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Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Tuesday, 12 May 2009 18:07 UK

Zambia delays ex-leader's ruling

Frederick Chiluba
Frederick Chiluba says the British court has no jurisdiction in Zambia

Zambia's High Court has delayed a verdict in a fraud case against ex-President Frederick Chiluba.

It was expected to rule whether a two-year-old UK judgement against him could be enforced in Zambia.

In its ruling, the High Court in London ordered Mr Chiluba and 21 others to pay back more than $58m (£38m) it found was defrauded from the Zambian government.

If the High Court in Lusaka settles for the state, Zambia's government will be able to begin recovering the money.

The former president says the British court has no jurisdiction in Zambia.

Mr Chiluba - who was president from 1991 to 2002 - is already facing charges of theft and abuse of office, but denies any wrongdoing.

His wife, Regina, was jailed for three-and-a-half years in March for receiving stolen state funds.

'Racist'

The Zambian state took out the civil suit in London as some of Mr Chiluba's 21 co-accused - former business associates and government officials - are not Zambian citizens and because the case involves property and bank accounts in the UK and Europe.

The state says the UK judgment could and should be enforced in Zambia.

The High Court in London ruled in May 2007 that the former president should pay back $42m (£28m).

Justice Peter Smith said at the time Mr Chiluba was renowned as a "smart and expensive dresser", with his monogrammed shirts, tailored suits and specially made shoes with high heels.

The former bus conductor officially earned about $100,000 (£66,000) while in power but paid an exclusive boutique shop in Switzerland more than a million dollars.

Mr Chiluba has refused to accept the ruling, labelling it "racist" and arguing it had implications for Zambian sovereignty as well as setting a dangerous precedent.

He also said that Zambian laws had no provision to enforce rulings made outside the borders of the country.

The BBC's Musonda Chibamba in the capital, Lusaka, says whichever way the ruling goes it will either send a strong message that Zambia is not subject to foreign judgments or that people committing crimes in foreign countries can still face punishment in Zambia.



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SEE ALSO
Zambia seizes 'Chiluba millions'
09 May 08 |  Africa
Chiluba attacks 'racist' UK court
10 May 07 |  Africa
Zambia's Chiluba guilty of graft
04 May 07 |  Africa
Chiluba's legacy to Zambia
04 May 07 |  Africa
Country profile: Zambia
22 Jan 11 |  Country profiles


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