Windhoek-High Court Judge Dinah Usiku, with Acting High Court Judge Johanna Salionga concurring, yesterday reserved judgment on whether to allow rape convict Vincent Likoro, to appeal his conviction in the Supreme Court.
The accused, who is a former special advisor to the then Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus Naruseb, was convicted and sentenced on a charge of rape that happened in July of 2013 during an official trip to the Zambezi Region.
Likoro’s appeal in the Windhoek High Court against his conviction was already dismissed by Judges Christi Liebenberg and Dinah Usiku on December 8 last year when his bail was cancelled and it was ordered that he be brought before the regional court in Katima Mulilo where he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2016 for committal.
He is now seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. Should his application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court fail, he still has the option to petition the Chief Justice to allow him to appeal.
In his notice of appeal, Likoro through his legal representative, Advocate Louis Botes instructed by Jan Wessels, says Judge Liebenberg was wrong when he found that the appeal against conviction is without prospects of success and refused condonation for the late filing of the appeal.
Likoro claims his lawyer during the trial, Kennedy Haraseb, failed to put his defense to the State witnesses properly which infringed on his right to a fair trial.
“The learned judges erred in law and/or on the facts to conclude that the cumulative effect of the alleged failures or omissions or conduct by the appellant’s legal representative in his conducting of the defense of the appellant, falls short of constituting an irregularity that would necessitate vitiating the conviction on appeal,” Botes argued.
He further said that the judges’ failure to find Likoro’s legal representative in the main trial did not amount to a proper defense, which constitutes an irregularity of such a profound and material nature that it infringed upon his right to a fair trial, inclusive of his right to effective legal representation.
They further argued that despite the appeal judges accepting that Likoro did not fully consult with his erstwhile legal representative was satisfied that Likoro was acquainted with the law and legal principles and that he was clearly satisfied with the manner in which his defense was conducted, while there “clearly does not exist an iota of evidence that supports such a conclusion or inference, let alone a reasonable one”.
In fact, Botes argued that Likoro testified at the start of the State’s cross-examination that he told his lawyer at the beginning of the trial “everything what he have told the court during his evidence in chief, which answer was not challenged by the State and in fact also accepted by the court”.
“As such, the judges of appeal also erred in law and/or fact in not finding that the learned magistrate, without any further inquiry in respect of the reasons therefore, could have rejected the appellant’s version as false beyond reasonable doubt on the basis that his version(s) was a recent fabrication,” he said.
According to Botes, the magistrate should have interfered when he realised that the legal representative of Likoro during the trial, Kennedy Haraseb, was not up to the task. Instead, Botes said, the magistrate and indeed the appeal judges came to an uncorroborated conclusion that Likoro, being an intelligent person is trained in law and there was an onus on him to see that his defense was properly put to the witnesses.
State Advocate Dominic Lisulo gave notice that he opposes the application.