Nchito hearing in secret


SUSPENDED Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP)Mutembo Nchito will be investigated over allegations of fraud and forgery without the attendance of members of the public and the press, Justice Annel Silungwe’s Tribunal has announced.

The Annel silungwe Tribinal will be held in camera to protect the witnesses from intimidation and retribution.

But the tribunal has been warned to impose rigorous and sophisticated checks to ensure that there were no bugs carried by respondents, which convey messages to newspapers that have shown the capacity to eavesdrop on confidential conversations.

“Unless such measures are taken, submissions and sessions of the tribunal will be secretively transmitted to this media house which will publish them in full,”

And Mr Nchito has been assured that he will be afforded a fair hearing when the tribunal, constituted by President Edgar Lungu, begins its investigations.

Tribunal secretary Mathew Zulu said in an interview that the deliberations would be held in camera (without members of the public and press) at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

Mr Zulu, who is Supreme Court acting registrar, said tribunal members deliberated and agreed that the sitting would not be open to the public.

“Members sat down and agreed that the deliberations will be held in camera,” he said.

He said the date for the hearing would be announced soon.

And the tribunal has assured Mr Nchito of a fair hearing when the tribunal constituted begins its works.

Speaking when she swore in members of the tribunal yesterday, Chief Justice Irene Mambilima said Mr Nchito and other people concerned will receive a fair hearing.

Mrs Justice Mambilima said she was confident that the distinguished members of the tribunal would discharge their duties in a fair and impartial manner.

Tribunal members that were sworn in were former Chief Justices Annel Silungwe, Mathew Ngulube, Ernest Sakala and registrar of the High Court Mathew Zulu as secretary of the tribunal. “I am very convinced that this team comprises some of the best and experienced legal brains in Zambia who have served at the highest level of our judicial system. I am certain that the members of this tribunal will discharge their duties in a fair and impartial manner and afford all the parties concerned a fair hearing,” she said.

Mrs Justice Mambilima said the events that led to the establishment of the tribunal were in the public domain and that its constitution by the President was in accordance with article 58 of the Constitution of Zambia.

Mrs Justice Mambilima said the judiciary was aware that in recent past, the constitutional office of the DPP had come under intensive debate and that some citizens have opted to go to court to indict Mr Nchito on various issues.

“We have also seen publications and comments both in the print media and online media on the holder of the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. There has thus been a lot of public interest and debate on the holder of the office of DPP,” he said.

President Lungu has set eight terms of reference for the tribunal to help establish facts and propose recommendations besides investigating Mr Nchito’s alleged misconduct.

Among the eight terms of reference is for the tribunal to investigate and establish how Mr Nchito took over a matter in which he was an accused person and discontinued it by entering a nolle prosequi therefore defeating the course of justice The President has also tasked the tribunal to investigate allegations that Mr Nchito repeatedly abused the authority of his office by indiscriminately entering a nolle prosequi in cases in which he allegedly had an interest in.

The cases include ; the People versus Shubert Sinkala where the DPP had not even seen the evidence from the complainant, the People versus Hakainde Hichilema; despite the DPP knowing that the Attorney General had advised him (DPP) that the State should appeal the judgment of the High Court that declared Section 67 of the Penal Code unconstitutional.

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