News and Information

Court to rule on fate of 13 treason suspects today
July 21, 2004

THE Supreme Court is today expected to give one of its most keenly-awaited decisions in recent years

The country's highest court is scheduled to rule on whether 13 Caprivi high treason suspects were correctly discharged from the case they faced in the High Court at Grootfontein earlier this year.

The Special Assistant to the Chief Justice yesterday sent out a notice that the Supreme Court would today give its judgement in the appeal that the State lodged against the High Court ruling in which the 13 were discharged from the high treason case.

Judge Elton Hoff ruled on February 23 that the High Court did not have jurisdiction over the 13.

He based his ruling on a finding that they had been brought before the court irregularly because correct legal procedures to have them extradited had not been followed.

The 13 were arrested and charged in Namibia after they had been handed over by either the Zambian or Botswana authorities.

The ranks of the 13 include alleged Caprivi Liberation Army Commander John Samboma and other alleged central figures in a separatist movement that aimed to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.

Today's Supreme Court decision follows an appeal by the State against Judge Hoff's ruling.

The Supreme Court's decision will be of momentous importance for both sides involved in the high treason case.

If the court rules in favour of the State, it will mean that the 13 - or those of them that the court might find had been wrongly discharged almost five months ago - will have to return to the High Court at Grootfontein.

There they might then be set to go through their and 107 fellow suspects' trial on the 278 charges that they face in connection with the alleged separatist movement's activities.

On the other hand, if the State's appeal is dismissed, it could mean that the 13 would have to be set free and might never be required to stand trial for the roles that they might have played in the pursuit of establishing a separate, independent state in the Caprivi Region.

The appeal against the High Court's ruling was argued before a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on May 10 and 11.

Source: The Namibian Newspaper

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