Thomas Florin’s hopes of being released on remission were dashed on Friday after the High Court dismissed his application.
Florin (55), wanted the court to declare that in terms of the 1998 Prisons Act, he is entitled to a one-third automatic remission of his sentence and further ordering that he be released from prison – which the court dismissed.
Florin has been in custody since June 1998 after he was arrested for the gruesome murder of his wife, Monika Florin (30) at Swakopmund. The court concluded that he murdered his wife by hitting her with a hammer on the head and thereafter cutting up her body, stripping it of its flesh, cooking the remains and hiding her bones in the ceiling of their home.
Consequently, the court convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment on 3 December 1999. He has been in prison for 23 years.
In his bid for release, he argued that the Prisons Act, 1959 was repealed by the Prisons Act, 1998, which came into operation on 24 August 1998. Thus, he is serving his prison term under the Prisons Act, 1998.
According to him, in terms of the Prisons Act, 1998, life imprisonment translates into 25 years’ imprisonment. So, he should have received a reduction of one-third of that sentence.
But judge Shafimana Ueitele noted that Florin has to serve his sentence under the Act that was in operation at the time he committed the offence – which would have been the Prisons Act, 1959. The 1959 Act states that an offender serving life imprisonment may only be released on condition of full parole or probation.
“Having found that the applicant is serving his sentence of life imprisonment under the 1959 Act, I add that Act does not confer on him the right to earn a one-third remission on the period of sentence,” explained Ueitele.
On the life imprisonment term, Florin argued that according to the 1998 Act, life imprisonment means 25 years.
Ueitele said the term of life imprisonment is the most confusing sentence in Namibia’s criminal sentencing jurisprudence. He added that the law only gives a minimum of 20 years, but does not give the maximum term for life imprisonment.
So, Florin’s argument that life imprisonment means 25 years is ‘fallacious’.