News and Information
State sets out its case in Caprivi case
|August 25, 2004
| WERNER MENGES
A PREMEDITATED conspiracy to overthrow the legitimate Government of Namibia in the Caprivi Region is what the prosecution aims to prove in the Caprivi high treason trial in the High Court at Grootfontein.
The parameters of the case the prosecution plans to present to Judge Elton Hoff in respect of the 120 accused people, who face 278 charges, was revealed by State Advocate Taswald July in an opening address to the court shortly before the court took its lunchtime adjournment yesterday.
It would be a case that would show that, "under the pretext of seeking political emancipation from Namibia", the 120 accused "individually and collectively committed criminal acts against a sovereign state, the Republic of Namibia", July told the court.
"In our system of law as in the legal systems of most communities of the world it is not criminal to seek political reform," he said.
"Constitutional changes, however radical and far-reaching, may be lawfully sought by legitimate and constitutional means only.
When the methods used become unlawful and unconstitutional the individual using them commits high treason.
These, together with other charges, are the crimes which have been committed by those involved in the armed rebellion in the Caprivi Region on the 2nd August 1999.
These would be the charges which the state has set itself out to prove during this trial.
"The State will seek during this trial to bring within the scope of a single prosecution, the development of events which culminated into the attacks in the Caprivi Region on the 2nd August 1999.
To this end, reference will be made to events in other countries i.e.
Zambia, Botswana and Angola, involving many individuals, innumerable events and last but not least a number of documents that will show that the events on the 2nd August 1999 in the Caprivi Region were premeditated with the aim of overthrowing the legitimate Government of Namibia in the Caprivi Region.
"The State will show that the armed secession in the Caprivi Region was planned by the political leadership of the United Democratic Party, executed by the soldiers of the Caprivi Liberation Army, and supported by those who had similar aims and objectives of seceding Caprivi from the rest of Namibia by military means."
July continued:"The State will lead evidence during this trial that will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each of the accused having acted individually and collectively committed criminal acts against a sovereign State, the Republic of Namibia, under the pretext of seeking political emancipation from Namibia.
This objective was to have been achieved through the use of violence."
He said this had taken place in the context of Namibia being a State whose Constitution - which some of the accused together with their leaders helped draft - established Namibia as a unitary state consisting of the whole of the territory recognised through the organs of the United Nations.
"This Constitution is internationally regarded as one of the most liberal constitutions in the world that guarantees to all its people civil liberties consistent with those of democratic nations in the world," July said.
"The State will show that the acts of the accused were performed in pursuance to a conspiracy and with the knowledge and agreement of each accused, who were intent upon subverting the constitutional structure of Namibia in the Caprivi Region by military means," he added.
"The evidence will show that these acts were preceded by, inter alia, the holding of meetings where the idea of the violent secession of the Caprivi Region from Namibia was promoted, obtaining weapons of war, the establishment of a rebel army, the establishment of various rebel bases in Namibia and on foreign soil, recruiting of soldiers for the army and persons in support of the secession idea.
"The State will further show that strategic targets that were attacked were identified beforehand by those involved in the attacks on 2nd August 1999.
In pursuance of this objective, the accused killed, injured and damaged property of law-abiding citizens of the Republic of Namibia in the Caprivi Region."
Towards the end of his 25-minute address, July turned to another aspect of the prosecution which may crop up again during the trial if any of the 120 claim to they are being prosecuted for their political views.
"The accused are not on trial because of their political beliefs or affiliations but because of the criminal actions that they waged against the Namibian Government and its people on the 2nd August 1999 in the Caprivi Region," he said.
"The Namibian People are a peace-loving nation who cherishes the hard fought freedom that we as Namibians today enjoy, and never again should any Namibian have to resort to violence to settle national differences that could and should be solved through dialogue and persuasion as provided for in the Constitution of Namibia."
He closed his address by saying:"Namibia is a constitutional democracy governed by the rule of law.
At the conclusion of this trial, the State would ask the court to evaluate the actions of the accused that are contrary to the laws of Namibia.
The State does not propose that the political aspirations of the accused be judged, for this can be lawfully sought provided it is done by legitimate means and in accordance with the Constitution of Namibia.
The State intends to prove that the accused acted contrary to the laws of Namibia and would pray at the end of the trial that those who are found criminally responsible be held criminally accountable for their actions."
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