Roland Routh WINDHOEK – It never rains but it pours for American Marcus Thomas when it comes to legal representatives as his latest state-funded lawyer, Gilroy Kasper, yesterday declined the offer to represent him in the trial that has been dragging on since 2014. Kasper had to decline as he has no dates open this year but Judge Christi Liebenberg wants the trial underway and possibly finalised this year. The judge has now instructed the legal aid directorate to find a lawyer who will be available on the dates the trial is set down for Thomas. The trial stalled shortly after its start when Thomas asked the court through his then legal representative, Werner van Rensburg, for mental observation after he fell from a two-metre fence while attempting to escape from custody. Since then he lost various lawyers. Judge Liebenberg recently dismissed an application by Thomas to recuse himself from the trial for alleged bias. The Supreme Court dismissed the subsequent appeal Thomas lodged against the refusal. Thomas alleged that Judge Liebenberg showed bias when he used the words ‘acted’ or ‘acts’ on July 3, 2017 in a ruling to determine the admissibility of two psychiatric reports that declared him fit to stand trial. Thomas, who claimed he suffered a brain injury when he fell from a two-metre fence during a botched escape attempt, was declared fit to stand trial in the Windhoek High Court by two psychiatrists after he was sent for successive psychiatric evaluations by the court. He was first declared unfit by state psychiatrist Dr Frieda Mthoko because of a neuro-cognitive disorder, but was later found to be malingering by two private psychiatrists, Dr Reinhardt Sieberhagen and Professor Tuviah Zabow from South Africa. Yesterday it was also revealed that Kevin Townsend, who is accused with Thomas of the murder of Namibian national Andre Heckmair, lodged an application on his own for the stay of the criminal proceedings until a civil case he has against the prosecutor-general, and the prosecutor in the murder trial, Advocate Antonia Verhoef, is finalised. In the civil matter he is suing the state and the office of the prosecutor-general for unlawful solitary confinement and also wants Verhoef removed from the trial because “she is biased against him and just wants to see him punished”. According to him, he is not offered the protection he is entitled to in line with the doctrine of innocent until proven guilty in a competent court of law. Judge Liebenberg told Mbanga Siyomunji, the state-funded legal representative of Townsend, that he will not entertain the stay application as it was not done through Siyomunji. The state alleges that the American pair killed Heckmair, who is the son of the owners of the Cattle Baron Steak Ranch, by shooting him assassin-style in the back of his head on January 7, 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbed him of his cellphone and wallet containing 100 Swiss Franc. They also allegedly imported two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit and allegedly possessed a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition without a licence. It is further alleged that the accused removed a notebook from police custody after the police seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise dispose of some of the pages in the book.
2018-07-25 09:16:22 2 months ago