Chititela asks Court to acquit him

By Staff Reporter
HOUSING and Infrastructure Development minister Ronald Chitotela has asked the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court to acquit him of allegedly concealing two properties in Makeni and Ibex Hill which are suspected to be proceeds of crime.
And Lusaka principal resident magistrate David Simusamba has deferred ruling of whether Chitotela has a case to answer or not to Thursday, July 11.
Chitotela is in the first and second count jointly charged with Gregory Chibanga and Brut Holdings Limited for concealing Lot  22183 /M situated in Ibex Hill and 148 of farm 50A situated in Makeni, properties suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The trio are also charged with Diris Mukange who is facing two counts of possession of the two properties which are reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
The accused all pleaded not guilty.
According to submissions on no case to answer filed by Chitotela’s lawyer Jonas Zimba, he stated that the  evidence given by the prosecution so far  has been so discredited that no reasonable tribunal could  convict his client even if he was to remain silent.
Zimba urged the magistrate to acquit Chitotela because no case has been made against him to require him make a defence.
The defence lawyer stated further that at the close of the prosecution’s case, the evidence laid by the more than 20 state witnesses, has not proved the charge leveled against Chitotela.
Zimba stated further that it was clear that the prosecution had been trying to hit Chitotela in their matter below the belt by manufacturing evidence.
He submitted that at no point has the prosecution shown that there was any possession of the properties herein by Chitotela and that the properties were still in the names of the previous owners.
Zimba added that the route taken by the prosecution and the investigators clearly showed that there was no guarantee of fair trial as they were investigating the matter while it was on-going in court as some of the documents presented were being printed a day before court hearing.
He said Chitotela has been prejudiced by the failure of the investigator to investigate the case.
Zimba added that from the evidence adduced by the prosecution, there was nothing pointing to how the properties were concealed and there is no contract between Chitotela and the seller.
The lawyer added that there was no where on the sale contracts were Chitotela has been said to be party to the contract to sell the house and as such cannot derive any benefit from the said contract.
Zimba stated that the arresting officer did not interview China Harbour Engineering Limited, the company that is said to have sent the money US$300,000, which money was suspected to have been used to purchase the  suspected properties.
He submitted further that the State failed to bring former Labour minister Austin Liato who was the alleged seller of the property in Ibex Hill in Lusaka  when they had an opportunity to bring him to court.
Zimba explained that by keeping away evidence of Liato, the alleged seller of the property,  it should be presumed that the evidence of the said persons would have been favourable to the accused hence, the desire by the arresting officer to exclude the said witness.
He added that the people involved in the sell of the Makeni and Ibex properties were Mary Lubinga, Diris Mukange and Liato and not Chitotela.
Meanwhile, magistrate Simusamba failed to deliver the ruling on whether Chitotela will proceed to give his defence in the matter or not because the ruling is not ready.
He is expected to deliver the ruling on Thursday.