American murder suspect suing GRN for ‘unlawful detention’

18 Apr 2018 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 18 APR (NAMPA) – A civil lawsuit in which American murder suspect Kevin Townsend is suing the Namibian government over alleged unlawful detention in solitary confinement at the Windhoek Central Correctional Facility between July 2014 and January 2016, began in the High Court here on Wednesday.
The American is suing the Government of Namibia, the Ministry of Safety and Security, the Commissioner General of Correctional Services and the Permanent Secretary of Safety and Security for a total of N.dollars 3 million in respect of the alleged unlawful detention in a single cell.
In his evidence-in-chief at the start of the hearing on Wednesday, Townsend claimed before High Court Judge Shafimana Ueitele he was kept in solitary confinement under horrible conditions for being an American national.
Townsend claims he was inhumanely mistreated and cruelly punished when he was placed in a single cell with insufficient and poor ventilation for reasons only known to the management of the central correctional facility.
“I was unlawfully placed in a single cell and was not allowed any communication with my fellow inmates and the outside world because I am an American national. I was kept in a modified single cell with completely closed windows and the prison officials modified this single cell in my presence because I am an American citizen. I was not officially informed about the reasons why I was put in solitary confinement with horrible conditions. I was not allowed to receive visitors and not allowed to do my daily exercises,” said Townsend.
Meanwhile, Government Attorney Mkhululi Khupe, who is representing Government in the matter, informed the court that Townsend was placed in solitary confinement between 04 July 2014 and 15 January 2016 after the prison management received credible information from other trial-awaiting inmates that he and fellow countryman, co-accused Marcus Tomas were planning to escape from prison.
According to Khupe, Townsend was kept in a single cell at the time, for his own personal safety and security reasons when information and plans of their intended escape came to light.
Townsend was allegedly also behaving in a manner that was threatening the security and safety measures at the correctional facility at the time, and was occasionally involved in fights with other inmates.
Accused Tomas, however, unsuccessfully attempted to escape from the prison in November 2014, which ended in him being found hanging from the prison barbed-wire fence for about two hours, before prison and police officers rescued him.
Furthermore, Townsend claims the unlawful and wrongful detention in solitary confinement is a violation of the Namibian Constitution and a violation of the statutory provisions of the Correctional Services Act 9 of 2012.
Townsend and Tomas are on trial in the High Court for the murder of Namibian national Andre Heckmair, who was shot dead on 07 January 2011 in Windhoek.
Local defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomuinji is defending Townsend in the lawsuit.
About 10 senior prison officials will give evidence in the lawsuit on behalf of the Namibian Government.
The hearing continues Thursday.