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August 25, 2007, 17:15

Zambia has withdrawn corruption charges against the wife of ex-president Frederick Chiluba, Regina, after prosecutors failed to find witnesses to support their case at her trial, officials said today.

Chiluba’s spokesperson Emmanuel Mwamba said the state had withdrawn charges, laid in October, that Regina made purchases with state funds valued at $120 000. Authorities said the state might re-arrest Chiluba once it had firmed up its case. Prosecutors failed to produce witnesses on several occasions during a trial that started in July.

“The state has withdrawn the case against Regina Chiluba. The court restored all her assets, including her money with immediate effect,” Mwamba said. The head of the anti-corruption task force Maxwell Nkole told journalists that Regina Chiluba would be re-arrested.

“She will be re-arrested so that we can restart the matter with a new strategy. The court is being pre-emptive (by ordering restoration of assets),” Nkole was quoted as saying by the Post daily newspaper. Zambia, in a separate trial, has charged Frederick Chiluba with stealing $488 000 while in office between 1991 and 2001. The former president denies the charges and says he is the victim of a witch-hunt by President Levy Mwanawasa. – Reuters

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