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Ex-Zambia President Seeking Release

January 6, 1998

LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ Former President Kenneth Kaunda told supporters at a packed courthouse Tuesday that he would defy terms of the house arrest imposed on Christmas day.

Kaunda, accused of fomenting a failed coup, said the government had barred him from political activities and meeting with reporters.

``They can’t silence me ... this is what is called civil disobedience. I am disobeying stupid laws,″ Kaunda said.

He was escorted into the High Court by about 20 police and security men. Police barred Western reporters from the court.

Patrick Mvunga, a lawyer for Kaunda, asked Judge James Mutale to order the government to put Kaunda on trial or free him.

Since his arrest under a state of emergency declared after the Oct. 28 coup attempt, Kaunda has not been charged or officially told the reason for his detention, Mvunga said.

Senior state advocate John Siame said the government was not obliged to charge or try Kaunda until its investigation was complete.

After lengthy arguments on legal technicalities, the court adjourned until Wednesday.

The coup attempt, quickly crushed by loyal troops, was mounted by mutinous soldiers who seized the state radio station and announced they had overthrown President Frederick Chiluba.

Kaunda, who was out of the country the time, has denied any link to the coup attempt.

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