Namibia: American Murder Accused Gets New Lawyer

Windhoek — The murder trial of the two Americans accused of the assassin like murder of Andre Heckmair in Windhoek in 2011 was yesterday postponed to June 16 to 20 for the continuation of their trial after Legal Aid agreed to avail another lawyer for Marcus Thomas.

Titus Ipumbu who was appointed by Legal Aid to represent Thomas informed Windhoek High Court Judge Christi Liebenberg that he needs time to read through the record and to consult with his new client.

The Judge granted him the postponement. The trial that has been coming from 2014 has seen many hiccups which started with a botched escape attempt by Thomas which caused him to hang upside down on a fence for at least two hours.

After he was freed from the fence, Thomas claimed when he fell on his head he had suffered brain injuries that made him unable to follow court proceedings.

This caused his then lawyer, Werner van Rensburg to ask the judge for an order to have Thomas observed by a psychiatrist.

He was then diagnosed by Dr Frederika Mthoko with neuro-cognitive disorder, apparently caused by the fall he suffered during escape attempt from the Windhoek Correctional Facility in November 2014.

The diagnosis was however disputed by the State represented by Deputy Prosecutor General Antonia Verhoef and after further mental observation three mental experts found that Thomas faked his condition.

The trial which has so far only had two State witnesses testify will now in all likelihood continued unabatedly after Judge Liebenberg issued stern warning that he will not allow any more unnecessary delays.

Thomas and his co-accused Kevan Townsend are accused of killing Heckmair with a single gunshot in the back of his head on January 7, 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek and robbing him of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Franc.

They are facing one count of murder, one count of robbery with aggravating circumstances, three counts of contravening the Ammunitions Act and one count of defeating or obstructing or attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.

The State alleges in count one that they killed Heckmair, who is the son of the owners of the Cattle Baron Steak Ranch, by shooting him assassin style in the back of his head on January 07, 2011 at Gusinde Street in Windhoek.

In count two, the State alleges that they robbed Heckmair of his cellphone and wallet containing at 100 Swiss Franc.

Count three and its alternative relates to the alleged importation of two 9mm pistol barrels without a permit or alternatively possession of the 9mm barrels without a license.

Count four is the alleged possession of a 7.65mm pistol without a license and count 5 the unlawful possession of ammunition.

On count, six they are charged with the unlawful and with the intent to defeat or obstruct the course of justice removed a notebook from police custody after the police seized it as an exhibit and/or burned, destroyed or otherwise dispose of some of the pages in the book.

Townsend is represented by Mbanga Siyomunji on instructions of Legal Aid and both accused remains in custody.

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