New trial date for treason accused

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Roland Routh

Windhoek-Following their unsuccessful appeal to the Supreme Court, the trial of the seven men still facing various counts of high treason, sedition, public violence and the illegal importation of weapons and ammunition will start on July 4 to July 14 in the Windhoek High Court. T

This was confirmed on Monday this week by Acting Judge Petrus Unengu when the men made another appearance before him. Their trial has been plagued by numerous postponements since being referred back to the High Court to start afresh after a successful appeal to the Supreme Court in July 2014. The Supreme Court set aside the convictions and sentences ranging from 30 to 32 years for convictions of high treason in July of 2007. It is alleged the accused took part in a conspiracy aimed at overthrowing the Namibian government in the former Caprivi Region between September 1998 and December 2003.

The trial hit another snag after Judge Unengu dismissed their jurisdiction challenge in November 2014 and renowned human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe petitioned the Supreme Court, but only secured the freedom of Boster Mubuyaeta Samuele.

Tjombe successfully petitioned the chief justice for an appeal on the ruling by Judge Unengu that Namibian courts have jurisdiction over the men, in the process securing the freedom of Samuele, but failed to convince five judges of appeal that the other accused deserved the same.

Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President Petrus Damaseb with Chief Justice Peter Shivute, Justice of Appeal Dave Smuts, Acting Justice of Appeal Fred Chomba and Acting Justice of Appeal Yvonne Mokgoro concurring found that the Namibian security forces abducted Samuele from Botswana illegally and as such Namibian courts have no jurisdiction to try him on any of the charges preferred against him.

They ordered a permanent stay of prosecution against him, which will have the effect that the accused may not be prosecuted again on any of the charges on which he was indicted in the present prosecution.

But, the deputy chief justice said, the same cannot be said for Progress Kenyoka Munuma Munuma, Shine Samulandela Samulandela, Manuel Manepelo Makendano, Alex Sinjabata Mushakwa, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, Hoster Simasiku Ntombo and John Mazila Tembwe.

He found that the seven accused were brought on Namibian territory by agents of Botswana where they were surrendered to Namibian government officials.

The seven men petitioned the chief justice to hear the appeal after High Court Judge Petrus Unengu first dismissed their application on jurisdiction and then refused an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court.

They claimed they were abducted from Botswana and brought to Namibia by officials from the Namibian government with the full knowledge and cooperation of the Botswana government.

The accused except for Frederick Isaka Ntambila – who was arrested in the Zambezi Region, then Caprivi Region, questioned the High Court’s jurisdiction over them.

The remaining eight accused then fired Tjombe and had to wait for another legal representative to be appointed for them by the Department of Legal Aid. Eventually local lawyer Ilse Aggenbach was appointed to represent six of them while Jorge Neves was appointed to represent two.

State Advocate Neville Mawambo appears on behalf of the State.
The accused remain in custody.

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