WINDHOEK - No further delays will be tolerated, Acting High Court Judge Kobus Miller said yesterday when he was informed another State-funded lawyer in the mega tax refund trial that was scheduled to start earlier this week has to withdraw from the matter.
The lawyer withdrew citing a conflicting schedule. Local lawyer Boris ‘The Mouth’ Isaacks told Judge Miller that due to previous commitments and his resultant unavailability for the scheduled hearing of the trial that features 14 Angolan citizens and two Namibians, he has to withdraw as counsel for accused 7, Joao Manuel Dos Santos, 38, an Angolan facing 125 counts amounting to N$172.5 million, the largest amount in the indictment.
His other client, accused 15 Lucio Jose Cazembe, 43, an Angolan who faces 112 counts amounting to N$7 million, will now be represented by Mekumbu Tjiteere from Dr Weder, Kauta and Hoveka Inc. law firm.
The judge has instructed the Department of Legal Aid to find a replacement for Isaacks as soon as possible, and he was adamant the trial would start on March 18 with or without a lawyer for Dos Santos. According to the judge, two of the most fundamental rights are at play here, one being the right to be represented by a lawyer and the other the right to a speedy trial.
He said the right to a speedy trial of the accused still in custody is infringed upon as they are in custody since their arrest at the end of November 2015.
Two of the Angolan accused have since absconded after being granted bail. They are Kuakau Nestor, 56, charged with 34 counts amounting to N$3.3 million and Paulo Kiala, 48, facing eight charges totalling N$1.4 million.
The two Namibians and 13 Angolans, accused of defrauding the Namibian government to the tune of N$210 million through false tax refunds on purchases exported from Namibia, are expected to plead to the 667 counts of money laundering and corruptly giving a document containing false information to an agent when their trial resumes.
The amount involved in the massive value-added tax fraud scam has more than doubled from the initial N$114 million to more than N$210 million, it emerged from the indictment document.
It is alleged that the accused were involved in the use of forged tax invoices, VAT claim forms and customs documentation to claim VAT refunds from the Ministry of Finance.
2019-03-01 09:53:43 3 months ago