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NAMIBIA: Caprivi separatists still defiant
September 2, 2005
NAMIBIA: Caprivi separatists still defiant

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


Caprivi treason trialist makes a statement

WINDHOEK, 26 May 2005 (IRIN) - A group of Caprivi separatists accused of treason sang protest songs and waved placards demanding independence for Namibia's remote northeastern region when they arrived in court on Thursday.

Security was tight at the high court building in the capital, Windhoek, with the police searching everybody before they entered the courtroom.

Arriving in a police truck, the 29 men sang that they would "liberate our Caprivi" in a show of defiance. As they stepped into the yard of the high court, some of them had placards demanding secession for the narrow strip of land that borders Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.

The 29 - out of a group of 120 charged with treason - have chosen to be without legal representation, and were in court to hear a ruling that the long-running trial would be moved from the northern town of Grootfontein to Windhoek.

The state's application followed two fatal car accidents since the beginning of this year in the 1,000-km round-trip between Grootfontein and Windhoek, which bogged down trial proceedings. A chief witness and a state prosecutor both died in car crashes, while two other state prosecutors were seriously injured.

"The application by the state is granted and the trial will be shifted to the Windhoek Central Prison hall, to resume on 1 November," Judge Elton Hoff ruled.

"We are elated about the ruling," defence lawyer Patrick Kauta told IRIN. "We are of the same opinion as the prosecutors - to let the trial proceed in Windhoek."

The 120 Caprivians on trial allegedly belonged to the Caprivi Liberation Army, which in August 1999 attacked government installations in a dawn raid on the regional capital, Katima Mulilo, leaving 12 people dead.



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