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GBM asks Financial Crimes Court to refer his matter to the High Court

By LUCY PHIRI

FORMER Defense Minister Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Court to refer his matter to the High Court for a constitutional reference.

This was after the court denied him to admit into evidence a letter he wrote to the Ministry of Defence requesting for the documents and the response from the ministry indicating to him that the letter in question cannot be traced.  

When the matter came up yesterday before Magistrate Sandford Ngobola for continued defence, Mwamba through his lawyer Mr Bonaventure Mutale State Counsel asked the court to refer the matter to the High Court.

Mr. Mutale SC wanted the magistrate to refer the matter on grounds that it rejected admission into evidence documents indicating how Mwamba engaged the Ministry of defence to avail to him original copies of the letters he wrote in which he declared interest. 

“A number of letters have been written to the prosecution, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of defence and Drug Enforcement commission (DEC) requesting for documents original copies and letters but to no avail,” Mr. Mutale submitted.

Mr. Mutale also submitted that the court has the right to refer the matter to the High court unless the request made by defense was frivolous and vexatious.

“The court made a ruling over the submission of document DD1 but the court denied. That ruling is not anchored in any principles of law or any reasoning to justify the hold. It is well settled that all judgments and decision have to be reasoned. There are a chain of rules guiding in the constitution court that deals with such ruling,” Mr. Mutale submitted.

He said the previous ruling the court made denied the accused person with a fair trial as prescription on article 18 of the constitution.

“It is in the right of that fact that we wish to escalate this application to reflect on whether the accused is entitled to a fair trial and access to document is not violated. The entitlement of the document, the superior court should be given an opportunity to reflect on the issue. Every accused person is accorded a fair trial,” he said.

However magistrate Ngobola informed the state that the letter in question was not before him and he cannot pass any ruling.

“The letter you are talking about is not before me, and it was not presented in the trial. It will be difficult to refer the letter have not seen to the constitutional court. It is dated 24 March 2024. It has never been brought, I have never commented on it how will the high court comment,” he said.

Mr. Ngobola ordered the defence to make a formal application and the state should respond that’s when he can give his ruling.

In this matter, Mwamba is charged with 24 counts of conflict of interest, money laundering, among others.

Mwamba is facing eight counts of conflict of interest, one count of money laundering and 15 counts of being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Magistrate Ngobola adjourned the matter to June 4, 2023 for ruling.

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