Ex-NWR boss corruption trial sees another delay

11 Mar 2015 12:50pm
WINDHOEK, 11 MAR (NAMPA) - The continuation of the corruption trial of former Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Managing Director Tobie Aupindi and his Italian co-accused Antonio Di Savino saw another delay on Wednesday.
The accused businessmen made another appearance in the Windhoek Magistrate's Court along Luderitz Street before Magistrate Jarmaine Muchali, when they were informed that their trial will resume on 02 July 2015.
The trial was postponed because the parties involved in the matter are still awaiting for the High Court to hand down a ruling on Aupindi and Di Savino’s application for the recusal of Windhoek Magistrate Helvi Kauna Shilemba from the trial, which is still pending with the High Court.
Public Prosecutor Erastus Hatutale appeared for the State and defence lawyers, Advocate Richard Metcalfe and Louis Du Pisani for the accused persons.
On 24 February 2012, the two accused had suffered a heavy blow when the Windhoek Magistrate's Court dismissed their application for discharge.
The two defence lawyers brought an urgent application for the discharge of their clients shortly after Public Prosecutor Arrie Husselmann, who appeared for the prosecution during the hearing of the discharge application, closed the State's case.
This unsuccessful discharge application was brought before court in terms of Section 174 of the Criminal Procedures' Act.
Metcalfe and Du Pisani wanted the court to discharge their clients on the grounds that thus far, there had been no prima-facie evidence presented before court to indicate that the two men were involved in the alleged corruption as the State claims.
Husselmann, however, asked the court to dismiss the discharge application, arguing that the two accused persons should be put on their defences and should testify before court.
The 36-year-old Aupindi and his co-accused Di Savino, whose age was not given, had already entered not guilty pleas at the start of their corruption trial on 06 February 2012.
In the matter, it is alleged that Di Savino paid for a N.dollars 50 000 swimming pool which was installed at Aupindi's home in return for tenders for the refurbishment of the parastatal's resorts.
The two men each pleaded not guilty to a number of charges under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2003, namely a main count of allegedly corruptly providing false information to an authorised officer, and a count of attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
They also pleaded not guilty to the alternative count on the main charge.
The duo entered their pleas as per Section 119 of Namibia's Criminal Procedures Act, and as per the instructions from their respective defence lawyers.
Evidence contained in a summary of substantial facts in the charge-sheet have it that the former NWR boss had provided false information to an investigating officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), William Lloyd, by stating that he had paid N.dollars 50 000 in cash to a local company LIC Pools for a swimming pool installed at his house in 25 Kestrel Street, Hochland Park.
The allegation against Aupindi is that he did not pay for the swimming pool himself, and that Di Savino in fact paid for the pool as a kickback in exchange for tile tenders awarded to his co-accused for work done at NWR resorts.
Di Savino, like Aupindi, faces charges of providing false information to an ACC investigator, and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
The former NWR chief left the parastatal at the end of December 2010, four months before his contract was due to expire.
Media reports at the time claimed that he received a 'golden handshake' of about N.dollars 4,5 million.
Aupindi and Di Savino are free on bail, and their bail was also extended until 02 July this year for the handing down of the ruling on the application for recusal.