Zamtel, LapGreen case should be heard in neutral country – Judge Wood

A Lusaka High Court has allowed the deprived owners of Zamtel to have their case heard in a nuetral country instead of Zambia where their witnesses are are intimidated by government forces.

But the PF regime wants the case to be heard in Zambia despite Lapgreen officials being removed from Zambia by force and therefore unable to give evidence in court.

LapGreen is challenging the PF regime’s decision to compulsorily acquire its 75 percent shares in Zamtel.

Lusaka High Court Judge Albert Wood, probably in a bid to cleanse himself from the cartel holding Michael Sata hostage,  granted LapGreen the application for it to tender evidence by alternative means, for trial to be heard in a neutral foreign country on grounds that its witnesses were being intimidated by the Zambian government and as such, they were scared to come to Zambia.

This is in a matter in which, LapGreen the Libyan firm that bought  Zamtel asked the court to grant it leave to adduce evidence by alternative means, for trial to be heard in a neutral foreign country or by any other means available on grounds that its witnesses could not come to Zambia as they were being intimidated.

The Libyan based firm had through an affidavit sworn by David Holiday adviser to the chairperson of LapGreen and Managing Director of Uganda Telecommunication Ltd, a subsidiary of LapGreen, cited a number of reasons why he felt the application should be allowed.

Mr Holiday said both prior to and after the purported compulsorily acquisition of its shares in Zamtel, LapGreen ‘bosses’ had been victims of a number of intimidation tactics by the government.

He told the court that on January 18, 2012, Zamtel bank accounts were blocked by the DEC and a seizure notice issued based on allegations of money laundering.

“This only leads me to one conclusion that they are true. The unchallenged evidence is that Hans Paulsen was escorted by armed police officers to and from his office. Armed police officers also came to look even after he had left for Uganda,” Mr Justice Wood said.

Mr Holiday said on January 24, 2012, government decided to compulsorily acquire the shares in Zamtel and forcibly ejected a number of its management staff.

He said former Zamtel chief executive officer, Hans Paulsen, a Ugandan national who was found at Zamtel offices was surrounded by armed police officers and was told to leave the premises immediately.

He said Mr Paulsen was a critical witness in the matter in which LapGreen has petitioned over government’s decision to acquire its 75 percent shares in Zamtel but he was unwilling to come back to testify because of fear.

But Solicitor General Musa Mwenya in opposition to the application had on January 18, 2012 asked the court not to allow the application on grounds that the company had not cited any rule to support the application.

Mr Mwenya who denied any intimidation said the blocked accounts were done on grounds of investigating money laundering against LapGreen.

He denied preventing LapGreen‘s witnesses to come and testify saying “there is no basis upon which the matter can be heard in a different jurisdiction and is in any case illegal in view of the provisions of the law.”

But in passing his ruling, Mr Justice Wood said it was clear from the affidavit by Mr Mwenya and submissions that none of the allegations by LapGreen’s witnesses have been denied or challenged in any way by the respondent.

“This only leads me to one conclusion that they are true. The unchallenged evidence is that Hans Paulsen was escorted by armed police officers to and from his office. Armed police officers also came to look even after he had left for Uganda,” Mr Justice Wood said.

He said since LapGreen was the one who wished to have evidence taken to England it was only equitable that it bears all respondents’ reasonable expenses relating to the case.

He said “the net result is that the application is allowed and the petitioner should be responsible for respondents’ reasonable expenses. The issues raised are novel.”

Share this post