News and Information

First 'secret' witness in treason trial identified
September 15, 2004


THE first protected civilian witness in the Caprivi high treason trial is expected to take the hot seat at the witness stand in the High Court at Grootfontein tomorrow.

The witness, whose identity the prosecution in the case did not reveal to the defence until Monday this week, was identified to Judge Elton Hoff as one Oscar Munisitwela Muisepi yesterday.

He is 26 years old, and according to what defence counsel Patrick Kauta told Judge Hoff in court yesterday, he is a witness who may implicate not less than 30 of the 120 accused before court when he testifies.

Kauta made the statement when he asked Judge Hoff to adjourn the trial until Monday to give the defence enough time to properly consult with their clients on the testimony that is expected to give.

Kauta told the Judge that the defence had not been provided with a statement setting out the witness's expected evidence three days in advance, as had been agreed with the State.

Deputy Prosecutor General Herman January readily admitted that a bundle of statements of civilian witnesses had been handed to the defence on Friday afternoon only.

He told the court that he had also explained to the defence that the State was facing a difficulty in not knowing how long its first witness in the trial, Detective Warrant Officer Daniel Mouton, was going to be cross-examined by the defence.

The result was that it also could not predict by when it had to disclose its next, protected witness's statement to the defence in order to meet the agreed deadline of three court days before that witness would start testifying, according to January.

Judge Hoff adjourned the trial until tomorrow after the two lawyers had addressed him.

He remarked that according to both the Constitution and common law, an accused person was entitled to be given a chance to properly prepare his defence and his cross-examination of State witnesses.

He considered the arrangement that the State and the defence had agreed on - that the prosecution would provide protected witnesses‚ statements to the defence three court days before the witness started to testify - as reasonable, the Judge said.

The treason trial prosecution has all along refused to disclose all their witnesses' identities or the contents of their expected testimony to the defence or the 120 accused, arguing that these witnesses had to be protected from possible intimidation or threats before they testified.

Up to now, witnesses whose testimony have been disclosed to the defence have, in the main, been members of the Police and the Namibia Defence Force.

Source: The Namibian

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