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American murder accused loses eighth lawyer

2019-10-29  Roland Routh

American murder accused loses eighth lawyer

WINDHOEK – Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg yesterday granted leave to local lawyer, Titus Ipumbu, to withdraw as the legal representative of American Marcus Thomas who is accused of the assassin-like murder of Andre Heckmair in Windhoek in 2011.

This came after Ipumbu informed the judge that there was an “irretrievable breakdown of trust” between him and Thomas.

Ipumbu also read a letter from Thomas to the court in which Thomas says that he has certain issues of concern with Ipumbu and wishes to be availed a new lawyer.

Ipumbu was the eighth lawyer to be assigned to Thomas by the Directorate of Legal Aid and only after Thomas made an impassioned plea when legal aid decided not to provide him with legal representation anymore.

He however denied that he was unhappy with the service of Ipumbu but told the judge he has a few concerns and that he and Ipumbu could work through it.

However, when the judge asked him straight-up whether he wanted another lawyer, he was quick to answer that he would prefer to be provided with another legal aid lawyer.

Mbanga Siyomunji, who is representing Kevin Townsend, the co-accused of Thomas, on private instruction informed the court that he was not happy with the delay the withdrawal and possible new instruction would cause.

According to him, the main reason he brought an application for a separation of trials – which was denied – was for the trial of Townsend to come to a conclusion, one way or the other.

He took strong exception when deputy prosecutor-general, Advocate Antonia Verhoef, made mention that this could be another delay tactic by Thomas with the assistance of Townsend.

Siyomunji told the court in no uncertain terms that he was ready to proceed with the trial and that his client was in fact anxious for the trial to commence.

Verhoef told the judge that the state is vehemently opposed to another postponement as the trial has been coming on for almost six years.

According to her, the reasons forwarded for the withdrawal of Ipumbu are nothing short of frivolous.
According to her, it is just another “artificial attempt to hold the court hostage and cause another unnecessary delay”.

Judge Liebenberg adjourned the proceedings to today and ordered that Ipumbu must submit an affidavit to legal aid, and Thomas to give a statement under oath, as to their decision to part ways and ordered that a representative of legal aid must be present at court to explain the way forward.      

Thomas and Townsend are accused of killing Heckmair with a single gunshot in the back of his head on 7 January 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Franc. 

They face one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. 

2019-10-29  Roland Routh

Tags: Khomas
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