One of the accused in the Fishrot scandal has brought forth a bail application but has demanded his matter to be heard by a magistrate who has not watched the Al Jazeera documentary ‘Anatomy of a Bribe’ or perused files on Wikileaks.
The 31-year-old Pius ‘Taxa’ Mwatelulo, an administrator at Hanganeni, brought forth his application on Friday with a list of demands.
Mwatelulo wants the Windhoek chief magistrate to appoint a presiding officer who has not made any previous decision relating to cases in which he is an accused.
He is further demanding that the presiding officer should not have been a member of the magistracy or Magistrate’s Commission during the tenure of former justice minister now co-accused Sacky Shanghala.
“It is our instructions that our client does not believe that presiding officers who, not long ago fell under the administration of one of the accused persons, can be seen to be fair and impartial in the adjudication of this matter,” said Mwatelulo’s lawyer Gilroy Kasper.
Mwatelulo further demanded that his bail hearing be presided over by an officer who has not watched the Al Jazeera documentary ‘Anatomy of a bribe’ and or has read files on Wikileaks pertaining to the case.
“That documentary, which we, unfortunately, are unable to challenge, is highly prejudicial to our client and infringed upon our clients right to be presumed innocent till proven guilty. It is our instructions that any presiding officer, who might have watched the said documentary, would be impartial over the matter,” said Kasper.
In a letter to the chief magistrate, attorney general, minister of justice and prosecutor general, Kasper pointed out that his client has been subjected to trial and conviction by the media, which appears to be in possession of confidential investigation material.
He said such material has not even been disclosed to their client or handed in any court of law.
“As a result of the documentary and the wholly unfavourable media coverage against our client, our client faces a difficult task to be treated without prejudice, as they are entitled to be treated in terms of Article 12 (1) (d) of the Constitution,” explained Kasper.
Adding that the environment has been poisoned against Mwatelulo for him to enjoy a fair hearing as guaranteed by the Namibian Constitution.
Mwatelulo is charged alongside Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, Mike Nghipunya, James Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo and Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi.
The group faces multiple counts of fraud, tax evasion, bribery, corruptly using office for gratification, money laundering and conspiring to commit corruption.
They reportedly received more than N$130 million in bribes from an Icelandic fishing company Samherji for continuous supply of horse mackerel quotas in Namibia.
In addition, the prosecution is charging the group for defrauding the Ministry of Finance when they made misrepresentations to the Directorate of Inland Revenue that Namgomar Pesca Namibia generated revenue of only N$14.1 million from 2014 to 2019, whereas the company actually generated revenue of N$40.1 million.
Furthermore, they are charged with fraud after N$75.6 million was allegedly channelled from Fishcor to several law firms and entities in which they had interests.