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Last Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Zambia's Chiluba guilty of graft
Frederick Chiluba
Mr Chiluba was Zambia's president for 10 years
Zambia's ex-President Frederick Chiluba has been found guilty of stealing $46m (£23m) of public money by a UK court.

The judge said that Zambians should know that when he appeared wearing his trademark designer clothes, they were paid for with stolen money.

Mr Chiluba's spokesman told a Zambian newspaper that the ex-leader did not accept the court's jurisdiction.

Mr Chiluba was not in the London High Court but the ruling could lead to the seizure of his assets.

The civil case was brought on behalf of the Zambian attorney general.

Swiss boutique

Justice Peter Smith said Mr Chiluba had a global reputation as a "smart and expensive dresser", with his "FJT" monogram on shirts and suits and specially made shoes with high heels.

He officially earned about $100,000 while in power from 1991-2001 and yet he paid an exclusive boutique shop in Switzerland $1.2m.

This is an historic victory for the people of Zambia
Hilary Benn, UK International Development Secretary

"This was at a time when the vast majority of Zambians were struggling to live on $1 a day and many could not afford more than one meal a day," the judge said.

Two years ago, he was furious when hundreds of his designer suits, shirts and shoes were seized from a warehouse where he had stored them.

"What they have done is to bring my underpants out to the general public," Mr Chiluba told reporters.

Mr Chiluba laundered the money through two London-based law firms, the judge said.

The UK government backed the Zambian law suit and International Development Secretary Hilary Benn welcomed the court ruling.

"This is an historic victory for the people of Zambia and shows their commitment to bringing those who steal from the state to account - however powerful they are," he said.

"The money recovered can now be returned to the government of Zambia to be invested in the people's future - such as education or clean drinking water for some of the 7m Zambians living in poverty."

Unfit for trial

Before the ruling, Mr Chiluba's spokesman Emmanuel Mwamba told Zambia's The Post newspaper that local courts should handle any prosecutions.

"Dr Chiluba has refused to recognise the jurisdiction and authority of the London court. He has stated that he will not submit himself to its findings," Mr Mwamba said.

President Levy Mwanawasa
President Levy Mwanawasa has led a fight against corruption

He has always denied the allegations.

A Zambian court last year ruled that Mr Chiluba was medically unfit to stand trial on corruption charges.

Mr Chiluba, a former trade union leader, ended 31 years of one-party rule when he won the 1991 elections.

He was defeated in an attempt to change the constitution to let him seek a third term in 2001.

His handpicked successor, President Levy Mwanawasa, has been pursuing an anti-corruption drive against Mr Chiluba's former government.

Mr Mwanawasa said that he would grant a presidential pardon to Mr Chiluba if he admitted the allegations of corruption and returned 75% of the cash he allegedly stole.


SEE ALSO
Zambia's 'matrix of plunder'
09 Dec 03 |  Africa
Chiluba loses immunity appeal
19 Feb 03 |  Africa
Chiluba's legacy to Zambia
19 Dec 01 |  Africa
Country profile: Zambia
29 Nov 02 |  Country profiles

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