News and Information

No clarity on treason trial future
October 21, 2004


THE High Court at Grootfontein will reconvene tomorrow in an attempt to get clarity over the further course of the Caprivi high treason trial.

The trial was thrown into uncertainty by the withdrawal of nine treason suspects' defence counsel, Henry Chanda, as their legal representative on Tuesday.

Chanda is now still representing only one accused person.

He, his eight colleagues in the defence team, the prosecution team and the suspects on trial before Judge Elton Hoff returned to court for only the briefest of proceedings yesterday.

Prosecutor Taswald July told Judge Hoff that it was still uncertain who would be representing the nine that had previously been represented by Chanda.

He added that he had been informed that the Director of Legal Aid was on his way to Grootfontein to try to resolve the matter.

It was for that reason that the case was postponed to tomorrow.

As with Chanda's withdrawal on Tuesday, no reasons were placed on record yesterday for the apparent problem with appointing another defence counsel for Chanda's nine former clients.

However, according to sources close to the trial, two of Chanda's colleagues, Hennie Krueger and Jonathan Samukange, had been approached with instructions to take over the defence of the nine.

They have not been willing to do so, though, because of their opinion that there was a real possibility that conflicts of interest may arise between the nine and their current clients.

If such a conflict did occur in future, it may have even greater repercussions than the difficulties now caused by Chanda's withdrawal.

In such a situation, the trial may face a lengthy delay if new defence counsel would have to be appointed to take over from a counsel who had to withdraw because of a conflict of interests.

Chanda's withdrawal this week was - according to the most prominent of his now former clients, alleged Caprivi Liberation Army commander John Samboma - the result of a refusal by the nine to continue to be represented by him, since in their opinion he was not properly consulting with them or following their instructions to him.


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