Teko Trio Wants New Judge, New Trial

FORMER Public Service Commissioner Teckla Lameck, her business partner, Kongo Mokaxwa, and Chinese national Yang Fan want their High Court trial on fraud and other charges to start from scratch and before a different judge.

Lameck, Mokaxwa and Yang are so dissatisfied with a ruling that Judge Maphios Cheda delivered in their trial on 25 June that they are now asking Judge Cheda to recuse himself from the trial. They also want all of the proceedings that have taken place in their trial so far to be cast aside, and a new trial to start before another judge.

An application in which Lameck, Mokaxwa and Yang are asking for Judge Cheda’s recusal, for the quashing of past proceedings in their trial and for a new trial was lodged at the High Court in Windhoek this week.

Judge Cheda has been informed that the three accused want him to step down from their case. During a short appearance by Lameck, Mokaxwa and Yang before him yesterday he postponed the case to Wednesday next week for the hearing of oral arguments on the recusal application.

The trial before Judge Cheda started in April last year, when the three accused pleaded not guilty to all charges that they are facing. Judge Cheda has already heard the testimony of 20 prosecution witnesses.

The prosecution’s twenty-first witness was testifying during September last year when the team of defence lawyers raised an objection about the admissibility of evidence obtained through the use of summonses issued by the director of the Anti-Corruption Commission. That objection later resulted in Judge Cheda’s ruling, in which he dismissed the defence’s attempt to have evidence about bank statements that were obtained through the ACC summonses excluded from the trial.

In an affidavit filed at the High Court Lameck says the defence team challenged the legality of summonses through which ACC investigators gathered evidence. Search warrants that were also used to collect evidence have not been challenged yet, but would be questioned once the prosecution tries to use evidence obtained though those search warrants, she says.

However, Lameck claims that in his ruling Judge Cheda dealt with the validity of search warrants instead of summonses, with the effect that he made a ruling on a point not yet raised and argued before him.

The question of the validity of the search warrants used by ACC investigators and the admissibility of evidence obtained through the use of the search warrants “forms a material part of the basis of the defence of all the accused” in the case, Lameck says.

She claims that the court has prejudged an issue that has not yet been raised and argued before it, and that she had to “inevitably conclude” that Judge Cheda “closed his mind regarding the objection raised by the accused and predetermined an issue that was not before him”.

The prosecution still has to file its response to Lameck’s claims with the court.

The defence’s objections about the use of summonses by the ACC were raised in respect of testimony about a bank statement of Teko Trading CC, a close corporation of Lameck and Mokaxwa.

According to evidence already before the court Teko Trading had an agreement with a Chinese company, Nuctech, which was represented by Yang, to be paid US$12,8 million by Nuctech after the Chinese company had clinched a deal in May 2008 to sell X-ray scanning equipment to the Ministry of Finance at a total cost of US$55,3 million (then about N$477 million).

Source : The Namibian