Zambian court upholds treason charge against opposition leader

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Hichilema

The treason charge brought up against Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been upheld by a Lusaka court.

The court ruled that it did not have any authority to overturn the treason charges brought against the opposition leader.

Hichilema is accused of plotting to overthrow President Edgar Lungu’s government, following an incident in which his entourage refused to give way to the president’s convoy as they were headed to a joint event in the country’s western region.

“The charge of treason is only triable in the High Court. The law does not place power in the subordinate court to quash the indictment. The motion to quash the treason charge is untenable,” Magistrate Greenwell Malumani told a packed court room.

Hichilema, leader of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND), was arrested during a police raid on his home earlier this month.

Hichilema ran against Lungu in the country’s elections held in August, losing by 48 percent to Lungu’s 50 percent.

The opposition leader however claimed the election was marred by irregularities, and went ahead to file an unsuccessful suit in court.

Hichilema and five co-accused also face charges of using insulting language and disobeying the instructions of law enforcement agencies. Bail was granted to the accused and set at $2,000. It was not immediately clear when he would be released.

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