WASHINGTON DC, 18 April 2012 – Responding to statements made this week by the Secretary General of the Patriotic Front political party Wynter Kabimba, lawyer Robert Amsterdam has stated that the ruling party’s harassment of legal counsel stands as proof of the political motivations behind the Zambian government’s allegations concerning Henry Banda.
“Based on this slew of attacks against Mr. Banda and myself unleashed by the ruling party, it is now clear beyond the shadow of a doubt that these allegations are entirely political,” said Mr. Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Peroff LLP, who represents both the former president and his son. “The reason Mr. Kabimba is attacking me is because it is the Patriotic Front who have ‘cried havoc’ and ‘let slip the dogs of war’ when they unlawfully seized many of the MMD’s vehicles, opened up absurd cases with no evidence, and put Zambia on the road back to a one-party state with the attempted de-registration of their main opponent. This is what happens when the separation of powers breaks down and the constitution is ignored.”
During a press conference held on April 17th, Kabimba denounced Henry Banda’s legal counsel as a “dog of war” and a “mercenary.” Mr. Kabimba also derided Mr. Amsterdam as “wild” and “emotionally charged,” and then ominously warned that “he ought to be extremely careful with the manner he utters statements for the sake of protecting his client.”
“It is highly irregular and prejudicial for any government official to comment on unproven allegations against a citizen, and even more so for Mr. Kabimba to do so in his capacity as the representative of the party, not the administration,” said Mr. Amsterdam. “Henry Banda has done absolutely nothing wrong, and has not been charged, tried, or even officially informed as to the nature of allegations against him, and yet the government defames him and his lawyer in the press every day. There is no rule-of-law court in the world that would consider extraditing Mr. Banda following such persecutory statements from Mr. Kabimba.”
Mr. Amsterdam has noted that the persecution of Mr. Banda is occurring in the context of nationwide crackdown on the political opposition, aimed at eliminating their ability to compete in future elections. The cases undertaken against political figures often take place outside the formal structure of the court system, said Amsterdam. “Mr. Kabimba is misinformed concerning the issue of judicial independence in Zambia. There are many independent and prestigious judges, prosecutors, and jurists in Zambia. But that’s exactly why much of what we are seeing takes place outside the judiciary, with handpicked Commissions of Inquiry led by politically biased chairpersons, who are publicly scolded if their reports do not produce the desired results,” Amsterdam said.
Amsterdam & Peroff LLP along with law firm Brian Kahn Inc of Johannesburg, South Africa represent the Former President Rupiah Banda and his son Henry Banda. The legal team is in the process of presenting appeals before the relevant international bodies to expose the unlawful conduct undertaken by the current administration against the political opposition.