Lusaka high court judge Albert Wood has agreed with the assertion of Libya’s LAP Green Network that its officials would be placed in danger if they gave evidence in Zambia regarding the company’s controversial tug-of-war over a 75% stake in Zamtel, and will permit the hearing to be transferred to London, The Post Online reports. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in January 2012 the Zambian government seized control of the Zamtel, reversing the hotly-contested June 2010 sale of the telco to LAP Green, setting in motion a fierce legal battle.
In a sworn deposition, David Holliday, an advisor to LAP Green chairman Wafik Al Shater, and also the managing director of LAP Green subsidiary Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), told the judge: ‘The CEO of Zamtel at that time, Mr Hans Paulsen, a Ugandan national, arrived at Zamtel’s premises on 24 January 2012 to find that the offices were surrounded by armed police. Mr Paulsen was served with a purported notice of compulsory acquisition of the petitioner’s shares in Zamtel on behalf of the government following which he was escorted to and from his office under armed guard and told to leave the premises immediately’. He went on to add that on 9 July 2012, LAP Green’s lawyers wrote to the state requesting the security of its witnesses while in Zambia for the purposes of giving evidence, a request which was promptly denied two days later. Previously, it was alleged that the company’s officials and employees had suffered ‘intimidation tactics’ at the hands of government officials.
In his ruling, Judge Wood said that it was clear that none of the allegations against the state had been denied or challenged in anyway, adding: ‘This leads me to one conclusion: that they are true … Having found that their fear is real, I now have to determine whether this application is in accordance with the High Court Act … There is no prohibition on the receiving of evidence abroad’.