Former president Rupiah Banda has asked the magistrate court to refer his matter to the High court to determine some constitutional matters.
Mr Banda told magistrate Joshua Banda that the offence he stands accused could, if at all was committed, have been commited in his official not individual capacity.
And lawyers representing Mr Banda have asked magistrate Joshua Banda to stop the PF compromised Post Newspaper from covering the court session following its Thursday’s editorial that already found Mr Banda ‘guilty’.
In its Thursday editorial headline ‘What is Rupiah Afraid of’ the Post stated: Rupiah was scared to be prosecuted because he was guilty. It’s only the guilty that are afraid. Rupiah was not innocent on matters of corruption among other subjudice remarks.
“I raise from instructions from our client. Thursday’s editorial of the Post, our client has already been convicted even before trial is commenced. Now the conviction has been done but there is no sentencing, said Patrick Mvunga.
His sentiments were further augmented by Sakwiba Sikota who said that it was clear that the Post had some hidden interest in the matter and should therefore not be allowed to cover it.
“From the tone of this editorial it is quite clear that the authors are malicious and their motive is not to give fair comments. Their personal interest in the matter can easily be discerned,” said Sikota.
He said that so far, other media houses have shown objectivity in the manner they have been reporting the matter.
“There are certain boundaries that should not be crossed and clearly the Post has gone out of its way to cross those boundaries. There is no chance that the Post will report fairly on a matter in which they have already arrived at a judgment, in which they have such personal interest towards the accused person. Ttis court should exclude certain sections of the media and the Post in particular,” said Sikota.
In response, magistrate Banda said:
“Reporters must be reminded that court proceedings must be reported fairly and accurately,” said Banda.
And the trial in the matter has now been adjourned to April 17 after Banda’s lawyers argued that the alleged offences were not committed in his personal capacity but official and therefore cannot be tried in a lower court.
“This is a constitutional matter which neither I nor my colleagues or indeed the learned Director of Public Prosecution can interpret hence the reference to the High court on what constitutes private or official capacity, said Mvunga
Sikota said the former leader had immunity to any acts done in his official capacity and therefore could not be prosecuted.
“There is no provision in the constitution that allows any party to deal directly with the immunity of the president in acts done in his official capacity,” Sikota said.