WINDHOEK - The trial of the two United States of America (USA) citizens accused of the assassin like murder of Andre Heckmair in Windhoek in 2011 is set to resume on April 15.
The trial after resuming will run until April 18 and again from 6 to 10 May this year, Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg announced last Thursday during a scheduled review hearing. The trial was put on hold previously as Marcus Thomas aged 34, refused to partake in the trial after Legal Aid refused to provide him with another legal representative, Judge Liebenberg thus turning down an application by Thomas to stall the trial until he can secure a lawyer to represent him. His co-accused, Kevan Townsend, is represented by Mbanga Siyomunji on a private instruction after Townsend refused to accept the helping hand of the State in an apparent show of support for his fellow citizen. The trial dates back to 2014 and has been dragging on mostly due to various applications the accused brought before court and the firing and withdrawing of lawyers.
Thomas and Townsend are facing one count of murder, one of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three 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, who is the son of the owners of the Cattle Baron Steak Ranch, by shooting him assassin style in the back of his head on January 7, 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek. In count two, the State alleges that they robbed Heckmair of his cellphone and wallet containing at least 100 Swiss Franc. Count three and its alternative relates to the alleged importation of two 9mm pistol without a permit or alternatively possession of the 9mm pistol without a licence. Count four is the alleged possession of a 7.65mm pistol without a licence and count five the unlawful possession of ammunition.
On count six, they are charged with the unlawful and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice for 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 USA where Thomas paid the bail of Townsend who was in police custody. After Townsend’s release, they travelled to Helsinki, Finland from where they forwarded a package to Namibia containing a firearm silencer, but was labeled ‘furniture spare’ or ‘table leg replacement’ in preparation of their plan to travel to Namibia and kill the deceased. After arriving 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 plush Eros suburb where they shot him once in the head, according to the indictment. After their arrest, the indictment further reads, they managed to remove the notebook when they were brought to one of the investigator’s offices to collect their clothing and toiletries. Both Thomas and Townsend were remanded in custody at the Windhoek Central Prison until their next court appearance. The State is represented by Advocate Antonia Verhoef.