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Main treason trial set to soldier on in September
August 8, 2007
Main treason trial set to soldier on in September


AFTER 230 days in court, testimony from 127 prosecution witnesses, and a typed record running over more than 18 000 pages, the end is still not in sight for the main Caprivi high treason trial.

The trial - already a courtroom marathon that has set a record for being the longest trial in Namibia's history - is scheduled to resume again on September 17 after its latest postponement last week for a seven-week court recess.

In contrast, the second Caprivi treason trial, in which 12 men were indicted, is set to come to an end before Acting Judge John Manyarara in the High Court in Windhoek today with the sentencing of the 10 accused in that trial who were found guilty of high treason last week.

NO CONTEST The main part of that trial, in which the 12 accused men did not participate, turning the matter into a one-sided contest in which the prosecution faced no contest on the merits of the case from the accused, began in mid-March last year.

When the main treason trial continues before Judge Elton Hoff in the High Court building on the grounds of Windhoek Central Prison, it will be the 230th day of proceedings in the main part of that trial, which started before Judge Hoff in the High Court then sitting at Grootfontein on August 23 2004.

In this trial, 119 men are being prosecuted over their alleged involvement between January 1992 and December 2002 in a conspiracy to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia through armed means.

So far this year alone, 40 State witnesses have testified before Judge Hoff over the course of 53 days of proceedings.

Of these witnesses, six testified in a trial within a trial on the admissibility of evidence about alleged admissions made by one of the 119 accused, former Policeman Mathews Pangula.

The trial within a trial kept the court occupied for almost 13 days of proceedings from mid-April until Judge Hoff ruled in mid-July that the contested evidence was admissible.

These proceedings however took place in the absence of 30 of the 119 accused men.

The 30, who are all not legally represented, are continuing with a boycott of the trial that they embarked on in early March.

A spokesman, Aggrey Makendano, who has addressed the court on their behalf, has told Judge Hoff that they have indicated to the court from the early stages of proceedings that they do not consider themselves to be part of the trial, as they see themselves as Caprivians rather than Namibians, and that that they are not interested in listening to State witnesses' testimony or in cross-examining these witnesses.

Attempts have been made to have copies of the transcript of proceedings in the trial delivered to the boycotting accused, but they have refused to accept this material, one of the members of the prosecution team, Deputy Prosecutor General Taswald July, informed the court in late July.

The latest witness to have testified before Judge Hoff is Namibia Defence Force member George Kututa.

He told the court last week that he was at Mpacha Military Base near Katima Mulilo when suspected separatists launched an attack on the base during the early morning hours of August 2 1999.

Kututa related that he took part in operations in which the suspected attackers' tracks were followed out of the base, to nearby villages where suspects were then arrested.

Kututa was the 127th State witness to testify in the trial.

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