TREASON accused Maxwell Mututwa was on January 26 released from prison when the State entered a nolle prosequi in his favour.
Lusaka principal resident magistrate Sharon Newa discharged Mr Mututwa, 92, after divisional prosecutions officer Mwewa Musonda told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has entered a nolle prosequi in Mututwa’s case.
The release of Mr Mututwa, who is still admitted to the University Teaching Hospital for diabetes and high blood pressure, brings the number of people charged with treason to 23.
Mututwa temporarily left his hospital bed to attend his hearing.
The former freedom fighter was charged with treason together with 22 others, contrary to section 43 (1) (c) of the Penal Code chapter 87 of the Laws of Zambia.
It is alleged that the 23 Zambian citizens, while acting with other unknown people in Lusaka, Senanga and Mongu districts, tried to procure by force the establishment of a Barotseland State in Western Province through secession from Zambia, an independent State established by law.
The offence is alleged to have been committed between October 1, 2010 and January 14, 2011.
“The DPP has entered a nolle prosequi in respect of the charges against you. So what this means is that the court shall not proceed with allegations against the accused,” Mrs Newa said.
But she warned that his release does not mean he is completely free because the DPP can reinstate the charges depending on the available evidence.
Mrs Newa said Mr Mututwa has been discharged under section 81 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) of the Laws of Zambia.
Earlier, Mr Musonda said he had received instructions from the DPP to release Mr Mututwa.
And Mr Mututwa said in an interview outside the courtroom that he was grateful to Government for releasing him. He said he was a leader of the Barotse Church and a commander or co-ordinator of the Barotse Freedom Movement (BFM) and the Linyungandambo (a political pressure group).
He said he did not know why he was brought to Lusaka and charged with treason because he never participated in agitating for the secession of Western Province and restoration of the Barotseland Agreement.
Mr Mututwa said his role in the Western Province confusion was to restore peace by encouraging dialogue between the Barotse Freedom Movement, the Linyungandambo and Government.
He said the two groups approached him for advice and he accepted to meet them on condition that they get permission from the Litunga.
He said he accepted to meet the groups because their concerns were genuine but the Litunga denied them a chance to see him.
Mr Mututwa said on January 15, 2011, he was surprised when police officers from Lusaka went to his house and asked him to follow them to Mongu Police Station.
He said he helped to restore peace when the people of Western Province wanted to rise against former President Frederick Chiluba’s government in 1996.