Regina Chiluba acquitted, sentence overturned

Regina and her Husband ex-president Chiluba

Wife of former president Frederick Chiluba Regina has been acquitted on all five counts she was convicted by a magistrare court.

The Hcourt has therefore overturned her three-and-a-half years imprisonment.

A panel of three judges, Judge Evans Hamaundu, Catherine Makungu and Eddie Sikazwe made the ruling this morning.

They said there was no proof that her goods and cash were stolen or obtained illegally.

The High Court was almost sarcastic to the magistrate that found Regina guilty as it said, the case should have been dismissed at the no case to answer stage.

On March 2, 2010, Chief resident magistrate, Charles Kafunda, jailed Regina after he found her guilty on five counts of failing to account for properties suspected to have been stolen.

The court also ordered the forfeiture of properties, mostly on the Copperbelt, and a Toshiba television set to the State.

Regina was facing three counts of failing to account for properties involving US$188,000 suspected to have been stolen or unlawfully obtained, and one count of failing to account for a motor vehicle in her possession.

The other charges were receiving a Toshiba 61-inch colour television set suspected to have been feloniously stolen or obtained and failing to account for cash amounting to K474 million suspected to have been stolen.

Magistrate Kafunda said the whole financial arrangement of Regina’s businesses was designed to operate in a maze of accounts for purposes of disguising other money which came in her possession.

He said although Regina indicated that she was running a number of businesses involving cash, it was more important for her to have been transparent in her transactions than giving casual explanations without any proof.

The magistrate said her businesses appeared to have been a platform for transactions of trapping money laundering, acts which could cause serious injuries to the proper functions of the economy as funds from such schemes had a tendency of creating distortions in the economy.

But the wife of the former head of State appealed tot he High Court.

Her  lawyer, Robert Simeza, told the high court that the subordinate court’s conviction of his client was founded on allegations of failing to account for property.
Simeza described the trial as unfair and that the judgment was misdirected adding that Regina was subjected to injustice.
He said there should have been evidence to show that there was reason to suspect that Regina had acquired her property unlawfully.
He added that the state should have considered Regina’s status in society as regards to how she acquired the property.

The matter was being heard by a panel of three high court judges namely Judge Evans Hamaundu, Catherine Makungu and Eddie Sikazwe.

The have on three occassions failed to deliver judgment.

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