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Lichtenstrasser wanted to protect wife

2023-01-19  Roland Routh

Lichtenstrasser wanted to protect wife

Admitted killer Ernst Josef Lichtenstrasser yesterday continued with his testimony, denying he was anywhere close to the scene or even in Arandis on the fateful day when two senior executives of the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology were gunned down in cold blood. Lichtenstrasser initially admitted he killed Eckhardt Mueller, who was the executive director at the time, and his deputy, Heinz Heimo Hellwig by firing several shots at them at the entrance of the Arandis NIMT offices at the Erongo mining town on 15 April 2019. 

He made this admission in a confession to the police, which was admitted as evidenced by Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg.  In the confession, which he has since recanted, Lichtenstrasser said he drove from his Otavi residence to Arandis the previous evening between 22h00 and 23h00, but he realised when he arrived that he was too early. 

According to his original statement to police, he drove into the desert for a few kilometres, where he kept taking strong painkillers and alcohol.  This dangerous concoction, he said, caused him to hallucinate.

As a result, he started hearing voices in his head – talking and asking: “Is it worth it? Is it worth it?”, while another voice reportedly said: “Mueller deserved it. He is your enemy. He is on a mission”. 

Yesterday, he, however, said he “fabricated” the confession to prevent the police from arresting his wife as an accomplice to the murders. According to him, everything he said in the confession was what was told to him by the officers, who interrogated him “relentlessly” – and the fact that he knew the position of the bullet wounds and the manner in which the accused was shot was because he was shown photographs of the crime scene and the victims. Lichtenstrasser claims he spent the night prior to the killings and the following night in solitude in the desert near Spitzkoppe after a rather vicious fight with his wife. 

He added that he suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and told the court that he gets “urges” to be alone.  According to Lichtenstrasser, on the day before the murders, he drove into the desert for about 20km near Usakos until he came upon some rocky outcrops, where he decided to overnight.  

Furthermore, he told the presiding judge that when he is in the desert, he never listens to his radio and was unaware of the murders. 

He said it was only when he reached Karibib that he saw what he termed “shocking” headlines in the papers that Mueller and Hellwig were murdered.  He then borrowed a cell phone and called his wife, who told him the Erongo police were at his house looking for him. He further said he asked his wife to e-wallet money to the number he called from, and then called a Jason, who confirmed the killings. 

However, he said, at that stage, he did not consider himself a suspect, but asked Jason to organise a lawyer for him. While he was waiting for his wife to send him the money, the Karibib police arrested him.

While he remains adamant that he was nowhere near the scene of the murders, he yesterday said the fight with his wife triggered what happened in Arandis. 

The case continues today, and Lichtenstrasser remains in custody.  -

2023-01-19  Roland Routh

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