Double-murder accused Ernst Lichtenstrasser yesterday disputed that he ever made admissions to police officers in which he claimed to be the shooter in the murders of two senior executives of the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology in Arandis.
Lichtenstrasser was testifying in the trial-within-a-trial on the admissibility of admissions he allegedly made to Inspector Reinhardt Maletzky and Warrant Officer Lodewyk van Graan on 15 May 2019. The interview was recorded with a cell phone.
Maletzky also testified Lichtenstrasser told him during an interview at the Arandis police station in April 2019 that he was happy that Eckhardt Mueller who was the executive director at the time and his deputy Heinz Heimo Hellwig were gunned down at the entrance of the Arandis NIMT offices at the Erongo mining town on 15 April 2019.
“I was the shooter,” Lichtenstrasser allegedly told him shortly before he said that he want to tell them the truth.
Maletzky told Windhoek High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg that Lichtenstrasser allegedly told them he would withhold the truth until he consults a lawyer.
Lichtenstrasser is now disputing the alleged admission, saying he was so fatigued after his hunger strike that lasted about three weeks from 23 April to 15 May that he did not pay any attention to what was going on. According to him, Van Graan threatened to arrest his wife as an accomplice in the murders if he doesn’t confess, but he had nothing to confess. He told the court that Van Graan gave him an ultimatum, either confess or see his wife in handcuffs.
This prompted him to agree to confess before a magistrate in Swakopmund, but that did not happen after he informed the magistrate that he was coerced into confessing something he did not do, Lichtenstrasser told the judge.
He further said that after he informed the magistrate about him not allowed to talk to his wife, consult with his lawyer or see his private doctor, the magistrate refused to take the confession and instead ordered a court orderly to take him to a landline so he can call his wife.
He further told the court that after that, everything went back to normal and his wife was allowed to visit, he could consult with a lawyer and was allowed to see a doctor.
Lichtenstrasser also disputed the evidence of the police officers that he was advised of his legal rights whenever he was interrogated, but did concede that during the interview of 15 May 2019 when he made the disputed confession on the cell phone, he was disoriented and did not “pay any attention to what was said to him”.
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 did not provide a plea explanation and his lawyer confirmed the pleas and told the court his client will make use of his constitutionally guaranteed right to remain silent and put the onus on the State to prove each and every allegation against him. The matter continues today and Lichtenstrasser remains in custody.