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Second high treason trial races through witnesses
November 16, 2006
Second high treason trial races through witnesses


THE prosecution's case in the second Caprivi high treason trial could be wrapped up in the High Court in Windhoek by the close of this week.

With the 12 men standing trial on charges of high treason, sedition, public violence and illegal possession of arms and ammunition remaining absent from the court where evidence in their case is being heard by Acting Judge John Manyarara, the trial has raced through the testimony of 34 State witnesses since it resumed a month ago following a two-and-a-half month adjournment.

Sixteen of those witnesses have testified behind closed doors, their identities concealed from public view under orders that Acting Judge Manyarara granted at the prosecution's request.

Deputy Prosecutor General Danie Small, who is leading the two-person prosecution team in the trial, told The Namibian yesterday that the State might present its last witnesses' testimony to the court this week still.

The plan is to then provide copies of the trial record, including transcripts of the testimony of all the witnesses who testified for the prosecution, to the 12 accused men in order to give them a chance to decide whether they want to have any of the witnesses called back to the witness stand to be cross-examined.

The trial, which continues today, has been proceeding in the absence of the 12 since they were finally removed from the court on October 17, after they again interrupted proceedings in the trial by starting to sing a secessionist anthem in the dock.

The 12 had also previously, during July, interrupted proceedings by breaking out in song.

On that occasion Acting Judge Manyarara convicted them of contempt of court.

The 12 have told him that they are not interested in the trial, since they do not consider themselves to be Namibians - they say they are Caprivians first and foremost - and do not acknowledge the power of a Namibian court over them.

The prosecution has in the meantime presented evidence to the court that indicates that all 12 of the accused men registered as voters for Namibia's pre-Independence national election in 1989, that all 12 are registered as Namibian citizens, and that four of them - Shine Samulandela, Vincent Sinasi, Diamond Salufu and Alex Mafwila Liswani - have also applied for citizenship.

Much of the other testimony so far heard by Acting Judge Manyarara has been a repeat of evidence previously heard in the main Caprivi high treason trial.

The latest three witnesses to give in camera testimony told the court on Friday and yesterday that they were press-ganged into joining a group of people who were gathered at a bush camp in the Makanga area some 70 kilometres southwest of Katima Mulilo on the eve of the surprise attacks that armed separatists are alleged to have carried out at Katima Mulilo in the early morning hours of August 2 1999.

One witness told the court that he ended up being part of a group that went to the Katounyana Special Field Force Base outside Katima Mulilo.

The other witness - the 45th State witness to testify in the trial - told the court that he was in a group that headed to the Katima Mulilo Police Station on August 2 1999, while the State's 47th witness in the trial told the court yesterday that he was in a group that went to attack the Mpacha Military base near Katima Mulilo.

All three witnesses told the court that they did not carry firearms when they set off for the planned attacks, and that they ran off and returned to their home villages after the gunfire that marked the beginning of the attacks had started.

None of these three witnesses directly implicated any of the 12 accused in the trial as having taken part in those attacks.

The 12 accused are Progress Munuma, Shine Samulandela, Manuel Makendano, Vincent Siliye, Vincent Sinasi, Alex Mushakwa, Diamond Salufu, Frederick Ntambilwa, Hoster Ntombo, Boster Samuele, John Mazila Tembwe and Alex Mafwila Liswani.


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