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Icelandic ‘fishing expedition’ application postponed

2021-09-20  Maria Amakali

Icelandic ‘fishing expedition’ application postponed
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The hearing for the application in which Icelandic fishing companies are seeking an order that would compel Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa and Fishrot star witness and former Samherji executive, Jóhannes Stefánsson to take the stand and be cross examined, will only be heard in 2022.

On Friday, High Court Judge Orben Sibeya scheduled the hearing to take place on 26 January 2022. 

Sibeya acknowledged it is a lengthy wait. 

“I sympathise with the accused persons whose properties have been seized. However, this is the first time Rule 66 is being raised in this matter. So, I advise the accused to bring forth an application if they are financially strained, which I am prepared to hear on an urgent basis,” explained Sibeya. 

The Icelandic companies: Esja Holding, Mermaria Seafood Namibia, Saga Seafood, Heinaste Investment, Saga Investment and Esja Investment are seeking to obtain answers from Imalwa and Stefánsson.

Imalwa earlier dismissed the fishing companies’ actions as merely a “fishing expedition” to establish statutory arrangements for Stefánsson to testify in Namibia.

In the case of Imalwa, the companies have indicated they wish to know from her if the prosecution will charge and try them alongside the 16 accused in the Fishrot-bribery case. 

In addition, they would like to know if prosecution will extradite the Icelandic executives; Ingvar Juliusson, Egill Helgi Arnason and Adelsteinn Helgason timeously. 

The entities further want Imalwa to state that if Stefánsson is a State witness, will he be available for trial – and what statutory arrangements have been made for him.

In the case of Stefánsson, they want to question him on the veracity of his affidavit, which he furnished the prosecution. 

They want him to indicate if any of the directors participated in the criminal activities or if he acted on his own accord. 

Imalwa, who will be opposing the application, said she wants the court to dismiss the application. 

In an affidavit, she questioned the motives of the entities.

She is arguing the entities want to cross-examine her on issues at heart of the criminal case but without offering to come to Namibia, give evidence and submit to cross-examination on the same issues.

According to her, the fishing companies are merely on a fishing expedition to establish the conditions and statutory arrangements put in place for Stefánsson once he comes to Namibia to testify.

Júlíusson Arnason and Adelsteinn are currently awaiting trial alongside former fisheries minister Bernardt Esau, former justice minister Sackeus Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo, Nigel van Wyk, Otneel Nandetonga Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi in the Nengomar case in which they are accused of paying at least N$103.6 million in bribes to their co-accused so they can get a competitive advantage in securing horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.

The group is also charged alongside 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them.

The case is scheduled for 21 October for a pretrial hearing in the High Court. 

- mamakali@nepc.com.na


2021-09-20  Maria Amakali

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