Ex-Defence Minister, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Court to give him time to scrutinize the exhibits before the court as he commences his defense.
Mwamba through his lawyers on Wednesday submitted that he was not ready to give his defense as he needed enough time to peruse through all the prosecution’s documents presented before the court.
In this matter, Mwamba pleaded not guilty to eight counts of conflict of interest, one count of money laundering and 15 counts of being in possession of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
When the matter came up yesterday for commencement of defense, the Defense team comprised of Mr. Jonas Zimba, Charles Changano, Mr Leon Lemba among others raised a preliminary issue before the court requesting it to give more time to their client to prepare for his defense.
“This court will take judicial notice that there are more than 31 exhibits in this matter and most of which are bulky. The application is anchored in the accused person’s right to trial. It has been suggested that the accused person can partially commence his Defence and then adjourn on the state where he needs to peruse the exhibits,” Lemba said.
Lemba further submitted that the accused person wants to state his defence on the basis of documentary evidence that was presented before the court to the basis of the case.
The state however did not object to the defense application to give more time to the accused person so as to peruse through the documents.
“We have heard the application by defense and we symphasize with them, we don’t have any objections for the accused’s request to adjourn the matter for him to scrutinize the exhibits,” the state submitted.
However, magistrate Sandford Ngobola in his ruling said no person has the right to check the submitted documents it is the court that has discretion to allow or not.
Read more: Court says ex-Defence Minister, Bwalya, has case to answer in alleged matter of stealing public funds
“Since the state has no objection, I will allow the application, the accused can peruse through the documents,” ruled magistrate Ngobola.
Previously, magistrate Ngobola after the state closed its prosecution’s witnesses and the evidence adduced, it found Mwamba with a case to answer and had placed him on his defense.
It is alleged in count one that Mwamba on unknown date but between December 27, 2012 and March, 31 2013 in Lusaka, being a public officer, namely, Minister of Defence, did fail to disclose interest in writing, relating to Contract No. MPC 111-12 for the supply and delivery of General Purpose Shelter Tents for Zambia Army, valued at US$ 1,220,000.00, a transaction that concerns the Ministry of Defence, a public body.
It is alleged in count two that Mwamba on unknown date but between January 1, 2013, and July 30, 2013, in Lusaka, being a public officer, namely, Minister of Defence, did fail to disclose interest in writing, relating to Contract No. MPC 024-2013 for the supply and delivery of Military Uniforms for Zambia Army, valued at US$1,208,575.00, a transaction that concerns the Ministry of Defence, a public body.
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