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Man on shortlist to become head of Interpol faces kidnap allegations

Deputy commissioner of Zambia police Mubita Nawa (Supplied)

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

25 Jun 2024

Zambia police refute claims against Mubita Nawa, calling it a ‘smear campaign’

One of the main candidates to become the next chief of Interpol has been accused of involvement in the kidnapping and attempted extortion of two Indian businessmen.

Mubita Nawa, the deputy commissioner of police in Zambia, is one of the four people shortlisted to be the next secretary general of the international police organisation, and his candidacy has been backed by African Union member states.

In letters seen by The Independent, lawyers for the two businessmen – Vinod and Uddit Sadhu – have written to Interpol alleging that Mr Nawa was "plainly unsuitable" to lead the organisation and that he "played a pivotal role in a conspiracy that led to their unlawful kidnap, detention, assault and attempted extortion” in September 2022.

Zambian police have denied what they described as the “malicious allegations” raised by the Sadhus’ lawyers.

Mr Nawa was the deputy director of the Zambian criminal investigation department (CID) when the Sadhus were allegedly ambushed by assailants posing as police officers.

The duo were "bundled into an unmarked van before being taken to a private residence in Lusaka at which they were subject to threats and coercion, before one of the captives managed to raise the alarm using a concealed mobile phone", according to the letter sent to Interpol by the UK-based Leverets Group.

The Sadhus were then allegedly transferred to a police station where they were subjected to threats and coercion by "new kidnappers, assailants and extortionists, including Mr Nawa".

The Sadhus are owners of Sun Pharmaceuticals, which was awarded approximately 117m Swiss francs (£105m) by Zambia’s supreme court for overpayment on a loan from the Development Bank of Zambia, according to The Guardian.

The company is yet to receive the payment, however, which is supposed to be the responsibility of the Zambian government.

Since the court judgment, the Sadhus have been placed “under extreme and illegal pressure” to forgo the payment by people close to the administration, “such as Mr Nawa and his associates”, the letter read.

It claimed the Sadhus have begun legal proceedings against those involved in the 2022 incident, where Mr Nawa "will be a critical witness" when the case is heard in October.

The Zambian police in a statement said the Sadhus were ”fugitives of the Zambian legal system and are subjects of an ongoing investigation”.

The Sadhus were suspects in an investigation into the commission of fraud by allegedly altering the share structure of Sun Pharmaceuticals, said Milner Muyambango, the acting inspector general of Zambian police.

He also categorically refuted the allegations against Mr Nawa, which he said were unfounded and intended to tarnish his image ahead of the Interpol secretary general elections.

"These false claims are obviously part of a calculated smear campaign,” he said.

Mr Nawa wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that he was in Lyon to interview for the job of Interpol secretary general. A decision on the role is expected to be announced imminently.

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