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HH’s arrest over insulting language was lawful, without spite or ill will – State

THE state says the arrest and prosecution of UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema for use of insulting language four years ago was lawful, without spite or ill will.

The office of the Attorney General says Hichilema is therefore not entitled to the reliefs he is seeking.

This is in a matter where Hichilema has sued the state in the Lusaka High Court demanding damages for malicious prosecution on allegations that he insulted police officers who went to arrest him at his home on April 11, 2017 on the pretext that he committed treason.

He also wants an order that the police officers who conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner during his arrest and lied under oath during his prosecution be surcharged.

Hichilema is further claiming damages for malicious prosecution, including aggravated and exemplary damages in relation to the charge of use of insulting language, which he was freed of.

The complainant has cited the Attorney General as the respondent in the matter.

In his statement of claim, Hichilema stated that on April 10 around 20:30 hours, police officers, during the purported performance of their functions, wrongfully and forcefully gained access to his home without justification and a warrant.

He said brutality, looting, damage to property and spiteful conduct against him characterised the operation and that he was treated like a common criminal.

Hichilema said law enforcement officers Martin Musambachime, Arthur Shonga, Mpazi Mbita and Aubrey Hamwene who conducted the operation gave false evidence in court in relation to what transpired at his home on the material day.

He contended that he was charged with use of insulting language on April 12, 2017 which he considered malicious and unreasonable.

The UPND leader stated that on May 15, 2017, the court found him not guilty of insulting police officers and acquitted him of use of insulting language.

“The plaintiff will aver that his prosecution on the charge by the state was not only malicious and without just cause, but it also subjected him to ridicule and contempt in Zambia and internationally in view of the position he holds in society,” Hichilema stated.

He said the brutal and spiteful conduct of the police, looting, damaging and destroying his property was malicious.

Hichilema contended that his arrest by police officers without thoroughly investigating allegations that his convoy refused to give way to President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade on the Mongu-Limulunga road was unreasonable, malicious and lacked probable cause.

“The wide coverage of the plaintiff’s arrest and prosecution in local and international media during that period entailed he was viewed as a criminal and associated with being less than an upstanding citizen worthy of assuming national duty,” Hichilema stated.

“The detention of the plaintiff in inhuman and unsanitary conditions entailed a gross violation of his dignity.”

However, the state in its defence admitted that Hichilema’s claims were accurate but only to the extent that an operation was conducted by the Zambia Police Service.
It said the operation to arrest the UPND leader was without malice and was lawfully conducted as there was a reasonable and probable cause.

“The plaintiff’s statement of claim are accurate but only to the extent that the plaintiff was apprehended. The defendant shall aver that the apprehension was just and with reasonable and probable cause,” the state said.

“The charge was lawful, without any malice, as the plaintiff was tried and acquitted. The defendant shall aver that the due process of the law took its course irrespective of an acquittal.”

The state charged that that judgment in criminal proceedings has no relevance because Hichilema was treated in accordance with the due process of the law.

“Hichilema just like any other citizen who has come into conflict with the law was detained in the same available detention facilities therefore there was no gross violation of dignity,” it stated.

The state claimed that the police conducted themselves professionally during the operation and the same was not oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

“The defendant shall aver at trial that the plaintiff is not entitled to any of the claims herein. Save for the express admissions made herein, the defendant denies each and every allegation of fact in the Plaintiffs statement of claim as if the same has been specifically set out and traversed seriatim,” said the state.

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