August 7, 2012 / 6:13 PM / 7 years ago

Zambia police charge miner over killing of Chinese supervisor

NKANDABWE, Zambia, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Zambian police have charged a coal miner with murder in connection with the killing of a Chinese supervisor during a protest over pay, a police official said on Tuesday.

Zambian miners killed the supervisor and seriously wounded another on Saturday in the dispute at the Collum coal mine, about 325 km south of Lusaka, labour minister Fackson Shamenda said earlier this week.

“We have charged one person with murder and 11 others with rioting and theft. They will appear in court tomorrow,” Southern Province police chief Fred Mutondo told Reuters.

He said the police was looking for three other men suspected of having been involved in the murder.

The Chinese embassy in Zambia has demanded that the incident be thoroughly investigated and murderers punished severely.

China also demanded that security measures should be stepped up to guarantee the safety of Chinese workers and prevent similar incidents in future.

Chinese companies have invested more than $1 billion in copper-rich Zambia but there have been tensions, with Zambian workers accusing some firms of abuses and underpaying.

Labour minister Shamenda, speaking on Sunday, said he had yet to establish the exact circumstances but he had a report that workers had been demanding pay in line with a new minimum wage introduced by Zambia in July.

Neither the arrested miners nor their trade union representatives could immediately be reached to comment.

The Collum coal mine is a private company owned by five Chinese brothers and has been in existence for 11 years.

Two years ago, Zambian police charged two Chinese supervisors at the mine with attempted murder following the shooting of 13 miners in a pay dispute. The charges were later dropped. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Anthony Barker)

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