The Lusaka High Court has quashed the conviction by a Lower court of former Labor Minister in the MMD government Austin Liato stating that there was no evidence that the money Liato buried amounting to (K2.1bn old currency) was earned through unlawful acts.
The Court has also ordered that Liato be given back his farm and money which the state confiscated.
This is in the case where Liato appealed to the High Court over his conviction by Lusaka Principal resident Magistrate Aridah Chulu after being found guilty of being in possession of money and property alleged to be proceeds for crime contrary to section 71(1) of the forfeiture of proceeds crime act number 12 of 2012.
In passing Judgment, three High Court Judges, Judge Mwiinde Siavwapa, Judge Mchenga and Judge Sharpe Phiri stated that there was no evidence that bacause Liato buried the monies the trial court could conclude that the money was earned from unlawful acts.
The High court stated that there was a possibility that the money and property could have been legally obtained because he was paid gratuity by the National Assembly but the money he earned as gratuity was not disclosed in the lower court when judgment was being passed.
The court further stated that the evidence that the money had different tags from different banks is a strong indication that it came from various accounts adding that the court could not tell the level of economic activities on those accounts because the statements of accounts were not presented before the lower court.
The court ordered that both his money and farm be restored to him at the expiry of the period prescribed for lodging an appeal if there is no appeal against the judgment.
Meanwhile there was jubilation at the High court by Liatos relatives and sympathises immediately the judgment was passed.
And Lusaka Chief Resident Magistrate Joshua Banda yesterday jailed former Defence Minister George Mpombo to 9 months in prison with hard labour altering receipts on some hotel expenses when retiring imprest when in fact not. Magistrate Banda observed that the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mpombo committed the Acts and ruled that the former law maker be incarcerated for the offence.