Windhoek – Thousands of Namibians – all waiting with bated breath – yesterday breathed a huge sigh of relief upon learning that boxer Junias Jonas had been released from police custody where he was held on unfounded allegations of sexual harassment – and that he made it on time to the weigh-in.
But then again, despite the good news of the boxer’s release from prison where he was taken on Monday on suspicions of having sexually harassed a maid at the Athletes’ Village in Rio, the biggest question on many lips was how did the Namibia National Olympic Committee (NNOC) manage to secure his discharge and what were the conditions around his freeing.
Communication coming from the Namibian camp at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was that the NNOC, in collaboration with the Namibian Embassy in Brazil, managed to secure Junias’ release through a successful habeas corpus application and not on bail as many assumed.
The difference between a habeas corpus application and an ordinary bail application is that when one is released on a habeas corpus he is granted physical freedom into the hands of the responsible person or entity until the conclusion of his trial – the responsible person or entity in this case is the Namibian Embassy in Brazil.
The writ habeas corpus is an important instrument in safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action. As in the case of Junias, he could have been imprisoned unlawfully without any recourse for securing his release.
However, the habeas corpus isn’t meant to determine whether the detainee is guilty of the crime of which he is accused but is merely a call for an examination of the legality of his imprisonment.
Unlike the habeas corpus, the ordinary bail application allows an imprisoned accused to be released when a specified amount of security is deposited or pledged, such as cash to ensure the accused’s appearance in court when ordered. In civil cases, an accused has a right to be released on bail before the trial.
The 22-year old Namibian pugilist was last night expected to fight against French opponent Hassen Amzile in the men’s lightweight category (64kg). It is however not clear how long his trial will last.