Tourist Killers’ Appeal Fails

THE killing of German tourist Johannes Fellinger in the Khomas Hochland area west of Windhoek in July 2007 was an extreme and monstrous murder that deserved the gest possible judicial condemnation, according to Supreme Court Judge of Appeal Sylvester Mainga.

The two men found guilty of the murder of Fellinger showed a flagrant disregard for something as precious as life, Judge Mainga commented in an appeal judgement in which the Supreme Court on Friday put its stamp of approval on the conviction and sentencing of former police officer Fanuel Festus Shipanga and co-accused Paulus Kamati.

Shipanga and Kamati were correctly convicted by Acting Judge Dinnah Usiku, who presided over their trial in the Windhoek High Court, Judge Mainga found.

He also found no fault with the sentences imposed on the two men at the end of their trial in May 2011, when Shipanga and Kamati – found guilty of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, and possession of firearms and ammunition without a licence – were each sentenced to an effective 46 years’ imprisonment.

“The sentences were most appropriate under the circumstances,” Judge Mainga stated. The trial court emphasised deterrence as one of the aims of sentencing, and rightly so, he said. The crimes that the two men committed were planned, premeditated, and committed out of greed, which aggravates the seriousness of the crimes further, the judge added.

He also remarked that Shipanga and Kamati, who denied guilt throughout their trial and with their appeal to the Supreme Court, never showed remorse.

“Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence against them, they refused to accept their convictions and whatever sentiments were expressed to that effect were not genuine at all,” Judge Mainga commented.

The two men were accused of murdering the 56-year-old Fellinger by shooting him in the head, robbing him and his wife, Elke Fellinger, and then kidnapping Mrs Fellinger, with her murdered husband’s corpse still with them in the Fellingers’ rented bakkie, in the Khomas Hochland on 8 July 2007.

The German couple was attacked on the first day of a visit to Namibia. They were on their way from Windhoek to the coast when they made a stop and were then attacked by two armed men.

After Mrs Fellinger was kidnapped, the attackers dumped her husband’s body in a dry riverbed and then sped on with her still in the bakkie with them.

Their flight with the car came to a sudden end when they overturned the vehicle.

They left Mrs Fellinger behind traumatised and injured as they continued to flee on foot.

The conviction of Shipanga and Kamati was based on evidence that included eyewitness identification of both of them by Mrs Fellinger, DNA evidence that linked them to scenes connected to the murder and other crimes, a written confession by Kamati and admissions made by him when he pointed out the scenes to police officers, and evidence about a camera that was stolen from Mrs Fellinger during the attack which a childhood friend of Shipanga said he had been given by Shipanga.

Defence lawyers Sisa Namandje and Frans Kwala attacked this evidence in the trial and with the appeal. After dissecting their attacks on the evidence, Judge Mainga concluded that the evidence was properly considered by the trial judge and that the two accused men were correctly found guilty.

He agreed that doubts could be raised about Mrs Fellinger’s identification of the two men in the dock when she testified in the trial, but noted that her evidence did not exist in isolation and that other evidence also connected the two men to the crimes of which they were accused. “The decision to acquit or convict an accused is arrived at after a holistic consideration of the evidence presented,” the appeal judge pointed out.

On the nature of the crimes, he commented: “The appellants committed serious premeditated crimes. It is so appalling to think that the victims arrived in the country and that by the end of the day one was dead and one survived by the most fortuitous circumstances.”

Chief Justice Peter Shivute and Judge of Appeal Gerhard Maritz agreed with the judgement.

Former chief public prosecutor Danie Small represented the State the hearing of the appeal in October 2012.

Source : The Namibian