Zambian opposition leader's lawyers ask court to dismiss treason case

Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:37pm GMT

By Chris Mfula

LUSAKA, April 19 (Reuters) - Lawyers for a Zambian opposition party leader accused of trying to overthrow the government asked a court on Wednesday to throw out the case, saying the state charges are vague and ambiguous.

Hakainde Hichilema, the United Party for National Development (UPND) leader, was arrested last week in a police raid on his home.

He was initially accused of treason on the grounds that he had refused to give way to President Edgar Lungu's motorcade as it passed through Mongu, a town west of the capital Lusaka.

On Tuesday, Hichilema was charged in court with plotting with other people between October 10 last year and April 8 this year to overthrow the government by unlawful means.

The arrest has raised political tension in Zambia. The Southern African country has tradionally been relatively stable but relations between the government and opposition have been fraught since last August, when Lungu's Patriotic Front (PF) party beat the UPND in a presidential election marred by violence.

The opposition says the vote was rigged but Hichilema has so far failed in his legal challenge against the result.

Defence lawyer Keith Mweemba said on Wednesday that the treason charge was defective and bad at law.

"This court has power to quash the indictment and discharge the accused," Mweemba said.   Continued...

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