21 January 2013

Namibia: Lawyer Sent Packing After Murder Verdict

DISSATISFIED with the verdict in his trial, murder convict Cornelius Ganuseb decided to dismiss his lawyer in the High Court in Windhoek on Friday.

Ganuseb told Judge Kato van Niekerk that he does not want the services of lawyer Hipura Ujaha any more, and that he will ask the Directorate of Legal Aid to instruct another defence counsel to represent him in the rest of his trial.

This is in light of Judge Van Niekerk's judgement, in which she found Ganuseb guilty of murder on Wednesday, Ujaha indicated to the judge.

Ganuseb (34) was accused of murdering an employee of the Ministry of Defence, John Justice Links, in a stabbing incident at a bar at Gobabis on the evening of June 3 2010.

The 28-year-old Links was stabbed about 15 times with a knife, the prosecution was alleging.

According to an autopsy report provided to the court, Links died from two stab wounds to his chest. He was also stabbed on his head, right shoulder, four times in his neck, and three times in his abdomen.

A home-made knife with a blade that is about 16,5 centimetres long was alleged to have been the murder weapon.

In a plea explanation given at the start of his trial, Ganuseb admitted that he had stabbed Links twice during a quarrel between the two of them, but claimed that the wounds he inflicted were not fatal. He also claimed that other people had also been involved in the incident, and that they had also stabbed Links.

Judge Van Niekerk rejected Ganuseb's claim of having stabbed Links only twice as false beyond reasonable doubt in her judgement.

She said in her view the evidence was overwhelming that Ganuseb had been the only person that stabbed Links that evening.

The prosecution's witnesses who saw the incident told the court that Ganuseb and Links were involved in a quarrel, that Ganuseb challenged Links to a fight, and that Links tried to run away when Ganuseb pulled out a knife.

Ganuseb pursued Links and started to stab him, they told the court. He continued stabbing Links after he had fallen to the ground, they also claimed.

Ganuseb was also charged with a count of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm for having stabbed a colleague of his, Brussel Matroos, in the leg when Matroos tried to intervene as Ganuseb continued stabbing Links. Judge Van Niekerk acquitted him on that charge, after noting that the stabbing did not appear to have been directed at Matroos.

Ganuseb was working at a building site at Gobabis at the time, the court also heard.

Following the withdrawal of Ujaha from the trial, Ganuseb is due to return to court on February 14, when he is expected to inform the court whether a replacement defence lawyer has been instructed to represent him.

He is being kept in custody.

State advocate Ethel Ndlovu is prosecuting.

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