By ELIAS MBAO
Zambia spent about $14 million to prosecute its former president Frederick Chiluba on corruption charges at the London High Court, a government minister told Parliament on Friday.
London High Court judge Peter Smith in May 2007 found Mr Chiluba and seven of his associates guilty of stealing $46 million in public funds and ordered them to repay $58 million to the Zambian government, failure to which their assets would be seized.
However, a Lusaka high court judge in August this year rejected the registration of the London court judgment, sparking a national outcry.
Answering questions in parliament, justice deputy minister Todd Chilembo said the government incurred about at least $13, 833, 719 in the London Court case against Mr Chiluba, according to available records.
He proceeded to give a breakdown with the legal foreign fees at $11.5 million and the rest paying travel and other costs of the attorney general and support staff.
“Most of the travels were undertaken by the Taskforce on Corruption staff and a state advocate and most of the costs were incurred by the Task Force and were met by donor funds. In addition, the Attorney General appointed lawyers in London who did the day-to-day work,” said Mr Chilembo.
Opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) parliamentarian Watson Lumba had asked the justice minister to explain how much money the government had spent to prosecute Mr Chiluba in London and the benefit the country acquired from the case.
Mr Chilembo said that some assets had been recovered because of the London High Court prosecution.
“The benefit (of the case) to the country is that the judgment allows for execution on any properties or assets belonging to any of the defendants abroad,” said Mr Chilembo.
The Lusaka high court’s refusal to register the London ruling against Mr Chiluba – Zambia’s president between 1991 and 2001 – and his associates, raised controversy after the government declined to appeal to the Supreme Court to press for the former president and others to refund the country.