Psychiatrist says Tomas fit to stand trial

28 Jul 2016 14:40pm
WINDHOEK, 28 JUL (NAMPA) - Evidence by three medical experts who found that key American murder suspect Marcus Kevin Tomas is fit to stand trial, kicked-off in the High Court here on Thursday.
Three private medical experts – psychiatrists Annandale Willem, Tuviah Zabon and Reinhardt Sieberhagen - have each observed Tomas after a request by the State and their findings in respect of his status of mental fitness were made public in the High Court in May this year (2016).
Clinical psychiatrist, South African Professor Tuviah Zabon was the first of three medical experts (psychiatrists) called to the witness stand to explain their evaluation report on Tomas' mental fitness.
Zabon confirmed his findings before presiding High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg that accused Tomas is fit to stand trial and fully capable to comprehend and follow court proceedings without problems.
“I have fully evaluated the accused person and during the evaluation process, I found no signs of any psychiatric disturbance in respect of his mental fitness status. The accused person can fully understand and follow the proceedings of the trial of his case without problems,” said Zabon as he confirmed his findings before court on Thursday morning.
Zabon also confirmed before court that accused Tomas does not need to undergo a neurological examination as he is claiming at the moment.
“I am not an expert in neurological observation. But, on the basis of the material of the assessment I have done on the accused's mental fitness status, Tomas does not need a neurological observation,” Zabon told the court.
He further confirmed before court that Tomas was experiencing some difficulties in answering the questions during the assessment process.
The findings that Tomas is fit to stand trial and can fully comprehend court proceedings angered the American, who said he wanted a proper neurological examination to be done by a neurologist instead of the psychiatric observation by the three psychiatrists.
Tomas insists he is suffering from memory loss due to brain damage sustained during his failed attempt to escape from the Windhoek Correctional Facility in 2014, when he jumped from a tree and landed on the barbed wire of the prison fence, hanging with his head downwards.
The presentation of the expert evidence continues on Friday with Sieberhagen expected to explain the findings of his report.
Tomas, 29, alongside accomplice and fellow countryman Kevin Donell Townsend, 27, is on trial in the High Court for the alleged killing of Windhoek resident Andre Heckmair in January 2011.
The duo each face six charges ranging from murder; robbery with aggravating circumstances; the unlawful importation of a firearm into Namibia; the illegal possession of a firearm; the illegal possession of ammunition; and attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice.
Heckmair was found dead behind the wheel of a Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up in a cul-de-sac in Klein Windhoek residential area on 07 January 2011.
The two Americans were arrested on 13 January 2011 in Windhoek and remain in police custody.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Antonia Verhoef is appearing for the prosecution and State-funded defence lawyers of Mbanga Siyomuinji and James Diedericks are defending the two American citizens.