Judge Christi Liebenberg yesterday issued a warrant of arrest for an unknown elderly man who pretended to be a neuro-psychiatrist going by the name ‘Professor’ Tuviah Zabow.
This happened during the stage of the trial where the findings of the real psychiatrist Professor Tuviah Zabow – and of another psychiatrist who examined the mental state of American murder suspect Marcus Thomas –came under the spotlight.
Zabow and local psychiatrist Dr Reinhardt Sieberhagen declared Thomas fit for trial after the State rejected Windhoek psychiatrist Dr Frederika Mthoko’s diagnosis that Thomas suffered from a neuro-cognitive disorder, as a result of a fall during a botched escape attempt.
The State did not accept the diagnosis and asked the court to send Thomas for another round of psychiatric evaluations by neuro-psychiatrists and he was observed by clinical psychiatrists Zabow and Sieberhagen who declared Thomas fit for trial.
Both Zabow and Sieberhagen are witnesses for the court and not for the State or defence.
After the fake Zabow was sworn in, he like a pro went through the report the real Zabow compiled and took credit for the report. “Yes, it is the report I compiled on the mental capacity of Mr Thomas,” he told the court.
But his confidence did not last long. As soon as the defence counsels James Diedericks and Mbanga Siyomunji started with their cross-examination the cracks started to show.
At first the fake Zabow could not provide answers related to his findings and then told the court he was not involved directly with the examination of Thomas, but that his “staff” did the observations and reported back to him.
When he was requested to provide the names and contact numbers of the “staff” he asked the court for a brief remand to enable him to collect his “things”.
That was however the last sighting of him.
After the restart the court was informed by defence counsel Diedericks that his client, Thomas, informed him that he did not recognise the witness as the person who interviewed him. Judge Liebenberg stated his office was also supplied with the same information.
He then issued a warrant of arrest for the fake Zabow and ordered the police to launch a full investigation.
At that stage Dr Sieberhagen took the stand and confirmed the findings he made in his report.
According to Sieberhagen the feigned symptoms of Thomas 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 sequel of his reported head injury, typical of malingering” Sieberhagen said, concluding that Thomas is able to understand legal procedures and able to give instructions to his legal counsel without reserve.
The real Professor Zabow is expected to explain his findings today.
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 07, 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Franc.
They also allegedly imported two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit and allegedly possessed a 7.65mm pistol and ammunition without a licence.
It is further alleged that the accused removed a notebook from police custody after the police seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise disposed of some of the pages in the book.
Advocate Antonia Verhoef appears for the State.