Namibia: Date Set for Hearing to Combine Fishrot Cases

AN APPLICATION by the state to have the two Fishrot fishing quotas corruption cases now pending in the Windhoek High Court joined into one matter is due to be heard on 12 July.

This date was confirmed when the 10 men charged in the two cases made their latest pretrial court appearance before judge Christie Liebenberg yesterday.

Defence lawyers Milton Engelbrecht, Trevor Brockerhoff and Jermaine Muchali, representing former National Fishing Corporation of Namibia chief executive Mike Nghipunya, Ricardo Gustavo and Nigel van Wyk, respectively, have indicated to the court that they will be opposing the state's application to have the two cases joined together.

Ronald Kurz, representing former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, his business partner James Hatuikulipi and Pius Mwatelulo, also informed the judge yesterday that they will be opposing the application.

Defence lawyer Richard Metcalfe, who is representing former fisheries and marine resources minister Bernhard Esau and his son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, previously told the judge they would not be opposing the prosecution's request to have the two cases consolidated to be heard as a single trial.

Metcalfe also told Liebenberg yesterday that his clients are bothered by delays in the matters. He noted that the state previously informed the court it wanted to have other accused extradited to Namibia to stand trial with the accused currently before the court.

The other prospective accused include three citizens of Iceland - fishing company executives Adalsteinn Helgason, Egill Helgi Árnason and Ingvar Júlíusson - and five companies represented by them.

However, in terms of the laws of Iceland, citizens of that country cannot be extradited to face criminal charges in other countries, Metcalfe said.

He added that lawyer Marén de Klerk, whom the state wants to indict as an accused in one of the cases, has made a statement to the Anti Corruption Commission, and that in terms of the Anti-Corruption Act he cannot be prosecuted unless he is accused of having made a false statement to the ACC.

An attempt to have De Klerk extradited to Namibia would take time, while he could actually be used as a witness instead of being charged, Metcalfe said. Time was being wasted, he remarked.

In one of the cases before the court, Shanghala, James Hatuikulipi, Mwatelulo, Esau, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Gustavo, 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them, and Van Wyk 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, Nghipunya, Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya, Phillipus Mwapopi and 11 corporate entities and trusts connected to them are also facing charges that include 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.

With the state's application to be argued on 12 July, the 10 accused men are scheduled to have a next pretrial hearing on 22 July.

They are being held in custody.

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