Former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba has been cleared of corruption charges after a six-year trial.

Magistrate Jones Chinyama said Monday that the funds Chiluba had could not be traced to government money.

Those in the courtroom broke into applause before the reading of the verdict concluded. Chiluba was in attendance with his wife.

He was accused of stealing nearly $500,000 of state money to fund an extravagant lifestyle during his decade as Zambia's first democratically elected leader.

Chiluba was president of the impoverished southern African nation from 1991 to 2001.

He had argued that he and his associates were targeted in a political witch hunt backed by the British, Zambia's former colonial rulers.