High Court acting Judge David Munsu yesterday reserved his ruling on the bail application by Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi to 27 December this year after hearing closing arguments by the legal teams.
Hatuikulipi has been in custody since 26 November 2019. Richard Metcalfe, who is representing Hatuikulipi with Florian Beukes, asked the judge to grant his client bail of N$200 000 with stringent conditions attached.
According to Metcalfe, Hatuikulipi is a suitable candidate to be released on bail as was demonstrated during the bail application.
“It is, therefore, respectfully submitted that the applicant has set out circumstances which favour the granting of bail to the applicant on the basis that it would not be inconsistent with our case law and/or in conflict with the interest of the public and/or with the administration of justice”, he told the court.
The lawyer asked the court to impose some conditions to cure the fears of the prosecution. It is that he hands in his passport to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and does not apply for a new one until the finalisation of his trial. He also asked that a photocopy of his passport with his photo and description as well as a copy of the court order be provided by the investigating officer to all border posts in Namibia, the Hosea Kutako International Airport, and the Eros Airport.
Furthermore, the accused may not leave the district of Windhoek without written authorisation from the investigating officer, and that he reports to the ACC twice daily between the hours of 07h00 and 09h00, and between 17h00 and 19h00.
State prosecutor Hesekiel Iipinge, on the other hand, submitted that Hatuikulipi is not a suitable candidate for bail.
According to him, no conditions attached would stop applicants if they want to abscond or interfere with State witnesses.
He further said Hatuikulipi faces serious charges and the State has a strong case against him, which could lead to a serious jail term if convicted.
Also, there is evidence that bribe money was offered through the wife of the applicant to organise a protest against the refusal of bail to the Fishrot accused.
“The independence of the judiciary is an important pillar of the rule of law, and court processes should be allowed to run without any external pressures such as demonstrations,” he submitted.
“The applicant, in inducing demonstrations against the judiciary, has the potential of exerting unnecessary pressure on the court processes, thus compromising the administration of justice. This shows that there is a propensity for interfering with State witnesses,” Iipinge said, adding that the applicant is a relative of two of his fellow accused, and a close associate to the rest of them.
Evidence produced during the various bail applications show that the accused worked together as a syndicate, and there is a real likelihood that he will interfere with State witnesses.
In the end, the prosecutor said, it will not be in the interest of the public or the administration of justice to grant him bail.
Hatuikulipi, together with his cousin and former chairman of Fishcor James Hatuikulipi, his father-in-law and former minister of fisheries Bernard Esau, former director of Namgomar Namibia Ricardo Gustavo (on bail), former justice minister Sackey Shanghala, former CEO of Fishcor Mike Nghipunya, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya, Phillipus Mwapopi and Nigel van Wyk, are facing more than 40 counts comprising racketeering, contravening the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft and money-laundering, as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
It is alleged by the State that they corruptly received payments to give a competitive advantage to Icelandic fishing company Samherji in securing access to horse mackerel quotas in Namibia. The State alleges that all the accused acted with a common purpose. Also on the list of people added to the charges is lawyer Marén de Klerk.
The State is yet to extradite De Klerk from South Africa, as well as Icelandic nationals Ingvar Júlíusson, Egill Helgi Árnason and Aðalsteinn Helgason.