Defence seeks acquittal in NIMT murder

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Defence seeks acquittal in NIMT murder

Legal Aid lawyer Albert Titus, who is representing double-murder accused Ernst Josef Lichtenstrasser, wants the court to acquit his client on all charges.

Lichtenstrasser admitted to having shot and killed two senior executives of the NIMT institute in Arandis in April 2019.

He has been on trial for the deaths of two of his superiors – NIMT executive director at the time Eckhardt Mueller and his deputy Heinz Heimo

Mueller and Hellwig died in the morning hours of 15 April 2019 after being gunned down at the entrance of the NIMT offices at Arandis.

He further faces two charges of possessing a firearm without a licence, and another charge of possessing ammunition without a licence, defeating or obstructing the course of justice, theft, and the unauthorised supply of a firearm and ammunition.

In a confession that Lichtenstrasser fought hard to keep out of evidence but failed, he admitted to killing Mueller and Hellwig. 

Yesterday, Titus attacked the veracity of the admissions. 

He told the court that evidence was presented after the trial within a trial that put the admissibility of the admissions in doubt. 

He said the evidence of the psychologist who testified about the mental state of the accused and the further evidence that Lichtenstrasser was interrogated several times before the purported confession where he was indoctrinated on what to say paints an adverse picture. 

According to him, Lichtenstrasser would have said anything at that stage to escape from the scenario he found himself him, telling his tormentors exactly what they wanted to hear and what was imprinted on him during the endless hours of interrogation. 

Titus also attacked the chain of custody of the exhibits handed in at court. 

According to him, there are several inconsistencies in the handling of the exhibits by the State, which were not explained. 

For instance, he said, the issue of the two magazines that were allegedly found at the “recovery site” where the gun parts were found were never photographed or noted on the application form for forensic testing, but magically appeared as exhibits. 

He also questioned the way the cartridges were purportedly found at Lichtenstrasser’s residence in Otavi. 

According to Titus, the way the exhibits were handled leaves ample room for questions. 

This, he said, puts a huge question mark on the conclusions reached by the National Police Forensic Science Institute. 

Titus also remarked on the reason why his client was in the Erongo region at the time of the murders. 

According to him, it was not disputed by the State that Lichtenstrasser and his wife had a fight, which, he said, was what prompted his client to drive into the desert to “cool off”.

Deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef asked the court to find Lichtenstrasser guilty as charged. 

According to her, the evidence provided by the State surpasses the threshold of circumstantial evidence. 

While there are no eyewitnesses to the vicious crimes, she said, the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Lichtenstrasser who gunned down Mueller and Hellwig in cold blood. 

According to the State, the DNA evidence on the gun parts is proof that he handled the firearm, and the ballistic evidence confirmed that it was the murder weapon. 

Judge Liebenberg reserved his judgment until 14 November.



Seeking acquittal… Double-murder accused Ernst Lichtenstrasser.

Photo: File