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Prison closure delays NIMT murder trial

2021-06-29  Roland Routh

Prison closure delays NIMT murder trial
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The main trial of Ernst Lichtenstrasser (60), accused of killing two senior managers at the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT) in Arandis, was again put on hold yesterday, as he cannot attend court proceedings.

The section for trial awaiting inmates at the Windhoek Correctional Facility is on lockdown until 9 July, which means no trial awaiting inmates can attend court proceedings or consult with their legal representatives.

Judge Christi Liebenberg postponed the matter to 26 July Windhoek High Court before. The matter was supposed to resume yesterday after his legal aid lawyer Albert Titus had to go in isolation after having been in contact with a Covid-19 positive person. The trial was also delayed after a witness, Abel Nyambe, learnt at the last minute about the passing of his sister.

Lichthenstrasser 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 Titus 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 every allegation against him.

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 2019. 

 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 victims were steadfast in their decision about the transfer, despite his remonstrations. 

Lichtenstrasser remains in police custody at the section for trial awaiting inmates at the Windhoek Correctional Facility. 

 - rrouth@nepc.com.na


2021-06-29  Roland Routh

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