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Court dismisses Liato election petition appeal

 

THE Constitutional Court has thrown out Austin Liato’s election appeal in which he was challenging the election of Kaoma Central UPND member of parliament General Sitwala Sitwala for lacking merit.

Liato, who stood on the PF ticket and lost to General Sitwala, petitioned the seat in the High Court but it was dismissed because he failed to prove the three grounds of electoral malpractices which he alleged.

Liato then appealed to the Constitutional Court against the High Court’s decision.

And Constitutional Court judge Anne Sitali, in a judgement delivered yesterday, said Liato failed to prove that General Sitwala engaged in bribery.

She said Liato did not prove that a 50-kilogramme bag of salt was given to electorates together with a K100 which three of Gen Sitwala’s witnesses shared by getting K20 each with the balance of K40 going towards the buying of beer for youths.

The judge said Liato did not adduce evidence of how many people got the salt as no one was called to testify.

Judge Sitali said the High Court judge could not be faulted when she discounted the evidence of one of the witnesses who failed to tell the court who gave them the salt in issue.

“We agree with the lower court judge that the appellant did not call any witness to confirm that they received salt and money to share. The appellant and his witnesses did not prove that the corruption was widespread and prevented the electorates from voting for a candidate of their choice,” she said.

Judge Sitali said on the totality of the evidence on record, there was no evidence that people from Kakonge ward were prevented from voting for a candidate of their choice,” she said.

On an allegation that a PF motor vehicle was damaged, judge Sitali said the High Court judge was on firm ground that Liato did not prove that the vehicle was damaged by Gen Sitwala.

She said it was on record that the witness who testified on the damaged PF vehicle did not know who damaged it.

“The lower court judge was on firm ground that the vehicle was indeed damaged but it was not known who damaged it. It’s not the duty of the trial judge to fill up the gaps because a judge is a neutral person,” judge Sitali said.

The court also dismissed the third ground in which Liato alleged that Gen Sitwala defamed him after he issued statements that the latter was going to use money for the constituency and bury it at the graveyard for ritual purposes.

Judge Sitali said Liato failed to prove that allegation, saying if it had been proved, the seat could have been nullified.

The court then dismissed the appeal with both parties to bear their own costs.

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