Psychiatrists to testify in Americans’ murder trial

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Windhoek

The dates have been set for the psychiatrists who declared Marcus Thomas fit to stand trial in the Windhoek High Court to testify about their findings. The American is charged with murder. The psychiatrists were roped in after Windhoek-based psychiatrist Dr Frederika Mthoko diagnosed Thomas with an alleged neuro-cognitive disorder after he suffered a fall during a botched escape attempt from the Windhoek Correction Services facility. The State did not accept the diagnosis and asked the court to send Thomas for another round of psychiatric evaluation by neuro-psychiatrists. He was subsequently observed by clinical psychiatrist Professor Tuviah Zabow and psychiatrist Dr Reinhardt Sieberhagen, who both declared Thomas fit for trial.
Their findings were supported by clinical psychologist Willem Annandale, who found that Thomas made calculated mistakes when performing tasks – a clear indication of malingering.
Professor Zabow said there is no associated psychiatric disturbance and commented that the intellectual capacity of Thomas has “been retained with good interaction and discussion of general information. There are no clinical or pathological findings to suggest an alternative cause of cerebral anoxia (reduced supply of oxygen to the brain) for the presentation. Cognitive, behavioural and personality issues are not present,” the professor concluded.
According to Dr Sieberhagen, Thomas’ feigned symptoms are very conscious and not dissociative.
“In summary, Mr Thomas’ symptoms do not conform to any known organic, psychiatric or physical illness. His symptoms are fabricated according to his own understanding of the sequelae of his reported head injury, typical of malingering,” Sieberhagen said and concluded that Thomas is able to understand the legal procedures and give instructions to his legal counsel without reserve.
Thomas recently appointed legal counsel James Diedericks, who informed the court he would dispute the latest findings and asked the court to arrange for the experts to testify about their findings.
Sieberhagen will give his testimony on July 28 and Professor Zabow on July 29, while Annandale will testify on August 29.
Thomas and his co-accused Kevan Townsend are accused of killing Andre Heckmair with a single gunshot in the back of his head on January 7, 2011 on Gusinde Street in Klein Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet, containing 100 Swiss Franc.
They also allegedly imported two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit and possessed a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition without a license.
It is further alleged the accused removed a notebook from police custody after the police had seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise disposed of some of the pages in the book.
The trial is presided over by Judge Christi Liebenberg with Advocate Antonia Verhoef acting on behalf of the State. Townsend is represented by Mbanga Siyomunji on instructions from the legal aid directorate.

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