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Treason trial: Judgement days
July 31, 2007
Treason trial: Judgement days


THE second Caprivi high treason trial entered the home stretch in the High Court in Windhoek yesterday with the start of the delivery of a verdict on the high treason charge faced by the 10 remaining accused men in the trial.

Acting Judge John Manyarara started reading out his judgement to a near empty dock at around noon.

Only one of the 10 remaining accused, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, was in the dock to hear him.

Mushakwa's nine co-accused were still with him in the dock when Acting Judge Manyarara entered the courtroom for the start of proceedings.

However, as soon as his clerk had begun to read out the official title of the case, the second accused, Shine Samulandela, shouted out the first of a succession of slogans which all his co-accused but Mushakwa promptly echoed.

"Viva Muyongo, viva," Samulandela declaimed, a fist punching into the air to underline the point he was making in an obvious reference to Mishake Muyongo, the exiled alleged leader of a separatist movement in the Caprivi Region, former DTA President and, before that, Swapo Vice President.

"Viva UDP, viva," Samulandela continued, this time referring to the DTA member party that Muyongo led and that he allegedly used from about September 1998 as a political vehicle to start proclaiming an idea that the Caprivi should secede from Namibia and become an independent country on its own.

"Viva, Caprivi, viva," Samulandela shouted, before he and his fellow sloganeers broke out in song.

Acting Judge Manyarara listened to the singing for close on 10 minutes before he indicated to his clerk, and she relayed the message to Police officers, that the singing men should be removed.

The 10 men, as well as two former co-accused, Vincent Siliye and Vincent Sinasi, were prosecuted on six charges related to allegations that between September 1998 and mid-December 2003 they had taken part in the activities of a separatist armed organisation, the Caprivi Liberation Army, that was allegedly created under Muyongo's leadership with the aim of securing the secession of the Caprivi Region through military means.

DIFFICULT HISTORY Acting Judge Manyarara used the first part of his judgement to recount the unusual twists and turns that the trial had gone through since it started in the High Court close to two years ago.

Eleven of the accused men raised a special plea at the start of the trial by claiming that the court did not have jurisdiction over them because they had been abducted from Botswana to be arrested and charged in Namibia, he recalled.

That special plea was eventually dismissed.

After that ruling the accused asked for his recusal from the trial - another move from the defence that was eventually dismissed.

When the charges were again put to the accused, they refused to plead and pleas of not guilty were entered on their behalf.

After the accused men refused to give instructions to the two lawyers whom the Directorate of Legal Aid had instructed to represent them in the trial, the lawyers withdrew.

The charged men insisted they wanted legal representation only to challenge the Namibian state's rule over the Caprivi Region, which they claimed was illegal, Acting Judge Manyarara recounted.

He added that they informed the court in statements from the dock that they were Caprivians and not Namibians.

Statements made from the dock do not constitute evidence, the accused men were in turn informed by him, Acting Judge Manyarara continued.

Yet after the prosecution closed its case, none of the accused testified.

Based on a concession from the prosecution, with Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small telling the court that the State had not managed to prove its case against Siliye and Sinasi, because of the absence of proper positive identification by witnesses who testified for the prosecution, these two accused were pronounced not guilty and discharged on May 30.

BASIS OF TREASON On May 30, Small only addressed the court on the high treason charge.

He did not ask for convictions on the other five charges - counts of sedition, high treason, and three counts of illegal importation and possession of firearms and ammunition.

He will also only deal with the high treason charge, Acting Judge Manyarara stated yesterday.

Part of the definition of high treason is that it consists of any overt act unlawfully committed by a person owing allegiance to a state possessing the ultimate power over a territory, with the intention to impair or injure that power by overthrowing or coercing the state, he stated.

He concluded that it had been shown that the Caprivi Region had formed part of Namibia's territory since 1890.

The accused men's claim that the Caprivi was not legally apart of Namibia was not a defence, "but a ploy to avoid prosecution", he stated.

Based on evidence that all of the accused had applied for Namibian identity documents, that all of them had registered to vote in Namibia's Independence election in 1989, and that some of them had also registered as voters in post-Independence polls, he further concluded that it had been proven that all the accused are Namibian citizens.

The prosecution had shown that the territory of Namibia, as recognised by the international community through the organs of the United Nations, includes the Caprivi, Acting Judge Manyarara said.

Acting Judge Manyarara will continue delivering his judgement today.

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