Espionage charges against PC thieves

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

Zambian police have slapped espionage charges against thieves who stole computers from the country’s only cancer hospital - a charge that carries a minimum sentence of 20 years in jail.

The police said they have slapped espionage charges against the suspects because of the nature and gravity of the offence.

The thieves broke into the country’s only cancer disease hospital about two weeks ago, stealing computers, computer controlling towers and keyboards used in the diagnosis of cancer patients.

Some stolen items have so far been recovered and reinstalled in order to normalize operations at the hospital and serve lives.

The police said they have managed to recover most of the devices stolen but have failed to recover two computer keyboards and mice.

“We did not pick and charge them with theft because it is not only about stealing the computers and other equipment, it is about the lives of people (patients) which were endangered during that period and considering how critical this facility is,” said Police spokesperson Elizabeth Kanjela.

The accused appeared in a Lusaka Magistrate and were this week given bail and allowed to go home.

In Zambia, any person charged with espionage and found guilty of the offence and convicted faces imprisonment of a period not less than 20 years but not exceeding 30 years.

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