Zambian opposition leader moved to max security prison ahead of trial

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Zambian opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema, facing treason charges for impeding a presidential motorcade, has been moved from a Lusaka prison to a maximum security facility outside the capital, a prison source said.

Hichilema and five others who were moved with him are accused of trying to overthrow the government after a column of opposition vehicles failed to make way for President Edgar Lungu.

The case has stoked political tensions in what is regarded as one of Africa’s more stable and functional democracies following a bruising election last year.
“They arrived at Mukobeko this morning,” a source told Reuters, referring to a maximum security prison in Kabwe, north of Lusaka.

Hichilema’s lawyer Jack Mwiimbu confirmed Hichilema had been moved but said he did not know where to.
“We are not privy to where they have been taken. They were taken to the City Airport and flown to an unknown destination,” he told Reuters.

The move went against a court order specifying Hichilema should be confined to Lusaka Central prison, he added.

Home Affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo could not be reached for comment.

Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National Development, was arrested in April when police raided his home and charged him with trying to overthrow the government.



An economist and businessman widely known by his “HH” initials, Hichilema was defeated in August by Lungu in an election he denounced as fraudulent. His attempts to mount a legal challenge have been unsuccessful.