Former Republican President Rupiah Banda has rejected all the documentary evidence tendered before senior Lusaka Magistrate Joshua Banda describing the evidence as discredited and incompetent because it lacked authenticity and fell short of the rule of best evidence.
President Banda through his lawyers Professor Patrick Mvunga, Eric Silwamba, Sakwiba Sikota, Lubinda Linyama, Makebi Zulu, Steven Lungu and Irene Kunda yesterday strongly objected to the admission of 14 documents by state witness Friday Tembo because the said documents largely lacked originality and did not meet the doctrine of document authenticity.
Some of the documents Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito who is lead prosecutor in the former President’s abuse of authority case involving the alleged buying of crude oil from Nigeria were computer generated and were not authenticated.
President Banda argued that some of the documents the state was attempting to admit to the court were outside Zambia’s jurisdiction and could not be presented to the court as evidence.
He argued that the court could only admit secondary evidence if the proposer of the document could demonstrate that he was unable to access the original documents.
He argued that all the evidence the state was attempting to submit to the court were largely based on hearsay and that the witness had completely failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he had made effort to search for the documents.
President Banda told Magistrate Banda that every document that was foreign but was to be admitted in court must be authenticated arguing that if such documents failed to meet the standard rule of authenticity; they must be excluded from forming party of the evidence.
The former president said it was shocking that while the state witness Tembo claimed that he received the computer generated documents in 2012, another state witness in the name of Akpan Ekpen had told the court that he only printed the same document in 2013.
“All the documents fall far short of the standards of this court and it is our prayer that the documents be excluded from the evidence on grounds that they lack authenticity. Some of the documents the state wish to admit to the court are photo copies while the other are computer generated. The state witness has told this court that he received the documents in 2012 but the dates on the documents show that they were only printed in 2013. The evidence and the witness are incompetent and should not be admitted in the court because they lack the glory of the rule of evidence,” president Banda argued.
President Banda argued that the fact that dates on the purported documents were different from dates tendered in court indicated that there was a possibility that the computer used to generate the said documents was lying or the witness was being less truthful.
The former president further argued that the state witness exhibited that he was casual about his attempts to search for originals to the documents stating that there was no doubt that the documents the state was seeking to produce in court were of considerable value and efforts could have been made to secure original documents.
He argued that it was clear that Mr. Tembo, the state witness ignored the services of the Attorney General in his search of the documents and deliberately went fishing in the wrong places.
In defending the admission of the documents, Nchito told Magistrate Banda that the evidence was not proof in the trial and that it was up to the court to determine the authenticity and weight of the documents the state wanted admitted to the court.Nchito complained that the defence had admonished the state on its inability to facilitate the accessing of original documents and accused the defence of knowing where the original copies were.