LONDON, 12 April 2012 – Responding to statements made this week by officials of the Zambian Government demanding the return of Henry Banda, the son of former President Rupiah Banda, lawyer Robert Amsterdam has criticised a fundamental lack of credibility to the state’s case given its irregular and unlawful abuse of process.
“If you look at the way this matter is being handled by Zambia, you see all the hallmarks of a politically motivated farce,” said Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff LLP, who represents both the former president and his son. “Mr. Banda has never been questioned by the police about anything, while instead the state has conducted a trial by headline consisting of frequently changing accusations. The fact that Zambia has refused to describe what Mr. Banda is accused of should set off alarm bells. It is a clear sign that they lack any real case.”
The persecution of Henry Banda is ultimately aimed at pressuring the former President Rupiah Banda and the destruction of the main opposition party, said Mr. Amsterdam. The allegations have been accompanied by a broad attack on the main opposition party Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), including a shocking attempt to de-register the party. There have been repeated arrests of its officials including spokesperson Dora Siliya, and most recently a claim by the former High Commissioner to Canada Nevers Mumba that his house had been raided by state security agents.
Meanwhile Foreign Minister Given Lubinda has threatened diplomatic consequences if South Africa did not hand over Mr. Banda despite a total absence of charges. The Zambian authorities have so far failed to respond to Banda’s legal representatives request for information and clarification of the alleged charges but instead chose to attack him in the media with unsubstantiated allegations, including labelling him a fugitive, which is false. In early February, Lubinda also initiated a bitter diplomatic dispute with the Government of Kenya over unfounded accusations regarding Mr. Banda’s whereabouts.
“The conduct of the Zambian government, including the issuing of direct orders to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mutembo Nchito, to produce preferred verdicts, has violated international norms of due process, rule of law, and constitutional separation of powers,” said Amsterdam. “Mr. Banda can hardly have any reasonable expectation of a fair judicial process, much less any fair treatment in the Zambian media.”
Amsterdam & Peroff LLP along with law firm Brian Kahn Inc of Johannesburg, South Africa represent the Former President Rupiah Banda and his son Henry Banda. The legal team is in the process of presenting appeals before international bodies to expose the unlawful conduct undertaken by the current administration against the political opposition.