After failing to establish a Prima Facie case against the Lusaka Provincial Chairman of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) Adrian Bauleni in a matter where he was arrested in connection with the murder of a PF cadre Menyani Zulu in Rufunsa, the director of public Prosecution Mutembo Nchito has ordered his release.
Bauleni who served as Zambia’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo during the MMD adminsitration was arrested two weeks ago charged with the murder of Crispin Menyani Zulu, a PF cadre who was knifed to death during a local government by-election violence in Rufunsa.
Following the incident, President Michael Sata hastily threw the blame on the opposition UPND and ordered police to find the murderers.
Rights groups strongly denounced the arrests and charges, calling it politically motivated persecution of the opposition.
Initially Police blamed the murder of Mr. Zulu on other PF supporters who were transported to Rufunsa, saying the fracas was a result of the infighting that ensued as the cadres shared money, but following President Sata’s directive went they ahead to arrest five Rufunsa residents among them UPND Lusaka Province chairperson Bauleni of Lusaka.
Adrian Bauleni was arrested along with Charles Mumena, Kelvin Ngulube, Francis Washeni and Isaac Zulu.
Today UPND president Hakainde Hichilema confirmed that Bauleni was released from police custody and would not be going to court.
“The Police have decided to release Ambassador Bauleni without explaining why. They know that he was innocent from the beginning but wanted to make the public believe that the UPND was responsible for the death of Menyani when in fact not,” he said.
When the charges were announced, there was a strong public backlash, including a statement from the Coalition for the Defence of Democratic Rights, which stamped the charges as “politically motivated” and revealed that Mr. Bauleni had been receiving medical treatment at the same time of the crime, making his involvement impossible.
Mr. Hichilema said the police dropped the murder charges leveled against him and released him without any official statement explaining the reasons.
Lusaka Province police commissioner Joyce Kasosa said she could not comment on the matter because DPP Mutembo Nchito was responsible for the release of Mr. Bauleni.