More Time Given for Treason Arguments

THE prosecution team in the main Caprivi high treason trial was yesterday given another two months to complete their written closing arguments on the verdict that is to be handed down in the trial.

After a break of four months in the marathon trial, the leader of the prosecution team, Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January, told Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court at Windhoek Central Prison that the prosecution has not been able to complete its written arguments yet.

Although they have tried to have their heads of argument completed by yesterday, the scale of the work that needed to be done has become apparent only during the past four months, and they would need more time to complete their arguments, January said.

The defence lawyers involved in the trial did not oppose January’s request to be given another two months to finish the written arguments. Judge Hoff put the prosecution on terms, though, and directed that the State’s written arguments should be filed with the court by 1 August.

After that, the defence lawyers representing the 65 accused remaining in the trial, after the discharge of 44 other accused following the end of the State’s case in February 2012, will have to also complete written arguments and submit those to the court.

The defence lawyers must report back to the court about the progress they have made with their arguments on 5 September, Judge Hoff directed.

The accused pleaded not guilty to a total of 278 charges – including counts of high treason and sedition, nine counts of murder and 240 charges of attempted murder – on 15 March 2004. The charges are based on allegations that the accused had taken part in a conspiracy to secede the former Caprivi Region from Namibia through armed means between 1992 and 2002.

By 5 September most of the accused, who were arrested in the wake of surprise attacks by alleged separatists on government-related targets at Katima Mulilo on 2 August 1999, would have been in custody for more than 15 years.

Since the State closed its case in the trial, 31 of the accused have testified in their own defence while 34 have elected to remain silent in response to the accusations against them.

The prosecution presented testimony from 379 witnesses to the court in an effort to prove the charges against the accused. The transcript of the trial proceedings, which the lawyers on both sides of the case will have to work through to prepare their arguments, by now consists of more than 39 860 pages.

Source : The Namibian