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Zambia's ex-first lady arrested for money laundering

By AFP

May 31, 2024 10:00 PM


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Zambia's former first lady has been arrested on money laundering charges, her lawyer said Friday, days after her husband claimed he was being targeted as part of a political vendetta.

Esther Lungu, 66, was held Thursday evening alongside her two daughters, after being quizzed for hours about properties the family holds in the capital, Lusaka, lawyer Makebi Zulu told AFP. She has now been released on bail.

"The former first lady has been arrested for being found in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime and money laundering charges," Zulu said.

He said the properties, a block of flats in Lusaka's high-end New Kasama district, were built by Lungu's husband, former president Edgar Lungu, 67.

Zambia's anti-drug agency said the one time first lady had failed to give a "reasonable explanation" of how she acquired the flats, which had a construction cost of 41 million kwacha ($1.6 million).

They were "reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime", it added.

Edgar Lungu led copper-rich Zambia from 2015 to 2021, when he lost an election to President Hakainde Hichilema, who had been a veteran opposition leader before winning the vote by a landslide.

Last year, Lungu announced he was to return to politics, with general elections scheduled for 2026. He has since complained about a shrinking democratic space in the country and what he said was a campaign of harassment against his family.

Police warned him against turning his morning jogs into political events and last week he claimed he was "practically under house arrest", which authorities denied.

The latest arrest was not Esther Lungu's first run-in with police.

Last year her house was raided on accusations she had stolen some vehicles.


AFP


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