Windhoek High Court Acting Judge Petrus Unengu last week admitted the confessions of two of the remaining people still on trial in the long-running high treason trial at the High Court situated at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.
Progress Shine Samulandela (52) Manuel Manepelo Makendano (66) Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, (55) Diamond Samunzala Salufu (58) Hoster Simasiku Ntombo (55) Frederick Isaka Ntambila (54) and John Mazila Tembwe (51) remain in the accused dock after the Supreme Court directed in July 2013 their trial start afresh before a new judge after a successful appeal against their conviction and sentences.
They were initially convicted and sentenced to jail terms ranging from 30 to 32 years by the late justice John Manyarara in 2007. Those convictions and sentences were however set aside by the Supreme Court on appeal. The seven accused, arrested between July 2002 and December 2003 has been in custody now for the past 18 years.
They stand accused of taking part in a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Namibian government in the former Caprivi region between September 1998 and December 2003.
They lost a special plea they lodged against the jurisdiction of the High Court to try them as they claimed the former Caprivi Strip, renamed the Zambezi region was never a part of Namibia.
They face charges of high treason, murder, attempted murder, sedition, public violence, and illegal importation of weapons and ammunition
Two of the accused, Ntambilwa and Tembwe disputed confessions they made to a magistrate at Katima Mulilo shortly after their arrests.
According to them they were not satisfactorily informed of their right to apply for legal aid prior to them making the statements resulting in the statements being obtained unlawfully. However, Judge Usiku found that the failure of both accused to testify in the trial within a trial to determine the admissibility of the confessions left with no other option than to accept the only evidence that was presented, namely that of the prosecution.
He further said that both witnesses who testified for the State was adamant that the right to legal representation including the right to Legal Aid was explained to the accused. “Documentary evidence handed up by both counsel as exhibits, also supported the versions of the two witnesses,” Judge Unengu stated.
He went on to say it is a pity that the accused persons – who bore the onus to prove the allegations of the violation of their constitutional right to a fair trial - chose not to testify in the face of strong evidence to the contrary. The judge said he has no doubt the prosecution had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the right to legal representation including the right to Legal Aid was explained by the magistrate before the confessions were taken down and that both accused were afforded a fair trial as envisaged in Article 12 of the Constitution.
The matter continues and Ilse Aggenbach and Jorg Neves is on record for the accused while prosecutor Laurence Campher represents the State.
2020-03-25 07:33:27 | 2 months ago