News and Information

August 10, 2010

Judge Elton Hoff

THE main Caprivi high treason trial remains suspended while a date for the hearing of a Supreme Court appeal on a ruling given in the trial at the start of March is being awaited.

The high treason case made a return to the High Court on the grounds of Windhoek Central Prison yesterday – only to be postponed once more without any further testimony being heard.

The trial has been stalled since the beginning of April, when Judge Elton Hoff gave a ruling in which he opened the way for the prosecution to appeal to the Supreme Court against part of an earlier ruling he had given in the trial on March 1.

In the ruling on March 1, Judge Hoff refused to accept 26 statements made by accused persons in the trial after their arrest as evidence in the trial.

The statements made by some of the accused were ruled inadmissible in the light of evidence that these suspects had told the magistrates who were recording their statements that they had been assaulted by Police officers.

Twelve other statements were also ruled out as evidence in the trial on the sole point that these suspects had not been informed that they had a right to apply to be provided with State-funded legal aid before their statements were recorded in writing.

It is in respect of these statements that Judge Hoff has given the prosecution leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The prosecution also petitioned the Supreme Court to be allowed to appeal against the rest of Judge Hoff’s ruling of March 1 as well, but this petition was dismissed by three judges of that court on June 9.

With the return of the case to court yesterday, the leader of the prosecution team, Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January, told Judge Hoff that the date for the hearing of the State’s appeal on the March 1 ruling has still not been set. January added that it has been indicated to him that a date for the appeal hearing would only be set once the reasons for the Supreme Court’s ruling of June 9 have been handed down.

Those reasons are expected to be given during August still, he said.

He also told Judge Hoff that he has been informed that a date early in September might be set for the hearing of the appeal. The trial has now been postponed until September 20.

When the trial resumes, the prosecution’s 346th witness in the main part of the trial is expected to continue with testimony that he started giving in March.

The first phase of the trial started in late October 2003. The main part of the trial got going in earnest in late August 2004.

There are 113 people remaining indicted in the trial, after the death of 18 of the suspects initially charged in the matter. The 113 remaining accused are facing 278 counts, which include a main charge of high treason, a charge of sedition, nine counts of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder.

The charges stem from allegations that between January 1992 and December 2002 the accused took part in a conspiracy to overthrow the Namibian authorities in the Caprivi Region and establish an independent state in that part of the country. None of the charged men is admitting guilt on any of the charges. All of them are in custody in Windhoek Central Prison, with dozens of them having spent the past 11 years in jail.


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