prosecute opponents of the Patriotic Front on trumped up, fictitious charges,” said Robert Amsterdam, counsel to the CDDR. “The CDDR resolutely condemns the PF government for violating constitutionally guaranteed rights to the presumption of innocence. President Sata has abused the powers of his office to apply pre-judicial pressure on the police, making politicised statements attributing guilt to the MMD and UPND within hours of the event occurring, with no investigation or evidence of possible involvement.”
According to media reports, Mr. Crispin Menyani Zulu, a paid PF cadre member from Lusaka, was killed on 8 November in following the Rufunsa local bye-elections in full view of the police, either by other PF cadre members or by local villagers who had been terrorised by the ruling party’s political violence throughout the day. This account was confirmed by Deputy Inspector General of Police Solomon Jere in an article published by the Post Newspaper. However, Mr. Jere has since reversed his position in line with the ruling party and its state media.
Within hours of the killing, the press aide for President Michael Sata, George Chellah, released a press statement blaming the two opposition parties for the killing, and despite the fact that no investigation had been conducted, ordered the police to arrest them.
Along with several members of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), the five UPND members who have been charged have already been held in prison for more than 13 days, as it is a non-bailable offense. The CDDR has confirmed that one of the accused, Mr. Ambassador Bauleni, who is Lusaka Province Chairman of the UPND, was receiving medical treatment at a clinic at the exact time of death of Mr. Zulu, making it impossible for him to be involved in the melee that claimed the life of the victim.
“This is how it all starts, with blocked meetings, banned opposition rallies, and false prosecutions,” said Amsterdam. “Make no mistake, it is this gradual elimination of democratic rights that is putting Zambia on the road back to a one-party state.”