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Ruling pending for second treason trial discharge bid
February 20, 2007
Ruling pending for second treason trial discharge bid


THE 12 men in the dock in the second Caprivi high treason trial will hear in two weeks whether they have succeeded in winning a discharge on all six charges.

Acting Judge John Manyarara is set to give a ruling on March 5 after the State closed its case against them, the 12 were informed in the High Court in Windhoek on Wednesday last week.

This was after Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small had outlined the prosecution's reply to the discharge application of the 12 to Acting Judge Manyarara.

The trial of the 12, who are accused of taking part in a conspiracy to secede the Caprivi Region between September 1998 and mid-December 2003, has been beset by complications and difficulties since it started in September 2005 with a challenge against the court's power to try 11 of the 12 accused men.

After this challenge was dismissed, the 12 wanted their defence lawyers to dispute the court's jurisdiction over them with an argument that they could not be tried in a Namibian court for alleged events that took place in the Caprivi Region, as they do not regard that region as part of Namibia.

This ultimately led to their lawyers' withdrawal from the trial - one of the twists in the trial that a spokesman for the 12, Vincent Siliye, again alluded to on Wednesday when he repeated a charge that he and his co-accused had been denied legal representation, that their rights were violated, and that they were treated unfairly during a trial that they had no interest in.

Siliye told Acting Judge Manyarara that Small's summary of the allegations against the 12 and the evidence heard - without any of the testimony being challenged by the accused, who were absent from court for most of the trial - was "totally irrelevant" to their discharge application at the close of the State's case.

Small and fellow Deputy Prosecutor General Annemarie Lategan summarised the prosecution's opposition to the discharge request in a 28-page written summary of arguments filed with the court.

In it, they said that high treason could only be committed against a State that wields supreme power over a territory.

By virtue of this power, the state compels obedience to its laws and respect for its political authority, and is entitled to punish any person guilty of taking up arms to subvert the government, Small and Lategan state in their summary of arguments.

They argued that in the course of the trial evidence was presented to the court to implicate all 12 accused men as having carried out various acts that would constitute high treason.

During the trial, the court on various occasions heard from the 12 that they do not consider themselves to be Namibians, but regard themselves as Caprivians who do not owe allegiance to the Namibian State, and that in their view the Caprivi Region is under unlawful occupation by the Namibian Government, Small and Lategan also argued.

The uncontested evidence that the prosecution presented to the court - uncontested because the 12 did not want to cross-examine any of the State's witnesses - is that each of the 12 is registered as a Namibian citizen and has a Namibian identity document, that each of them registered as a voter in Namibia's Independence election of 1989, and that some of them also registered as voters in post-Independence elections in Namibia, the two prosecutors argued.

At the same time, they argued, the prosecution's evidence has shown to the court that the national territory of Namibia as recognised by the international community through the organs of the United Nations - this is how Namibia's national territory is defined in the country's Constitution - includes the Caprivi Region.

The 12 suspects remain in custody.


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