Despite a court order releasing former President Rupiah Banda’s passport and official notification to immigration authorities approving his travel to Kenya for the inauguration, today authorities acting under instructions from President Michael Sata forcefully prevented him from boarding his flight, says his international lawyer Robert Amsterdam.
Former President Banda, who is currently facing a politically charged case, arrived to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka today for his flight to Nairobi bearing both his passport and a copy of the court order, but was stopped by immigration authorities that refused to process him, says Amsterdam.
At this point, an administrative assistant to former President Banda presented the court order from the Magistrate, which clearly orders the release of the passport and the permission to travel for the period of one week, and spoke by telephone with Zambia’s Chief Immigration Officer, who said “we have received orders not to process former President Banda from an authority higher than the court,” says Amsterdam.
“Today’s incident at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka represents a complete breakdown of the rule of law in Zambia, and a further indication that former President Banda cannot expect a fair trial,” said Amsterdam. “This shameful and embarrassing conduct is the result of an authoritarian state acting under the orders of a frightened and enfeebled president who is willing to break the law, violate rights, and ignore the judicial process in order to attack his opponents.”
Amsterdam continued: “Keep in mind that former President Banda has never been convicted of any wrongdoing, recall that the accusations against him are completely suspect, and, judging by thoroughly illegal handling removal of his immunity, it appears the Patriotic Front has lost all credibility as normal democratic government. This is not a normal case, and this is not a normal government, and today’s outrageous defilement of the judicial system is yet another reminder of the destruction wrought upon Zambia’s image as a democracy.”