Treason trial judgment postponed

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WINDHOEK – Judge Elton Hoff yesterday announced the date for the finalisation of the longest running trial in Namibian history – the treason trial is deferred to August 24 this year.

The judge last year set down the date provisionally for yesterday, but said that it is not fixed as he has voluminous records to go through.

At the time the judge said “as you all will realise, I have to study the evidence before me as well as the arguments all of you so eloquently delivered”.

Currently, 65 accused remain from the original 122 after Judge Hoff discharged 43 of the accused after the State closed its case and the defense applied for a Rule 174 discharge.

Judge Hoff did find there is enough evidence against the 65 currently in the dock, including former member of parliament Geoffrey Mwilima, for them to answer to the charges.

The accused were initially charged with 278 counts and 379 State witnesses testified on the charges including high treason, nine counts of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder.

The trial also took its toll on the accused with 22 of them having died while awaiting trial.

The charges stem from an alleged failed attempt to secede the then Caprivi from Namibia.

Eight people died in an attack by the rebel group (that is now defunct) the so-called Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) on government installations on August 2, 1999 in Katima.

The local police station, military base, field force base, border posts and the NBC offices were attacked and the State claims that the attacks were carried out with the aim to use violence to take over the region.

All accused denied guilt at the start of their trial in a special constituted High Court in Grootfontein in August 2004.
After Judge Hoff ordered that the 65 accused are liable to answer to the charges against them in his Rule 174 ruling 31 of the accused testified in their own defense while 34 opted to remain silent.

The accused will have been in custody for almost 16 years when Judge Hoff makes his ruling.

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