THE state has initiated extradition proceedings in an effort to have three citizens of Iceland brought before court in Namibia to be prosecuted in connection with alleged corruption in Namibia's fishing sector.
This was part of the information which deputy prosecutor general Ed Marondedze conveyed to judge Christie Liebenberg when the men charged in the two current cases about the alleged corrupt use of fishing quotas allocated by Namibia's government made their first pretrial appearance in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.
Marondedze informed the judge that three citizens of Iceland - Adalsteinn Helgason, Egill Helgi Árnason and Ingvar Júlíusson - and five companies represented by them were not before the court.
He added that the state has started extradition proceedings to have the three Icelanders brought before court in Namibia.
Her further said he hoped by the time the pretrial proceedings in the matters are concluded in the High Court the Icelanders would also be before court, or it would be known at that stage what the way forward with respect to their involvement as prospective accused in the cases would be.
Marondedze also said the state was giving notice that it would apply for the two cases before the court to be joined into one when the accused in the two matters make their second pretrial appearance in the High Court. That appearance is scheduled to take place on 20 May.
Most of yesterday's pretrial hearing was taken up by arguments on an application by Marondedze, who asked the judge to order that no witness statements from the state's docket in one of the cases may be published in the media after the docket had been disclosed to the accused and their legal representatives.
Marondedze said after the contents of most of the docket in one of the two cases, involving the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor), had been disclosed to two of the law firms representing some of the accused, the local media began to report on some of the witness statements in that docket, which appeared to have been leaked to the media. He added that the state feared it would not be in the interest of justice if witness statements were publicly discussed before the planned trial in the High Court.
The state's request for an order forbidding media reports on witness statements in the state's dockets was opposed by the defence lawyers involved in the cases. James Diedericks, representing former attorney general and justice minister Sacky Shanghala, businessman James Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo, argued there was no basis in law for the state's application, which he slammed as "nonsensical and absurd".
The judge refused to grant the order the state asked for, and directed that a full disclosure of the two case dockets should be made to the defence by 6 May.
In one of the cases before the court, Shanghala, Hatuikulipi, Mwatelulo, former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau and his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, a former colleague of James Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, and 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them are charged with racketeering, fraud, money laundering and other alleged crimes in connection with Icelandic-owned companies' use of fishing quotas allocated to a Namibian company, Namgomar Pesca Namibia, under a supposed fisheries cooperation agreement between Namibia and Angola.
Shanghala, Esau, James and Tamson Hatuikulipi, former Fishcor chief executive officer Mike Nghipunya, Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya, Phillipus Mwapopi and 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them are also facing charges including counts of fraud, racketeering and charges under the Anti-Corruption Act in connection with Icelandic-owned companies' use of fishing quotas allocated to Fishcor.
The state is alleging that the accused in the Fishcor case diverted close to N$120 million supposed to have been paid to Fishcor for the use of fishing quotas allocated to it to themselves for their own use and benefit.
All of the accused are being held in custody.