15 November 2017

Namibia: Confessions Disputed in Murder Conspiracy Trial

THREE of the six people accused of having been involved in a conspiracy to murder the husband of one of them in March 2015 are now disputing confessions that they made shortly after their arrests.

The defence lawyers representing Annastancia Lubinda, David Kondjara and Donald Hindjou in their trial in the Windhoek High Court informed acting judge Johanna Salionga yesterday that their clients were disputing that confessions and other statements recorded after their arrests had been made freely and voluntarily.

According to the three accused, they were not properly informed of their rights, and specifically their rights to have legal representation and that they did not have to incriminate themselves, and were assaulted by police officers before they made the alleged confessions, defence lawyers Milton Engelbrecht, Tuna Nhinda, and Meriam Kenaruzo informed the judge on behalf of Lubinda, Kondjara and Hindjou, respectively.

Engelbrecht and Nhinda also said Lubinda and Kondjara were not in a sound and sober mind when they made the statements, and Engelbrecht added that Lubinda had been influenced by a police officer to make the statements that the prosecution now wanted to use as evidence in their trial.

Lubinda (35), Kondjara (36), Hindjou (28), David Matali (47), Abiud Uazeua (37) and Dollam Tjitjahuma (29) denied guilt on all counts when they went on trial on charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances last week.

The state is alleging that they hatched a plot to murder Lubinda's husband, Peter Riscoh Muleke (36), and that they carried out their plan during the night of 29 to 30 March 2015 by killing Muleke in the Goreangab Dam area in Windhoek. Muleke was allegedly stoned to death before his killers also stole his cellphone and its SIM card.

The trial moved on to a side-hearing to determine if the prosecution will be permitted to use the statements made by Lubinda, Kondjara and Hindjou as evidence in the trial after their defence lawyers placed their objections on record yesterday.

The first witness to testify in the trial-within-a-trial, Windhoek-based divisional magistrate Rina Horn, told the judge that Lubinda was brought to her office on 2 April 2015 to make a statement.

Horn said she explained her rights to Lubinda - including the right to have legal representation and that she was not obliged to make any statement. When Lubinda was asked if she understood her right to legal representation, including the right to apply for state-funded legal aid, her answer was recorded as: "Yes, I understand, and I want to tell what is on my heart and what I did, before I talk to my lawyer."

Lubinda did not make any report about having been assaulted, threatened or promised benefits if she made a statement, but when she was asked if she expected any benefits from making a statement, she said she hoped to be granted bail and be given a lenient sentence, Horn also testified.

Lubinda was calm and not anxious, but at times she had tears in her eyes during the four hours that it took to record her statement, Horn said.

The trial is continuing.

State advocate Marthino Olivier is prosecuting. All of the six accused have remained in custody since being arrested at the start of April 2015.


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