News and Information
2nd treason accused put on defence
|March 15, 2007
| 2nd treason accused put on defence
A BID from the 12 men in the dock in the second Caprivi high treason trial to be discharged at the close of the State's case against them was rejected in the High Court in Windhoek on Monday.
The 12 will not be acquitted and discharged at the close of the case for the prosecution in their trial, in terms of the ruling handed down by Acting Judge John Manyarara.
The 12 asked Judge Manyarara in early December last year to discharge them on all six charges.
These include counts of high treason, sedition, public violence and illegal importation and possession of firearms and ammunition.
They claimed through a spokesman from their ranks, Vincent Siliye, that their trial had been unfair, that they did not receive equality before the law during their trial, and that their human rights were not respected.
Judge Manyarara dismissed all these complaints on Monday.
He ruled that the prosecution had placed sufficient evidence before the court to make out a case that, as long as this evidence is not disputed or contradicted in the further course of the trial, all 12 accused men had committed the offence of high treason by becoming involved in a plan to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia through the use of violence and armed means.
There is no room for the suggestion that the trial lacked fairness or respect for the accused men's equality and human rights, he said.
On the claim that they were denied legal representation after the defence lawyers that the Legal Aid Directorate had instructed to represent them withdrew from the trial, Judge Manyarara commented they were left without legal representation by their own choice.
Their lawyers withdrew from the trial after the 12 refused to give any instructions to them, and instead insisted that they wanted the lawyers to only challenge the authority that the Namibian state exercises over the Caprivi Region, the Judge noted.
That insistence flowed from a claim by the 12 that they are Caprivians and not Namibians - a point that goes to the root of the charge of high treason that they face, Judge Manyarara said.
Not only citizens of a state, but also alien residents of that state owe allegiance to the state in return for the protection which the state gives them, he pointed out one of the legal principles applicable to the offence of high treason.
In the course of proving a case of high treason against the 12, the State has proven that they all are Namibian citizens and that they owe allegiance to Namibia as a state, Judge Manyarara said.
No part of the prosecution's evidence in the trial was disputed by any of the 12 men who, despite repeated invitations to question witnesses and put their defence to the State witnesses, refused to cross-examine any witnesses or to inspect the record of proceedings in the trial or have witnesses recalled to the witness stand to be cross-examined by them, Judge Manyarara noted.
"This reminds one of the saying that you can take a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink," he remarked.
The stubborn stance that the 12 have been taking throughout the trial was again on display when Judge Manyarara asked each of the 11 of them who were present in court on Monday whether he would want to testify in his own defence, call any witnesses in his defence, or would prefer to close the case in his defence.
None of them gave a direct, to-the-point answer to these questions.
Instead, they told the court that they were not happy with the ruling and wanted to appeal against it to the Supreme Court.
"I don't have any case in this court," the first accused, Progress Munuma, also told the court.
"The case, it is yours, it's not my case," the fifth accused, Vincent Kashu Sinasi, remarked in the same vein.
The 11th accused, John Mazila Tembwe, took a similar line: "I don't have a case in this court for me to call witnesses."
Like some of his co-accused, the seventh accused, Diamond Samuzula Salufu, asked Judge Manyarara to be given time to prepare for an appeal to the Supreme Court.
He added: "Because I'm a human being like you; I cannot be tried like a dog."
Receiving no straight answers from the 11, Acting Judge Manyarara told them that he was taking it that they were closing the cases in their defence as well.
With the 12th accused, Alex Mafwila Liswani, absent due to illness, and to give the other accused men the time that they requested to prepare an appeal against the ruling, the case has been postponed to March 26.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Danie Small, who is leading the State's team in the trial, indicated on Monday already that the State's stance would be that the 12 cannot at this stage, before the entire trial has been finalised, appeal against the ruling on their discharge application.
All of the 12 remain in custody in the meantime.
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