By Roland Routh
WINDHOEK – A last-ditch effort by a convicted murderer to have his conviction squashed ended in dismal failure in the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Justices of Appeal Sylvester Mainga, Chief Justice Peter Shivute and Acting Judge of the Supreme Court, Judge President Petrus Damaseb, dismissed the appeal of Claasen Eiseb against a conviction of murder and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH) he received in the Otjiwarongo Regional Court.
He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the murder of 17-year-old Jacques Sammy Francis on 1 January, 2005.
He pleaded not guilty to both charges, but admitted that he stabbed the deceased in the neck and scratched the complainant on the arm in self-defence.
Eiseb had lodged an appeal against his conviction and sentence in the High Court which was dismissed as was his subsequent application for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court.
Not one to be dissuaded, Eiseb then formulated an application to the chief justice for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence on the count of murder which was granted.
His grounds for appeal comprised arguments that the High Court failed to determine that he did not have any intention to kill the deceased and that he was convicted wrongly.
He contended that he should have been convicted of culpable homicide instead of murder.
He further stated the High Court failed to reject the post-mortem report as hearsay evidence and inadmissible and that the State failed to call the medical practitioner who conducted the post-mortem. He further said that the High Court failed to find that the deceased was the cause of his own death. When the matter was heard in the Supreme Court, Eiseb’s state funded lawyer, Steve Rukoro, concentrated on the fact that the autopsy report was not confirmed under oath by the medical doctor who performed the autopsy.
Deputy Prosecutor General Antonia Verhoef countered that the autopsy was never in dispute in the original trial.
Justice Mainga who wrote the judgment agreed with the State’s argument and said the failure of Eiseb’s legal representative in the original trial to object to the admissibility of the autopsy report was a clear indication that they accepted the contents.
He said Eiseb himself was not challenging the facts of the report, but his murder conviction only.
According to Justice Mainga, the sole question to be answered was whether Eiseb intended to kill the deceased.
“Directing the attack at such a vulnerable part of the body, appellant had the intention to kill the deceased,” stated Justice Mainga who further remarked, “I am satisfied he was correctly convicted.”