Ruling on judge's recusal from Teko trial in November

20 Aug 2014 14:00pm
WINDHOEK, 20 AUG (NAMPA) – A ruling on an application for a judge's recusal by three people being tried for alleged fraud committed at the Ministry of Finance involving N.dollars 120 million, will be made known in November.
Namibians Teckla Lameck, 48, and Jerobeam Mokaxwa, 30, as well as Chinese national Yang Fan, 39, all want presiding High Court Judge Maphios Cheda to recuse himself from their alleged fraud and corruption trial.
The ruling will be handed down on 14 November this year.
This was said by High Court Judge Cheda himself shortly after he listened to submissions and counter-arguments by both the applicants' defence lawyer, Advocate Raymond Heathcote (Senior Counsel-SC) and prosecution representative, State Advocate Jack Eixab on Wednesday morning.
In his submissions, Heathcote asked the judge not to take the move by the three applicants as personal attacks on his integrity and credibility.
“The State should not be allowed to lead and present the production of evidence before court which were obtained from the applicants through searches and seizures' warrants of their premises and properties issued by a Windhoek Magistrate in 2009. The evidence of searches and seizures' warrants should not be used against the three applicants in trial,” said Heatcote.
State Advocate Eixab strongly objected to the applicants' submissions by saying that their application did not indicate or state credible grounds that would allow the presiding judge to recuse himself from the trial.
“There are no proper grounds stated in this application. In the result, this application should be dismissed by the court,” he said in his counter-argument.
The application by the trio was brought before the judge himself by Windhoek-based defence lawyer Heathcote, acting on the instructions of the Windhoek-based law firm of the Sisa Namandje legal practitioners.
The trio raised a number of issues, including the manner in which the presiding judge is allegedly handling the trial.
They also want the trial to start afresh.
“We, Teckla Lameck, Jerobeam Mokaxwa and Yang Fan would like High Court Judge Maphios Cheda to recuse himself from presiding over the trial of our alleged fraud case.
We want all the proceedings so far in our case to be stopped and, hereby, quashed. We want this court to issue an order that this trial should begin 'de novo' or afresh before another judge on a date to be determined by the Registrar of the High Court,” their application reads.
This application follows after the three accused persons' defence lawyers Namandje, Advocate Gerson Hinda (SC) and Gerson Narib found out that the State intends to lead evidence which had been obtained from their clients, pursuant to certain search and seizure warrants and pursuant to certain summonses, which in their view are null and void and render the evidence obtained pursuant to such warrants inadmissible before court.
“The issue of the legality of the search warrants is thus central and crucial to the three applicants' defence, and can never be decided upon without a full and proper hearing on the issue,” further reads the application.
In the trial proper, Lameck, a former Public Service Commission (PSC) member; Mokaxwa, who is Lameck’s business partner in the Teko Trading company; as well as Yang are accused of having defrauded the Ministry of Finance of some N.dollars 120 million in 2009 in dubious circumstances.
They have each already denied all allegations set out in the 18 charges of fraud against them when they entered not-guilty pleas at the beginning of their trial in April last year (2013).
They have also each handed in a detailed statement containing explanations of their pleas.
The two Namibians are free on bail of N.dollars 50 000 each, while Yang is free on bail of N.dollars 1 million.
The three accused persons were arrested on 08 and 09 July 2009 by officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission in connection with the alleged scam, through which the Ministry of Finance bought security-scanning equipment from a Chinese company.
Chief Public Prosecutor Danie Small and Eixab, being assisted by prominent Windhoek-based attorney Jan Wessels, are appearing for the State in the trial proper.