The Directorate of Legal Aid has appointed a new lawyer for an American national on trial for murder to represent him in his N$1.1 million lawsuit against the safety ministry.
Laura Pack has been appointed as Marcus Thomas’ (36) representative after his lawyer Lilian Mbaeva withdrew from his case, saying she is leaving the legal service and her law firm Lilian Mbaeva Incorporated has shut down.
Thomas is suing the former Minister of Safety and Security: Charles Namoloh, Commissioner-General of the Namibian Correctional Services, Raphael Tuhafeni Hamunyela and four correctional officers, for alleged assault and torture, and emotional stress.
In his suit, he is claiming N$500 000 for assault and torture, N$200 000 for emotional stress and N$400 000 for constitutional damages. The total amount sought is N$1.1 million.
He is alleging the damages arise from an incident which occurred on 13 January 2017 when he was involved in a fight with a fellow inmate in Windhoek Correctional facility’s trial awaiting section. After the fight, he was escorted to the warden’s office where he was questioned about the fight. He allegedly explained his version to the officer but he allegedly did not believe him and told him that he has a problem with all “Africans”.
During the interrogation, he was assaulted after he refused to take a seat on the floor. He was firstly struck with a fist in the head and hit with a baton in the face. Furthermore, various officers beat him up.
According to him, the correctional officer said “all Americans are arrogant”.
During the assault, he said he tried to cover his face and did not retaliate. After the assault, he was locked up in a single isolated cell. He has since opened a case of attempted murder and assault. An internal investigation was conducted and one of the officers was found guilty and fined N$4 000.
Thomas is currently on trial with fellow countryman Kevin Townsend (35) on a count of murder, a count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act and a count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. All the charges are connected to the killing of Andre Peter Heckmair (25) in Windhoek on 7 January 2011.
The prosecution is alleging the two accused met in a jail in New York in the United States of America where Thomas paid the bail of Townsend who was in police custody.
After the release of Townsend, they travelled to Helsinki in Finland from where they forwarded a package to Namibia containing a firearm silencer but was labelled ‘furniture spare’ or ‘table leg replacement’ in preparation for their plan to travel to Namibia and kill the deceased.
After they arrived in Namibia, it is stated in court documents, they started making enquiries on the whereabouts of Heckmair and bought an illegal 7.65mm pistol.
After they managed to contact Heckmair, they lured him to the quiet Gusinde Street in Windhoek’s Eros suburb where they shot him once in the head and robbed him of his cellphone and wallet containing 100 Swiss Franc.
Thomas and Townsend were arrested at a guest house in Windhoek on the evening after the killing.
After their arrest, the indictment further reads, they managed to steal the notebook from the police when they were brought to one of the investigators’ office to collect their clothing and toiletries.
Yesterday, High Court judge Johanna Prinsloo postponed the matter to 18 February 2022 to allow for Pack to familiarise herself with the case.