Key American murder accused now to defend himself in murder trial

The High Court on Tuesday ordered the continuation of the trial of two American nationals charged with murdering Windhoek resident Andre Heckmair in January 2011 to proceed as scheduled without key murder accused Marcus Kevin Tomas having legal representation.

High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg, who is presiding over the case, on Tuesday morning ordered the continuation of the trial to proceed because the court could no longer entertain any further delay to allow the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal to appoint and instruct another State-funded defence lawyer for accused Tomas.

Tomas, who is accused number one in the matter, was on Monday left without legal representation after he terminated the services of his government-sponsored defence lawyer Titus Ipumbu due to an irreconcilable break-down of trust between him and Ipumbu.

Following the withdrawal of Ipumbu from the case on Monday, Legal Aid' Senior Administrative Officer Shawn Gariseb on Tuesday requested the court to be afforded at least 14 days to find Tomas a new lawyer.

However, Gariseb's request was also not considered by the court due to the facts that Tomas has himself caused several delays of the trial when he terminated the services of a total of nine (9) lawyers (including Ipumbu) over the past five (5) years.

In addition, Tomas further caused some irreparable delays of the trial when he brought an application for the removal of Judge Liebenberg from presiding over the case, which was also dismissed by the court.

'The continuation of this trial will proceed without accused number one- Marcus Kevin Tomas- having legal representation. Accused Tomas is not serious and the court will no longer entertain further delays. Accused Tomas, you are now required to defend yourself, ' said Liebenberg as he ordered the continuation of the trial to go on.

As per court decision, the continuation of the trial was ordered to resume on Tuesday afternoon at 145.

Tomas is charged in the matter alongside countryman Kevan Townsend in connection with the murder of Heckmair.

The two Americans each face charges of murder; robbery with aggravating circumstances; unlawful importation of a firearm into Namibia; illegal possession of a firearm; illegal possession of ammunition; and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The two men have already pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

According to the police, Heckmair was allegedly found dead behind the wheel of a Land Cruiser in a cul-de-sac in the Klein Windhoek residential area on 07 January 2011.

Investigations launched by the police led them to Townsend and Tomas, and the pair were arrested on 13 January 2011.

Townsend is represented by Mbanga Siyomuinji, while Deputy Prosecutor-General, Antonia Verhoef, is appearing for the prosecution.

Source: Namibia Press Agency