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Monday, August 17, 2009

Ex-Zambia leader cleared of graft

Frederick Chiluba
Frederick Chiluba was president from 1991 to 2001

Zambian former president Frederick Chiluba has been cleared of corruption charges after a long-running trial.

He was accused of embezzling $500,000 during his 10-year presidency, but a judge ruled the funds could not be traced to government money.

The Lusaka court delivered its verdict following a six-year trial prolonged by the 63-year-old's health problems.

Mr Chiluba's immunity from prosecution was lifted in 2003 by his successor, Levy Mwanawasa, who died last year.

Mr Chiluba - who was president of the impoverished southern African nation from 1991 to 2001 - had argued that he was targeted in a political witch hunt backed by the British, Zambia's former colonial rulers.

In a separate case two years ago, the High Court in Britain found Mr Chiluba guilty of defrauding the Zambian government of tens of millions of dollars using London-based bank accounts.

Mr Chiluba has refused to accept the ruling, labelling it "racist".

His wife, Regina Chiluba, was jailed in March for receiving stolen funds while her husband was in office. She is appealing against the sentence.


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