Treason Trial Reaches Closing Arguments

WHO was responsible for the surprise attacks that rocked Katima Mulilo and the former Caprivi region on 2 August 1999, and why were the attacks carried out?

These are the two key questions for which the prosecution in the main Caprivi high treason trial tried to provide answers over the past ten years, Judge Elton Hoff heard in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Judge Hoff will be asked to determine who carried out the attacks on government-linked targets at Katima Mulilo, who was involved in the killing of alleged separatist deserter Victor Falali in the then Caprivi region in late October 1998, and what motivated the killing of Falali and the attacks that followed ten months later, deputy prosecutor general Taswald July said at the start of an address that marks the beginning of the final stages in the trial.

With July’s address to the court, Judge Hoff has begun to hear closing arguments from the prosecution, to be followed by closing arguments from the ten defence lawyers involved in the trial, before he prepares the judgement in which he will indicate whether the 65 accused before court have been convicted or acquitted of the charges they are facing.

The trial has been a difficult and taxing process for everyone involved, July remarked. He noted that in the history of Namibia, there has never been a criminal trial on such a scale. The main treason trial started with 121 accused in the dock, facing 278 charges, and 379 State witnesses testified during the trial, he recounted.

Nobody would be able to dispute that on 2 August 1999 attacks were launched on the Mpacha military base, the Katima Mulilo Police Station, the Wenela border post, the Katounyana Special Field Force base, and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation office, July said.

Eight people died in the attacks. Three alleged attackers also lost their lives.

The attacks were not a spontaneous event, but were planned, with the targets strategically chosen, July said.

The prosecution sought to show to the court that the attacks occurred as a result of a conspiracy that involved people acting with a common purpose, he said.

That conspiracy started with a former member party of the DTA of Namibia, the United Democratic Party (UDP), which changed from a legitimate political party to a criminal organisation when it became involved in secessionism, July argued.

During 1998, the UDP – at that stage led by the then DTA leader Mishake Muyongo – established a military wing, which was first known as the Caprivi Liberation Movement (CLM) before its name changed to the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA), he argued.

Before that, the proposed secession of Caprivi (now the Zambezi region) from Namibia had already been discussed at UDP meetings in the region since 1992, July also argued.

During 1998, people were recruited to join the separatist CLM or CLA, and training camps were being established in the region, July related. The court heard testimony that a buffalo stampede through one of those camps, at Lyiubu-Lyiubu south of Linyanti, gave some unwilling trainees, including Victor Falali, a chance to escape, he said.

However, Falali was tracked down by other people from the training camp and shot dead in late October 1998. That event was a key point in the secessionist saga, since the killing sparked the exodus of a first group of 92 people from the training camps to Botswana, where their primary aim was to prepare for a return to Namibia and to violently secede Caprivi from Namibia, July argued.

The people who were part of the group of 92 that crossed into Botswana carrying weapons of war at the end of October 1998 should be convicted of the murder of Falali, July argued.

Having sketched the broad outlines of the separatist conspiracy that the prosecution alleged had occurred, July moved on to evidence that he argued proved the individual involvement of the 65 accused in the conspiracy. He is due to continue with his closing argument today.

Source : The Namibian