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Sentencing date set for 'Caprivi 10'
|August 2, 2007
| Sentencing date set for 'Caprivi 10'
THE 10 men convicted of high treason in the second Caprivi treason trial this week will be sentenced in the High Court in Windhoek on Wednesday.
Acting Judge John Manyarara scheduled the sentencing of the 10 after he yesterday heard final arguments from Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small.
The 10 on Tuesday became the first people in close to 16 years to be convicted of high treason in Namibia.
True to the pattern that has developed during a trial that for the most part took place in the absence of the accused, yesterday's address by Small was also delivered to an empty dock.
The 10 convicted men were in the dock when the session started, but promptly started shouting political slogans - "Viva, UDP, viva", in reference to the political party advocating the secession of the Caprivi Region - before they, once more, broke out in song and were removed from the courtroom.
The same sort of behaviour has repeatedly led to their removal from the dock.
On other occasions, when they were present in court, the 10 and two former co-accused - who were acquitted and discharged on May 30 after the prosecution conceded that the case against them had not been proven - told Acting Judge Manyarara that they did not consider themselves to be part of the trial.
They said they regarded themselves to be Caprivians and not Namibians and did not recognise the power of a Namibian court.
WHYS AND WHEREFORES Part of the evidence on which Acting Judge Manyarara relied to find the 10 guilty was based on testimony that implicated some of them in a plan to obtain weaponry from Angola around early October 1998 in order to arm a fledgling separatist organisation, the Caprivi Liberation Army, in the Caprivi Region.
Those found to have been part of a weapons-procuring trip to Angola are Progress Kenyoka Munuma, Shine Samulandela, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samuzula Salufu, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo, and Alex Mafwila Liswani.
Others were implicated as having taken part in a plan to send CLA members from Botswana, where they had lived as refugees, back to the Caprivi around April 2001 in a bid to regroup CLA forces.
Implicated as having been part of this exercise are Frederick Isaka Ntambilwa, John Mazila Tembwe, Boster Samuele, Shine Samulandela, Alex Mushakwa, Diamond Salufu, Hoster Ntombo, and Alex Liswani.
One of the accused, Manepelo Manuel Makendano, stood apart from the rest.
He was convicted on the basis of evidence that he had been appointed to register young recruits into the CLA in the Sachona and Lubuta areas of the Caprivi around September to October 1998.
SENTENCING Referring to the continuing pattern of disruptions of proceedings, Small told Acting Judge Manyarara that it was indicative of the character of the 10.
"No remorse whatsoever" had been shown by any of the 10, he said.
On Tuesday, when they were informed of their rights to testify or lead evidence in mitigation of sentence, none of them used the opportunity to place any proper mitigatory evidence before the court, Small commented.
He argued that while the 10 had been convicted of high treason because of specific acts, each of them had in essence associated himself with something much larger: the proposed secession of the Caprivi Region through military force.
Small added that as a result they had also associated themselves with what happened exactly eight years ago today, when targets at Katima Mulilo were attacked by suspected CLA members.
"All of them have shown that they are prepared to take up arms and to be registered in the army, to use military means in a democracy to get what they want, or what they believe they are entitled to," Small stated.
Even if someone was found to have performed a relatively small role in a larger plot such as this, he indicated, that person could not be let off with a mere slap on the wrist.
A "substantial period of time" of imprisonment would be necessary and appropriate, Small said.
When Acting Judge Manyarara asked him what he would define as "a substantial period of time", given that the court had no precedent of a similar type of trial in the history of independent Namibia to guide it, Small ventured that he would suggest sentences starting at 15 years.
Namibia is one of a few countries in Africa where people like the convicted men would have been tried in a court in the first place, Small added.
In other countries, it would have been sorted out in much more robust way, he said.
The 10 should be thankful that they were actually arraigned in court, he said.
Deputy Prosecutor General Annemarie Lategan has appeared with Small for the State.
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