The trial of the man accused of killing the two top executives of the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) that was set to start yesterday had to be put on hold as he could no longer afford the services of his privately instructed lawyer.
Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg was told yesterday morning that Ernst Lichtenstrasser (59) will have to apply for Legal Aid, as he is not in a position to pay his legal fees to Trevor Brockerhoff who has been representing him since his arrest.
The judge granted the request for a remand and postponed the matter to the next mentions roll for a status report on the legal aid application.
Lichtenstrasser is facing two counts of murder, two charges of possessing a firearm without a licence, and further charges of possessing ammunition without a licence, defeating or obstructing the course of justice, theft and the unauthorised supply of a firearm and ammunition.
It is alleged by the State that Lichtenstrasser, a former lecturer at the Tsumeb campus of NIMT shot and killed Eckhardt Diethelm Gunther Mueller and Heinz Heimo Hellwig who were the executive director and deputy director of NIMT respectively at Arandis in April last year.
Mueller and Hellwig were gunned down at the entrance of the NIMT offices at the Erongo mining town.
According to the indictment, Lichtenstrasser was employed at the Tsumeb campus of the institution for a couple of years prior to the double slaying which was close to his residence at Otavi and was unhappy about a decision to transfer him to the Keetmanshoop campus.
However, it is stated, the two deceased were steadfast in their decision about the transfer despite his remonstrations.
The indictment further read that Lichtenstrasser and his son went target practising on Saturday, 13 April 2019 at a friend’s farm with an unlicensed and illegal 9mm pistol and ammunition. It is further stated that the next day, he drove to Arandis where he overnighted in the desert.
During the early morning hours of the next day, he waited for the arrival of the two deceased at the entrance to the NIMT premises at Arandis, as it was their habit to drive together to the campus.
“Upon their arrival, the accused fired shots at them with the illegal 9mm pistol and both deceased died at the scene due to injuries sustained by the gunshots,” the indictment states.
It is further alleged by the State that Lichtenstrasser then fled the scene and drove into the desert where he disassembled the pistol and buried it together with a holster and 18 live bullets in the ground in an attempt to frustrate the investigation of the murders and to hide or destroy evidence connected to the crimes.
It is further alleged that during 2016, he stole a firearm barrel from a gunsmith’s business premises in Grootfontein and also during the same year that he was in unlawful possession of a shotgun and supplied one of his workers with the shotgun and ammunition without the required licence, authorisation or permit.
He already denied guilt on the charges he is facing in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court in February this year.
Lichtenstrasser has remained in custody since his arrest a week after the killings. -firstname.lastname@example.org