UPND central province youth chairperson Milner Mwakampwe and two Soldiers and have appeared in the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court for allegedly conspiring to kill former president Rupiah Banda and President Edger Lungu’s political advisor Kaizer Zulu.
Mwanakampwe, 35, of Kabwe’s High Ridge area, Steven Chooka, 42 and Steven Phiri from the military camp in Kabwe are facing two charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
Phiri is also facing one count of unlawful possession of eight national registration cards belonging to other persons.
According to the indictment, the trio conspired with other persons unknown to kill the former head of state and Zulu between June 30 and August 8, 2017.
When the matter came up before chief resident magistrate Kenneth Mulife today, he said he could not explain the charges to the accused persons as some of the charges on the indictment were only triable by the High Court.
At this point, public prosecutor Mwanino Godfrey Mwanino applied for bail so that the charges could be separated but one of the defense lawyers, Martha Mushipe objected to the application saying it was unfair to continue delaying the case as her clients had been in detention since August 5.
Mushipe submitted that the state had ample time to put their house in order.
And her colleague, Keith Mweemba also submitted that the state should not be allowed to continue violating the citizens’ liberties by holding the accused persons close to a month without being charged until they applied for Habeas Corpus.
Another defense counsel, Christopher Mundia, wondered why the state tourtured Mwanakampwe and the soldiers in a democratic country which was also a Christian nation.
“Phiri was tortured and left unconscious for four days. Mwanakampwe was severely tortured and dragged to the mortuary in a bid to further torment him,” said Mundia.
However, Magistrate Mulife allowed the adjournment to tomorrow so that the state could sever the charges which were triable by the High Court.
The defense then made an application for bail but the state objected to it.
Mwanino asked Magistrate Mulife if he could take time to get instructions on how to respond to the bail application but the court said there was no need for that as it was not an odd application.
The state prosecutor then asked the court if he could respond to the bail application in camera but magistrate Mulife dismissed his request saying criminal proceedings were supposed to be held in open court because of public interest.
“It is settled at law that criminal proceedings involving adults be held in open court as the public wants to know the outcome of the matter. You can respond right here,” magistrate Mulife said.
Mwanino then went on to object to the bail application saying the accused persons could interfere with the witnesses whose lives they were threatening.
But Mweemba wondered which witnesses would be interfered with as Rupiah Banda had immunity and therefore he could not testify in the matter.
Magistrate Mulife then reserved his ruling for tomorrow when the charges would be explained to the accused persons.
“I can only rule on the merits and demerits of the bail application after the charges are explained to the accused and after the take plea,” said magistrate Mulife.