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Photo tussle continues in Caprivi treason trial
June 1, 2006
Photo tussle continues in Caprivi treason trial


THE already drawn-out tug of war over Police photographs of the 119 men accused in the main Caprivi high treason trial is set to continue when the trial resumes in the High Court in Windhoek on Monday.

The trial before Judge Elton Hoff was adjourned for a week and a half on Wednesday last week, just after the prosecution's 52nd witness in the matter, retired Police Chief Inspector Jacques Malan, had completed giving the first part of his testimony in the case.

Also on Wednesday, before Malan testified, Judge Hoff gave the latest in a growing series of rulings in the trial, when he dismissed a defence objection to a request from the prosecution that the State's very first witness in the trial, Police Detective Warrant Officer Daniel Mouton, be recalled to the witness stand to give additional testimony in the trial.

The Judge ruled that it would not only be desirable, but essential, in order to see that justice is done in the trial, to recall Mouton to give more evidence.

That evidence, Deputy Prosecutor General Taswald July informed the court, would be about photographs that Mouton took of the men who are charged in the high treason case that Judge Hoff is dealing with.

Having received the ruling in their favour, the prosecution however chose not to proceed with Mouton's second round of testimony, but to first call Malan to the witness stand.

Like Mouton, Malan also took photographs of the accused men.

Malan was the Commanding Officer of the Namibian Police's Scene of Crime Unit at that time.

He told Judge Hoff that his photo session took place at the Grootfontein Prison in 1999.

That was after the Police carried out dozens of arrests of people accused of involvement in an alleged plot to take up arms to secede the Caprivi Region from Namibia.

Malan related that the men whom he was sent to photograph were initially reluctant to have their pictures taken.

After one of the older people in their ranks had intervened, however, most of them allowed him to take the photographs.

He later paid a return visit to Grootfontein to photograph more of the accused men, since photos that another Police officer had taken of them in the meantime all turned out to be out of focus, Malan also told the court.

The photos that Malan took went into one of two albums containing photos of the accused men.

These albums, referred to as "the yellow album" and "the green album", have received numerous mentions in the trial, without actually being shown to the court, since late last year.

Malan's photos made up the majority of the photographs in the yellow album.

Most of Mouton's photographs were used to compile the green album, while a couple of the pictures that he had taken also went into the yellow album.

These albums have in turn formed the basis of a third, combined album that the 51st witness in the trial, Detective Sergeant Jacob Shipalanga, compiled after he had taken new photographs of the original pictures, while eliminating the names of the men that appeared on them.

The prosecution's plan with the Shipalanga album, July has informed the court, is to use it as a tool that future witnesses could refer to when they are asked to identify the persons that they will be giving testimony about.

That plan also explains why the defence has been putting up such a fight since mid-May in an effort to prevent the court from accepting the Shipalanga photo album as evidence in the trial and in the process giving the State another tool to use in the trial.

So far in the trial, the defence has scored repeated points against the prosecution when State witnesses proved to be unable to make positive identifications in court of the people that they were mentioning in their testimony.

Malan is set to return to the witness box to be cross-examined when the trial resumes on Monday.

Defence lawyer Christopher Dube told Judge Hoff at the end of the first part of Malan's testimony last week that the defence first needed time to consult with the accused persons on his evidence, and also to consult their own expert on his testimony.


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