Zambia's ex-President Rupiah Banda pleads not guilty

image source, AFP
image captionRupiah Banda was stripped of his immunity from prosecution earlier this month

Zambia's former President Rupiah Banda has pleaded not guilty to a charge of abuse of power during his time in office.

The charges relate to an oil deal signed with a Nigerian company, which prosecutors say was meant to benefit Mr Banda and his family.

"No my Lord, I deny the charge," Mr Banda told the court, AFP reports.

The ex-president says the charges are part of a political witch-hunt against him and his allies.

After three years in power, he lost the 2011 election to Michael Sata.

He was arrested and questioned for nearly three hours before being freed on bail on Monday.

Earlier this month the 76-year-old was stripped of presidential immunity.

Prosecutors say Mr Banda instructed his son Henry to stash away the proceeds from the oil deal, which were to be used for the benefit of his family.

Henry Banda left the country shortly after his father lost power and is wanted by Zambian police.

The new government has launched a high-profile investigation into allegations of corruption by members of Mr Banda's administration.

One former minister has been found guilty and is appealing against his conviction.

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