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‘I only confessed to save my wife’

2022-12-08  Roland Routh

‘I only confessed to save my wife’

Double murder accused Ernst Josef Lichtenstrasser said he only confessed to the murders of two senior executives of the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology in Arandis because the police threatened to arrest his wife.

During the cross-examination yesterday of warrant officer Lodewyk van Graan, the legal aid lawyer of Lichtenstrasser said his instructions are that Van Graan told him just before his confession: “Are you ready to confess, or shall I show you your wife in handcuffs?” 

Albert Titus told Van Graan that Lichtenstrasser denies that he ever mentioned his military background voluntarily, and that he was confronted with it during an interview on 18 April 2019 in Arandis. 

Furthermore, Titus said, his client denies that he told Van Graan that he hadn’t fired a firearm for two months prior to his arrest, and only changed his story to him firing a rifle on the previous Saturday after Van Graan said that in that case, there would be no gunshot residue on his clothes. 

Titus told Van Graan that his client is adamant that he told the police he fired his rifle the previous Saturday, even before he was asked about it. Van Graan made all of this off as lies and untruths by Lichtenstrasser. 

The officer said Lichtenstrasser told him and other police officers that he could not fool them and wanted to tell them the truth, but that he first wanted to speak to a lawyer, and they ended the interview there and then. 

According to Van Graan, he used his own cellphone to contact Lichtenstrasser’s wife. She and a lawyer then arrived there with fresh clothes for the accused. It was only after the wife arrived with the fresh clothes that they confiscated the clothes Lichtenstrasser was wearing to test them. Titus informed the officer that his client denies this, and that he told them ‘If I was the shooter, I know I would not be able to fool you’. While Lichtenstrasser’s wife and a person named ‘Jason’ were persons of interest, especially since they were in cellphone contact at the time of the incident, they did not have any reason to arrest the duo after Lichtenstrasser was apprehended, the officer testified, and he thus had nothing to threaten Lichtenstrasser with. 

Furthermore, he said, as Lichtenstrasser himself knew they had nothing to do with the murders, it would have been an empty threat. The officer added that Lichtenstrasser was speaking openly about what was on his mind, and even told them that he and his wife were involved in a terrible argument that led to damage to a coffee table, and also caused him to throw his cellphone against a wall. 

Van Graan continued testifying that the accused was open about his military history and his expertise in firearms, and even told them about his involvement in the armed struggle in southern Africa, and especially Namibia.

However, Titus continued to put it that his client is denying all of this, and did not volunteer any of the information, but was confronted with that information.

Lichtenstrasser pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, two counts 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 at the start of his trial. 

He is accused of having shot and killed Eckhardt Mueller and Heinz Heimo Hellwig at the NIMT Arandis offices on 15 April 2019

The matter continues today before Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg. The State is represented by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef.

Lichtenstrasser remains in custody.

2022-12-08  Roland Routh

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