Ernst Lichtenstrasser, the man accused of shooting and killing two top executives of the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT), has refused the services of his newly appointed legal aid counsel.
The Directorate of Legal Aid appointed in-house lawyer Albert Titus to represent Lichtenstrasser (59) during his trial in the Windhoek High Court.
Titus is stationed in Swakopmund, according to legal aid representative, Shaun Gariseb.
Lichtenstrasser applied for a lawyer with the legal aid directorate as he is not in a position to pay his legal fees to Trevor Brockerhoff who has been representing him since his arrest.
Lichtenstrasser, who is not happy with the new appointment, said it will set his case backwards as he must start afresh with the new lawyer.
“My case is of such a nature that it requires forensic research and we have made tremendous strides with Brokerhoff over the past six months. They have now appointed a lawyer that I do not have trust in. I will be appealing this decision,” said Lichtenstrasser.
Lichtenstrasser informed the court Brokerhoff has agreed to be paid the same amount that legal aid is paying the in-house lawyer in order to finalise the matter timeously.
Judge Christie Liebenberg postponed the matter to 7 December to allow Lichtenstrasser to appeal to legal aid with the hope that they will appoint Brokerhoff to continue with the case.
Lichtenstrasser faces two counts of murder, two charges 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.
The prosecution alleges that Lichtenstrasser, a former lecturer at the Tsumeb campus of NIMT, shot and killed Eckhardt Mueller and Heinz Heimo Hellwig who were the executive director and deputy director of NIMT respectively at Arandis in April last year.
Mueller and Hellwig were killed when they were gunned down at the entrance of the NIMT offices at the Erongo mining town.
It is alleged that before the tragic shooting, Lichtenstrasser was employed at the Tsumeb campus of the institution for a couple of years, which was close to his residence at Otavi and was unhappy about a decision to transfer him to the Keetmanshoop campus.
However, it is stated, the two deceased were steadfast in their decision about the transfer despite his remonstrations.
The indictment further reads that Lichtenstrasser and his son went target practising on Saturday 13 April 2019 at a friend’s farm with an unlicensed and illegal 9mm pistol and ammunition.
It is further stated that the next day, he drove to Arandis where he overnighted in the desert.
During the early morning hours of the next day, he waited for the arrival of the two deceased at the entrance to the NIMT premises at Arandis as it was their habit to drive together to the campus.
Upon their arrival, he fired shots at them with the illegal 9mm pistol and both deceased died at the scene due to injuries sustained by the gunshots.
It is further alleged by the State that Lichtenstrasser then fled the scene and drove into the desert where he disassembled the pistol and buried it together with a holster and 18 live bullets in the ground in an attempt to frustrate the investigation of the murders and to hide or destroy evidence connected to the crimes.
It is further alleged that during 2016, he stole a firearm barrel from a gunsmith’s business premises in Grootfontein.
During the same year, he was also in unlawful possession of a shotgun and supplied one of his workers with the shotgun and ammunition without the required licence, authorisation or permit.
Lichtenstrasser is currently in police custody, detained at the Windhoek Correctional Facility.