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Americans want seizure of items declared illegal

2022-03-28  Roland Routh

Americans want seizure of items declared illegal

Lawyers representing two American citizens accused of the assassin-like murder of Andre Heckmair in Windhoek in January 2011, want the High Court to declare some items seized from their room inadmissible.

The items include two gun barrels and an MTC sim card. 

The items were seized during a disputed search of the room at a guesthouse in Windhoek. 

The police did not have a search warrant when they searched the room. The dispute led to a trial-within-a-trial that was completed last week with arguments from both sides regarding the admissibility of the evidence. 

The State, as represented by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef argued the police did not need a search warrant because they feared that had they delayed the search, evidence could be destroyed. 

She also contended that the police had enough reasons to suspect that the two Americans, Marcus Thomas and Kevan Townsend were involved in the murder of Heckmair. 

According to her, the Criminal Procedures Act makes provision for the police to search premises without consent or a search warrant if they suspect anything un-towards may happen or if they believe they will get a warrant afterwards.

In this instance, she said, to admit the evidence obtained during the search will not be unfair to the accused nor will it be detrimental to the administration of justice.

Laura Pack, representing Thomas, on instructions from legal aid argued that it will be prejudicial to the accused and will not be in the interest of justice to allow the disputed evidence. 

She said the onus remains squarely on the shoulders of the police and the State to prove that they had reasonable suspicion to conduct a search without a warrant. 

“The reasonable grounds advanced by the police fall far short of the requirements of the Act,” she said.

“By their own admission, the police thought the grounds they had for the invasion of the accused persons’ privacy was not enough to obtain a search warrant.”

Mbanga Siyomunji, on behalf of Townsend, argued even suspects have rights. He said that the law provides that any person in Namibia is entitled to privacy, which cannot be deprived for any measly reason. 

“The police or whatever law enforcement agency are only entitled to invade someone’s privacy if and only if they have valid and sufficient grounds to do so,” he argued.

Judge Christie Liebenberg who presides over the matter reserved his judgement and said he will endeavour to deliver judgment on 14 April.


2022-03-28  Roland Routh

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