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Treason trial 10 launch appeal
November 17, 2008
Treason trial 10 launch appeal


THE 10 men convicted in the second Caprivi high treason trial last year returned to the High Court in Windhoek on Friday in an attempt to get started with an appeal against their convictions and prison sentences.

Fifteen months after they were convicted of high treason and sentenced to severe jail terms ranging between 30 and 32 years, the 10 men were back in the courtroom where their turbulent trial ended in their absence on August 8 last year.

The last time the 10 had been in court before Acting Judge John Manyarara, they were removed from the courtroom after they started shouting slogans in support of the secession of the Caprivi Region.

There was no singing on Friday, with the 10 appearing much more subdued as they were escorted into the dock in handcuffs, dressed in the green uniforms that are the standard dress of sentenced prisoners in the Namibian penal system.

Acting Judge Manyarara told them that their application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court had not been filed within the prescribed period of 14 days after their sentencing, with the result that they must file affidavits with the court to set out the reasons for their failure to comply with that time limit.

The man who had been the first accused in the trial before Acting Judge Manyarara, Progress Kenyoka Munuma, addressed the court on behalf of the whole group.

Munuma told the court that after their sentencing, the group was split up and sent to various prisons.

They are now divided between Windhoek Central Prison and the prisons at Walvis Bay, Hardap and Oluno.

Munuma said they were never given time to get hold of documentation on their trial - such as the judgement in which they were found guilty, the judgement on their sentencing, and the full trial record - from the court.

During their trial, of which the major part took place in their absence, copies of the trial record were supposed to be provided to the accused in prison.

At that stage they however refused to accept the record, the court was told at the time.

Munuma said they were informed only a week before Friday that the documents had been delivered to the head of Windhoek Central Prison.

It did not reach them, he said.

He asked the court for time to obtain the trial record, and also for help in obtaining legal representation for an appeal bid.

While most of their trial took place in their absence after Munuma and his co-accused were repeatedly removed from the court for rowdy behaviour in the dock, the 12 men who were on trial before Acting Judge Manyarara - two of them were acquitted at the end of the trial - were also without legal representation for most of the main part of the trial.

They had been provided with State-funded legal aid, but the relationship between them and their defence lawyers went sour when Munuma and his co-accused insisted that the lawyers should pursue a line of defence in which they were to argue that the Caprivi Region was not legally part of Namibia, with the result that Namibian courts did not have jurisdiction over the 12.

With Munuma having told the court that he and his colleagues were laymen and needed legal representation to help them in an appeal, Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small suggested the 10 might have to consider whether they wanted to apply for legal aid again, or if they wanted to approach the Legal Assistance Centre or the National Society for Human Rights for assistance - or even consider writing to exiled secessionist leader Mishake Muyongo to ask if he would assist with a lawyer.

Small stressed that the 10 men would have only one chance to ask to be allowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

If they didn't get it right, the only remaining avenue open to them would be to petition the Chief Justice to be given leave to appeal.

To try to go through the appeal process without legal representation carried great risks, he said.

Having heard Munuma's and Small's addresses, Acting Judge Manyarara ordered that the application be removed from the court roll.

Once they are ready to proceed with their application to be allowed to appeal, it can be placed back on the court roll for a hearing.

Munuma and his co-accused were convicted in connection with an attempt between September 1998 and December 2003 to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia.

Munuma was sentenced to 32 years' imprisonment, as were Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Manepelo Manuel Makendano, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samuzala Salufu, Boster Mubuyaeta Samuele and Alex Mafwila Liswani.

Sentenced to 30 years were Frederick Isaka Ntambilwa, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo and John Mazila Tembwe.


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