News and Information
One witness down in treason trial
|September 14, 2004
| WERNER MENGES
THE first State witness in the Caprivi high treason trial in the High Court at Grootfontein completed his testimony yesterday.
It took five days on the witness stand for Detective Warrant Officer Daniel Mouton, a crime scene investigator, to complete his evidence.
Mouton's testimony was aimed at giving Judge Elton Hoff's court a scene-setting overview of the case.
The identity of the State's next witness was still being kept under wraps yesterday.
However, immediate indications from defence lawyers was that the prosecution could have another fight on its hands if it planned to call one of its "protected witnesses" today.
The defence lawyers feel they have not been given enough time to properly consult with their clients on such a witness's expected testimony.
These are witnesses whose identities are being kept secret until shortly before they testify.
It forms part of a strategy that is, according to the prosecution, intended to protect these witnesses from possible threats, intimidation or retribution before they give evidence.
From the State's side the indications were that a "protected witness" might indeed be the next person to be called to the stand.
As Mouton, whose testimony stretched over three weeks, took his leave from the trial, the last stages of his evidence introduced a new, and probably frequently recurring, dimension to the violence that held the Caprivi in its grip during August 1999.
That is after some of the defence lawyers used their chance to cross-examine him and make their first forays into the minefield of accusations of assault, torture and ill-treatment of separatist suspects that the Police face in this case.
One of the scenes that Mouton photographed after he was dispatched to Katima Mulilo following the deadly attacks on August 2 1999, was at the Katima Mulilo Police Station, where Police Constable Japhet Kamati lost his life.
Some of Mouton's photos show a blood-smeared floor in a doorway leading to what appears to be a small storage room inside the station's charge office.
It is well known - but not yet formally evidence before Judge Hoff - that it is alleged that while Mouton was taking photographs of the scene at the Police station on August 3 1999, numerous bloody assaults were being carried out at the station, with Police officers beating up and in some cases seriously injuring several of the high treason suspects now on trial.
Defence counsel Greyson Nyoni was one of the defence lawyers to allude to these circumstances yesterday.
He told Mouton that in the evidence disclosed to the defence a Police officer had conceded that the charge office was "flowing with blood" from accused persons who were assaulted.
He asked Mouton if he could dispute that.
Mouton said he could not.
Nyoni also put it to Mouton that the blood depicted on the photographs was in fact blood from suspects who had been assaulted.
Mouton answered that he could not confirm that as the blood had been pointed out to him as having come from Police officers who were shot in the attack at the Police station.
Defence lawyer Patrick Kauta referred to the charges of assault as well.
Noting that some of Mouton's photos showed that there was beer packed in the room with the blood-smeared floor, Kauta remarked that it would be consistent with that room if some of the accused said that they were assaulted in a room where beer was also poured over them.
Mouton responded that he could neither make such a statement, nor deny it.
Mouton also told the court that he could not explain how one of Neves's clients, Kingsley Mwiya Musheba, appeared with his left eye swollen shut and a swollen lip on a photo that he had taken of him at Mpacha Military Base on the afternoon of August 2 1999.
Another of the suspects that Mouton photographed at Mpacha, Bevin Joshua Tubwikale, was also clearly injured by the time Mouton photographed him.
He had an open cut wound on his forehead.
His counsel, Victor Kachaka, told Mouton that his client's instructions - and also those of Chris Puisano Ntaba, who was likewise photographed by Mouton at Mpachawere, was that they had actually been arrested at their villages, and were then taken to Mpacha, where Mouton later found them.
He could not comment on that as he had only found the three suspects at Mpacha, was Mouton's reaction.
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