Chiluba trial adjourned after co-accused flees

The trial of Zambia’s former president Frederick Chiluba—who is accused of stealing $41-million in state funds—was adjourned on Friday because one of his co-accused has fled the country.

Chiluba, accompanied by his wife Regina, sat in a tiny courtroom and heard that the trial was adjourned to June 1 after the state said it was still trying to arrest Atan Shansonga, a former Zambian ambassador to the United States.

“The state is still making efforts to have Shansonga arrested,” a prosecutor told the court.

Chiluba, who was president of the poor Southern African country from 1991 to 2001, has been on trial since December on various charges of corruption, abuse of office and theft of public funds.

The state has had difficulty prosecuting corruption cases, with the courts frequently acquitting the accused due to lack of evidence.

All the witnesses who have given evidence at the trial exonerated Chiluba and former intelligence chief Xavier Chungu, another co-accused who went missing two weeks ago.

The court has issued an arrest warrant for Shansonga, who is currently in Britain and has refused to return, saying he was being victimised by the Zambian government.

Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa said Shansonga will be prosecuted in Britain for money-laundering he committed in that country some years back, the state-run Zambia Daily Mail said on Friday.

“The United Kingdom wants to prosecute Shansonga. There are cases of money-laundering. So they will arrest and possibly convict him,” Mwanawasa was quoted as saying by the Zambia Daily Mail.

“He will come to Zambia as a prisoner,” Mwanawasa was further quoted by the newspaper as saying.—Sapa-AFP

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