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Prison lockdown delays Americans’ murder trial

2021-07-06  Roland Routh

Prison lockdown delays Americans’ murder trial
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A decision by the Windhoek Correctional Facility authority not to allow any inmate to leave the facility for whatever reason until 9 July, delayed the resumption of the trial in which two American citizens are accused of the assassin-style murder of Andre Heckmair in Windhoek in January 2011.

The prison authority made the decision in June after the latest surge in Covid-19 numbers.

Windhoek High Court judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday postponed the matter to 16 August for the continuation of trial.

Marcus Thomas and Kevin Townsend are facing one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice. The State alleges in count one that they killed Heckmair, by shooting him assassin-style in his head on 7 January 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek. In count two, the State alleges that they robbed Heckmair of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Francs. 

Count three and its alternative relates to the alleged importation of two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit or alternatively possession of the 9mm barrels without a license. Count four is the alleged possession of a 7.65mm pistol without a license and count five the unlawful possession of ammunition. In count six they are charged with unlawful, and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice, removed a notebook from police custody after the police seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise dispose of some of the pages in the book. 

According to the summary of substantial facts in the indictment, 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 the indictment, 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, according to the indictment. 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. 

Both Thomas and Townsend were remanded in custody at the Windhoek Central Prison until their next court appearance. Thomas is represented by Lilian Mbaeva on instructions of legal aid and Townsend by Mbanga Siyomunji on private instructions. The State is represented by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef.

2021-07-06  Roland Routh

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