Tuesday, December 6, 2022
HomeLocal NewsECL CAN BE PROBED - COF

ECL CAN BE PROBED – COF

….as Makebi says law is clear about presidential immunity

By NATION REPORTER 

Former Republican President Edgar Lungu can be investigated by law enforcement agencies for them to have prima facie evidence, Chapter One Foundation (COF) Executive Director Linda Kasonde has said.

Ms Kasonde said there must have been investigations to establish a prima facie against the former head of state.

But lawyer Makebi Zulu said the move by the Drug Enforcement Commission was illegal because immunity barred the investigative wings from conducting such activities.

Mr Zulu said the fact that DEC had instituted investigations was wrong because the law was specific that a former president cannot go through such activities.

“What I can say is that the move by DEC is illegal because Mr Lungu enjoys immunity and should not be investigated at all,” he said. 

Recently, DEC raided Mr Lungu’s bank accounts on claims that it suspects the former Head of State could be guilty of money laundering.

According to a warrant, DEC is inquiring into the former President’s accounts for the past 10 years, from January 2012 to November 2022.

A Mr Emmanuel Khondowe, a DEC officer, has been granted authority to inspect bank books for former President Lungu which the commission claims has justifiable cause to believe that the former Head of State could be guilty of money laundering.

But Ms Kasonde said previously, there was no laid down procedure for removing the immunity of a former President. However, Article 98 of the Constitution, as amended in 2016, now provides for that procedure.

She said the question was whether there was a distinction between criminal investigations and criminal proceedings and whether presidential immunity applied to both. 

Ms Kasonde said in relation to allegations that the former President was being persecuted by the authorities, Article 18 of the Constitution provided for the right to protection from the law and it enshrined the principle of the presumption of innocence. 

Ms Kasonde said it could therefore be said that the immunity referred to in Article 98 of the Constitution refers to criminal proceedings and not to criminal investigations. 

With regard to the powers of the DEC to investigate President Lungu, section 4(1) (b) of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act No. 35 of 2021 provides that one of the functions of DEC is the preventing and investigating of money laundering and related offences. 

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