WINDHOEK, 07 DEC (NAMPA) -
Sentencing in the case of 30 men who were in September this year found guilty of high treason and other related charges, begins on Tuesday. High Court Judge Elton Hoff who is presiding over the high treason trial will start handing down the sentences of the 30 convicted men as from 09h00 on Tuesday morning.
On 14 September this year, the men were found guilty of 278 charges, including a count of high treason, nine charges of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder in connection with the failed attempts to secede the Caprivi Region from the rest of Namibia.
They opted not to personally give the evidence in mitigation of sentencing during the month of October this year. Their evidence was brought before court by their respective State-sponsored defence lawyers of Patrick Kauta, George Neves, Clive Kavendjii, Profysen Muluti, Ilse Agenbach, Jonathan Samukange, Victor Kachaka, Percy McNally and Hennie Kruger.
Each of the convicted men asked the court not to impose long custodial terms and to consider the 16 years they spent in prison while awaiting the finalisation of their trial.
A local human rights expert and the Executive Director of NamRights, Phil Ya Nangoloh, who also testified on behalf of the 30 convicted men, has strongly pleaded with the court to hand down suspended sentences. However, a prosecution team led by Deputy Prosecutor-General Taswald July and State Advocate Amize Adams, want stiff and lengthy prison terms to be imposed in the case.
In September this year, during the first phase of the process of sentencing, evidence of a video recording by former member of the National Assembly (NA) and United Democratic Party (UDP) leader, Mishake Muyongo was also played before court in which he took full responsibility for the secessionist attacks on Government installations in the then Caprivi (now Zambezi) Region on 02 August 1999.
In the interview material filmed by a Danish television company and aired on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Muyongo openly acknowledged that the attacks at Katima Mulilo, in which eight Namibians lost their lives, were carried out by members of the Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA) - a military wing of the UDP.
During the interview, Muyongo said soldiers belonging to the CLA, of which he was the commander-in-chief at the time, were responsible for the bloody attacks on several Government-owned installations at Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi Region on 02 August 1999. The UDP is now banned as a political organisation in Namibia.
On 14 September this year, the 30 men, including former member of the NA Geoffrey Mwilima, were all found guilty as charged by the State. On the same day, Judge Hoff acquitted and released another 35 men after the State failed to prove their involvement beyond a reasonable doubt in the failed plot to secede the region from the rest of the country.
The men each face 278 charges, including a count of high treason, nine charges of murder and 240 counts of attempted murder in connection with the failed secession attempts. All of them remain in custody at the Windhoek Correctional Facility (former Windhoek Central Prison)'s holding cells for the continuation of the process of sentencing.
State-appointed defence lawyers Kauta, Agenbach, Neves, Kavendjii, Muluti, Samukange, Kachaka, McNally and Kruger are representing the convicted men on the instructions of the Justice Ministry's Directorate of Legal Aid. The 30 men were separately charged with taking part in the attacks at Katima Mulilo, or providing support to the so-called Caprivi Liberation Army (CLA).
The convicts took part in attacks on the Katima Mulilo Police Station; the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's (NBC) regional office; Wenela Border Post; and Mpacha Military Base and Airport.
They were said to have been under the leadership of Muyongo. Muyongo and many other alleged leaders of the CLA fled to neighbouring Botswana before the attacks and after the Namibian security forces discovered their underground movement before enforcing tightened security measures in the Caprivi Region.
Muyongo and Mafwe Chief Boniface Mamili are now exiled in Denmark after Namibia pressured Botswana to send them back home to stand trial. (NAMPA) SKE/CT/AS