Zambia jails ex-minister

2012-05-23 21:54

Lusaka - A Zambian court on Wednesday sentenced former labour minister Austin Liato to two years in jail with hard labour, after he was found guilty of concealing $400 000 found buried on his farm last year.

Magistrate Arida Chulu said the court had a duty to ensure that the economy was not distorted by politicians by virtue of their positions.

"The court has a duty to mete out punishment on citizens that distort the economy," Chulu said in a courtroom packed with Liato's sympathisers.

Liato served in former president Rupiah Banda's administration, and he was suspected to have acquired the money illegally.

He was arrested in December, one month after Zambia's newly elected President Michael Sata vowed to weed out corruption.

Several high ranking politician and former ministers are facing various charges of graft, in what has been described by Sata's opponents as a political vendetta.

Liato's lawyer Nellie Mutti said they plan to appeal the sentence.

He was initially charged for receiving stolen property but the chief prosecutor changed the charge to concealing proceeds of a crime. He had been out on bail of $9 524.

Liato is the first ex-minister from Banda's government to be jailed.

Read more on:    zambia  |  southern africa  |  corruption

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