Zambian court delays separatists' treason trial
03 October 2013, 11:08
Lusaka - The trial of more than 70 Zambian separatists on
charges of treason was postponed Wednesday after the accused failed to show up
in court, state media said.
Magistrate Bernard Mwandiwa adjourned the trial at the Mongu
High Court until 10 October, according to the Zambia News and Information
A total of 72 defendants, out of 83 arrested in a recent
crackdown on secessionists, had been due to appear for the start of the
The accused, mostly from the Lozi tribe, want Barotseland
state in the country's impoverished west to secede from the copper-rich
southern African country.
A treason conviction in Zambia could carry the death
Barotseland was originally a protectorate of Britain, but
entered into a deal at the end of colonial rule in 1964 to become a province of
Under the agreement signed with independent Zambia's first
president, Kenneth Kaunda, the region was supposed to have limited self-rule,
but the Lozi say that agreement was never respected.
The issue quietened down during the 1990s.
Last year, President Michael Sata ordered the military to
clamp down on secession protests.
Sata has argued that making any concessions to the Lozi
could create a dangerous precedent in a country with more than 70 different