By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
The Economic and Financial Crimes Court has freed Former minister of tourism Ronald Chitotela in the matter where he was charged with two counts of possessing property suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Lusaka Magistrate Jennifer Bwalya discharged Mr Chitotela because he entered into a settlement agreement with the Anti-Corruption Commission for the institution not to commence criminal proceedings against him.
She said Mr Chitotela was charged with the same charges in a matter where a settlement agreement was entered into with the Commission.
Magistrate Bwalya said the immunity given to Mr Chitotela by ACC is still in force hence her decision to discharge him.”I therefore agree and find that proceeding with the matter while the said settlement undertaking remained in force would be subjecting the accused to the evils of some form of double jeopardy which the laws of Zambia frown upon, and i order that Ronald Chitotela be and hereby discharged with the charges herein and forthwith,” she said.
Magistrate Bwalya also said that the said settlement agreement which was produced by the Defence had a signature stamp of the Director General of the ACC and signature stamp of the Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate.
She said in the settlement agreement, ACC undertook a stance not to conduct criminal proceedings against Chitotela.
Magistrate Bwalya said the undertaking read that Mr Chitotela satisfied the requirement of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act and that the commission will not undertake any criminal proceedings in relation to the two counts.
She said the ACC did not dispute the content of the settlement agreement.
Magistrate Bwalya said there is no evidence before her to show that the said abiding settlement agreement was set aside through any judicial process or that it was subject to any review of the superior court.
She said based on this, she found the charges against Mr Chitotela incompetent.