23 January 2018

Namibia: Genocide Case in Court This Week

Photo: Wikipedia
Central figure Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha, the Oberbefehlshaber (Supreme Commander) of the protection force in German South West Africa, in Keetmanshoop during the Herero uprising, 1904.

Germany is expected to appear in New York City's District Court on Thursday, or risk losing the case to the descendants of the genocide victims by default.

This comes after the German government pointedly rejected summons to appear at a pre-trial conference where information would be reviewed before the case goes to trial.

Just last week, the German embassy in Windhoek issued a statement, where they pointed out that they had refused the latest summons delivered in November.

The case was launched in January last year, and would within this week make possible progress to trial stage should Germany send a representative, which failure could lead to a default judgement for the Ovaherero/Nama groups.

Germany's first engagement on the case was about two weeks ago when through their lawyer, Jeffrey Harris, they launched a motion to dismiss the case because of an alleged lack of jurisdiction, which was terminated by Judge Laura Taylor Swain last Monday.

Both the Nama and Ovaherero, led by paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro and Swapo parliamentarian Ida Hoffman, launched the case last year January in a bid to fight for inclusion at the negotiating table since neither Germany nor the Namibian government have been receptive of their requests.

When asked about the impending court date, the patron of the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Genocide Forum (OGF), Festus Muundjua, said it is premature to say what the possible outcome could be but there is anticipation of what the outcome could be.

The OGF's secretary, Kambanda Veii, said the fact that they had been able to take the "mighty German" government to court is in itself a milestone.

She said although the court proceedings can be unpredictable, Germany will have to appear in court this week.

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