News and Information

Further delay to Caprivi high treason trial appears inevitable
April 21, 2005


THE CAPRIVI high treason trial that has been taking place in the High Court at Grootfontein will in all probability have to be postponed again when the case returns to court on May 17 after a seven-week adjournment.

Prosecutor-General Martha Imalwa told The Namibian in an interview yesterday that she was not expecting the State to be ready to proceed with its prosecution of 120 high treason suspects when the matter returns to court on May 17.

She was also not able to say whether an attempt would be made to move the trial to Windhoek - but such a possibility could not be excluded, she indicated.

Imalwa said she could foresee the State applying for a further postponement, but could not at this stage estimate how much more time would be needed for a new prosecution team to get itself ready to proceed with the landmark trial.

The first two members of the new team, which has to take over from the team that was shattered in a fatal car accident on March 28, will be Deputy Prosecutor-General Danie Small and Leoni Dunn, Imalwa revealed.

A third team member is yet to be identified and instructed to help take over the prosecution, she said.

The March 28 accident, which happened while the team of Deputy Prosecutors-General Herman January and Taswald July and fellow Prosecutor Corelie Barnard were travelling from Windhoek to Grootfontein for what was supposed to be the continuation of the testimony of the State's 10th witness in the trial, claimed Barnard's life and left January and July critically injured.

While they have made some progress towards recovering from the injuries that they suffered in the accident, both January and July still remain in a serious condition in intensive care units in hospitals in Windhoek.

According to Imalwa, Small and Dunn have not yet been able to start working through the transcripts of the trial's proceedings so far.

That in itself is already a mammoth task.

The transcripts run over 3 891 typewritten pages.

Both Small and Dunn have the benefit of some background knowledge of the case at least, with Small having drawn up the indictment to be used in the second Caprivi high treason trial - at this stage set to start in the High Court in Windhoek on May 16 - and Dunn having worked on the case against the 120 people being prosecuted at Grootfontein before Barnard replaced her in mid-2003.

The facts of the second high treason case overlap those in the first one to a substantial degree.

Imalwa said she did not want the starting date of the second trial to be postponed - but at the same time it is yet to be seen which Public Prosecutor from the PG's Office will be instructed to handle that matter.

Small had been set to lead the prosecution in the second trial, in which 12 men are charged with involvement in an alleged conspiracy to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia.

A move of the trial to Windhoek would eliminate the 900 kilometre-journeys to Windhoek and back that presiding Judge Elton Hoff, the former prosecution team and almost half of the defence lawyers involved in the trial have been making on an almost weekly basis since it started in late August last year.

Imalwa said while she could not at this stage say whether the trial would be moved to Windhoek or not, she could also not rule out that such a move may be considered.

The prosecution will however first have to get its house in order before that issue could be considered, and then it would not be up to her alone, but would also have to involve consultations with the office of the Judge President of the High Court, she stated.


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