FORMER First Lady Esther Lungu says the grabbing of her 15 semi-luxurious double storey houses by the State without proving that they were dubiously acquired, will be a violation of her rights to a fair trial as she is not facing any criminal charges.
Esther has submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Court that the the application by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to have her houses forfeited is rushed as the National Prosecutions Authority ought to establish that the properties are tainted.
In this case the DPP has requested the Court to penalise the landlady by forfeiting her 15 houses worth K41.5 million on reasons that they were acquired using illegal means.
In a notice of motion to raise preliminary issue, the former First Lady indicated that she intends to challenge the Court’s authority to determine a matter that is wrongly commenced.
In her notice of intention to raise preliminary issue Esther wants the EFCC to determine whether the matter is properly before it following its establishment by the Chief Justice under Statutory Instrument no. 5 of 2022 as a division of the High Court, contrary to Article 133(2) and (3) of the constitution as amended.
She questioned whether the matter is properly before court having been commenced by way of notice of motion contrary to the provisions of Order 6 Rule 1(6) of the High Court (Amendment) Rules of 2020 SI no. 58 of 2020.
Esther is further seeking a determination among others on whether the contentious issues ought be determined using oral evidence at trial.
In an affidavit in support of notice to raise preliminary issue Esther said the mode of instituting the action is flawed.
She said her houses are not a product of grand corruption through foreign serious offences.
Esther charged that the DPP has failed to obtain an order of the Court pertaining to the property proved to be illegally obtained, which should be forfeited.
“In the absence of such an order I verily believe that the proceedings herein violate my constitutionally guaranteed right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty as these proceedings attribute guilt with no prior conviction associated with the said properties,” said Esther.
“The exhibits which are bank statements from various banks allegedly exhibiting my bank balances, The banks have contravened the provisions of the law in relation to banker’s books and the law in relation to computer generated evidence.”
The matter comes up today for hearing of the preliminary issue.
By Mwaka Ndawa
Kalemba August 17, 2023.