The verdict in former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba’s trial has been postponed untiltoday, in what has been described as a landmark corruption case for an African ex-head of state.
Chiluba is still popular among Zambia’s poor despite charges of stealing nearly $500,000 (about R4 million) of public funds. A tough sentence may stir political tension in Africa’s biggest copper producer.
Critics accuse African governments of failing to crack down on corruption.
Magistrate Jones Chinyama told the court he would deliver the verdict today, instead of last week Friday as expected. Chiluba denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a political campaign by opponents to ruin him.
Chiluba led Zambia for a decade, after ousting liberation hero Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia’s multiparty elections in 1991.
The former trade unionist was hailed as a democrat after helping to dismantle Kaunda’s communist single party rule, which lasted 27 years.
In the past six years, Zambia has jailed several prominent figures, including senior officials and ministers who served under Chiluba’s 10-year administration, which ended in 2001.
Chiluba’s wife, Regina, was jailed for three and half years for corruption in March.
She has appealed against the verdict to the high court, which has yet make a final decision.