News and Information

Second treason trial postponed again
June 17, 2005

THE High Court yesterday postponed the second Caprivi high treason case for another three weeks to give the Director of Legal Aid time to find and instruct another defence lawyer to represent one of the twelve accused.

The accused, John Mazila Tembwe, has refused to accept a lawyer employed by the Directorate of Legal Aid, demanding that the Government pay a lawyer in private practice to conduct his defence.

Exactly what the Director of Legal Aid would now be compelled to do after Acting Judge John Manyarara's ruling yesterday remains unclear, though.

The Acting Judge urged the Director to appoint another counsel, in private practice, for Tembwe - but this appeal would appear to fall short of the power of a direct, unambiguous order that the Director should indeed appoint a private defence counsel for Tembwe.

Acting Judge Manyarara mentioned in his ruling that it would be in the interests of justice that Tembwe be legally represented at the trial.

Tembwe's complaint over the Legal Aid counsel that was appointed as his representative was that he could not accept someone who was directly employed by the same government that he regarded as being responsible for his arrest and prosecution on high treason and other charges.

Acting Judge Manyarara mentioned in his ruling that Tembwe was not asking to be given a lawyer of his own choice, as he appeared to be aware that his right to be given legal aid did not extend that far.

What he was asking, is for a lawyer of the Director's choice, but from private practice, the Acting Judge remarked.

Tembwe and his co-accused are facing very serious charges, he also noted, adding that he urged the Director to appoint another defence counsel, in private practice, for Tembwe.

The case is now scheduled to return to court on July 7.


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