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Zambia high court acquits ex-president's wife on corruption charges

Zambia's Supreme Court on Monday acquitted Regina Chiluba, the wife of former Zambian president Frederick Chiluba [BBC profile], of charges that she accepted stolen property during the years of her husband's administration. The court overruled a previous decision from March that sentenced [BBC report] her to three-and-a-half years in prison on charges of receiving stolen funds. All three justices ruled that there was insufficient evidence [Lusaka Times report] to find Regina Chiluba guilty of knowingly keeping the stolen items, which included large amounts of cash, an automobile and a television set, although the court also required her to return some of the property.

Frederick Chiluba was acquitted [JURIST report] last year of charges of stealing money from the country's treasury while in office from 1991-2001. He and two Zambian businessmen faced a total of 12 counts of theft of public funds for their alleged involvement in taking $488,000 when the treasury deposited payments to two US security firms into a London bank account controlled by the Zambia Security and Intelligence Services (ZSIS). The court found insufficient evidence to convict Chiluba, but the businessmen were found guilty. Chiluba was ordered to stand trial [JURIST report] on the corruption charges in February 2008. In a separate case, Chiluba was ordered by a London court in July 2007 to pay $58 million in fines [JURIST report] to Zambia to compensate for other funds stolen during Chiluba's decade in power. The suit was brought in Britain [BBC report] by Zambian officials because Chiluba and his associates held the assets in the UK and other European countries.

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