News and Information

Judge delays treason discharge ruling
March 6, 2007
Judge delays treason discharge ruling


A KEY ruling in the second Caprivi high treason trial, which was scheduled to be delivered in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday, has been postponed by a week.

Acting Judge John Manyarara was scheduled to give a ruling yesterday on an application in which the 12 men on trial before him had asked to be discharged on all six counts against them at the close of the case for the prosecution.

The 12 accused men were not present when their case returned to court yesterday.

Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small, who is leading the two-member prosecution team in the trial, told the court that he had been informed that Acting Judge Manyarara's ruling was not yet completed, due to the complexity and extent of the case.

Small asked for a one-week postponement of the matter, to Monday next week.

The 12 men face six charges, including a first count of high treason, in connection with allegations that they had taken part in a conspiracy to plan a violent secessionist takeover of the Caprivi Region between September 1998 and mid-December 2003.

Since the main part of their trial started in mid-March last year, the 12 accused men have repeatedly told the court that they do not consider themselves to be part of the trial, since they regard themselves as Caprivians rather than Namibians.

A major part of the trial took place in the absence of the 12, who were removed from the courtroom after they repeatedly sang separatist songs and shouted slogans while the court was in session.

The result has been that none of the 53 State witnesses who testified during the trial faced cross-examination from any of the accused.

By early December last year, after the prosecution had closed its case, the 12 were back in court, and one of them, Vincent Siliye, addressed Acting Judge Manyarara with an application that he and all his co-accused should be declared not guilty and discharged at the end of the State's case against them.

Siliye argued that the 12 had not received a fair trial.

In addition their human rights and specifically the right to equality had been violated during the trial, and that they were denied the right to legal representation after their defence lawyers withdrew from the matter in July last year.

Small replied to that application on February 14 and asked the court to dismiss the discharge bid.

He argued that the prosecution had presented evidence to the court on the high treason charge at least that was sufficient to warrant a conviction of all 12 accused.

The 12 remain in custody.

Seven of them have been in custody since mid-December 2003, two have been in custody since December 2002, two since September 2002 and one since July 2002.


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