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18 Nov 2003 07:28
The long-delayed trial of Namibian suspects accused of treason and secession was adjourned on Monday to 19 January next year, media reported.
This had to be done because the state could not produce three witnesses from neighbouring Botswana and Zambia in time due to logistical problems, the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation reported during its evening television news.
The start of the main trial was delayed by an application by 13 of the accused, who claim they were illegally held by Namibian security forces for six months before appearing in a court.
According to Namibian law, all accused must appear before a court of law within 48 hours after arrest.
According to the report, Namibian police had approached the Zambian high commission in Windhoek to trace a high ranking officer of the Zambia Defence Force as well as the Botswana high commission to subpoena two senior police officers from that country to testify on Monday, but were unsuccessful.
It quoted Commissioner Vilho Nghifindaka as telling Justice Elton Hoff the information on Monday in the High Court in Grootfontein, northeast of Windhoek.
One-hundred-and-twenty-one Namibians are on trial for allegedly taking part in the failed uprising on August 2, 1999, at the town of Katima Mulilo in the northeastern Caprivi region, where 13 people died in attacks with rocket launchers, mortars and assault rifles.
Of the original 132 Caprivi suspects, 11 have died in custody. Former police officer Oscar Lupalezwi, who had sued the state for severe torture after alleged beatings, last month became the latest suspect to die.
The accused face more than 250 charges each including high treason, murder, attempted murder and sedition.
They met for the first time with their defence counsel—five attorneys from Zambia and Zimbabwe and four from Namibia—for one hour in the courtroom on May 6, the day the trial was postponed to October 27.
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