Politics

Banda’s Lawyer Clashes with Vice President

The recent refusal of the Patriotic Front government to release former President Rupiah Banda’s passport despite a court order has led to clashes between his lawyers and government officials.

On Friday, Vice President Guy Scott gave an interview to Chipata’s Breeze FM (which was carried in part by the Post Newspaper), commenting that the government had decided to ban Banda from traveling because they are worried that he would not return to face two different trials on corruption charges that critics say are politically motivated.

“The problem that we have is that we have a chap Banda who is facing charges; we have a chap whose son is being sought by the police for the last 18 to 20 months and has not appeared in Zambia and has not answered any callout,” Dr Scott said on Breeze FM. “They have not even made his whereabouts known. Do you consider them a flight risk or not? … We will look stupid if he went off to some conference in Tanzania on smart partnership and we never saw him again. We will feel embarrassed.”

Robert Amsterdam, an international lawyer to former President Banda, fired back at Dr Scott in a press release, arguing that the PF government has no right to ignore court orders.

“Guy Scott doesn’t need any help in embarrassing Zambia – he’s doing a great job on his own by insulting diplomatic partners and garnering a reputation as one of Africa’s most incompetent governments,” says Amsterdam, who acts as international counsel to former President Banda.

“Dr. Scott’s comments are deeply ignorant on a number of levels. Firstly, no matter how the PF government ‘feels,’ it has no right to ignore court orders, and when it does, it is acting as a criminal state. Secondly, the idea that the distinguished former President Banda would ever abandon his children, family, and nation that he loves is ridiculous – it would never happen, and that is why the Lusaka High Court granted the release of his passport on multiple occasions. And thirdly, he has never been found guilty of any crime, and is fully entitled to the presumption of innocence before these trumped up charges.”

Amsterdam also challenged Dr Scott’s comment that Henry Banda had not responded to the Zambian government.

According to letters from Interpol, over a period of 16 months and despite repeated opportunities, the Zambian government refused to supply any details of charges and failed to make a legal case for extradition before the South African authorities. Following an investigation, the organisation determined that Zambia’s conduct “raised strong doubts concerning compliance with Interpol’s rules.”

“How can Guy Scott complain about Henry Banda when he can’t even decide what to accuse him of? Henry has cooperated and corresponded with the government since February 6, 2012, informing them of his location and willingness to answer any questions, so why does Guy Scott continue to lie about the most basic facts?” Amsterdam stated in his press release.

Court hearings on former President Banda’s trial resume this week.

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