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Advocate withdraws from Boeremag trial

The judge in the Boeremag treason trial on Tuesday urged one of the accused and his legal representative to come to some sort of arrangement after the advocate withdrew from the trial, causing yet a further delay.

Advocate Barry van der Merwe, who represented alleged former Boeremag military commander Tom Vorster, withdrew without giving any reasons.

Vorster admitted that there had been a breakdown in their relationship of trust, but blamed this on the lack of privacy and time for proper consultations.

He insisted that he had to consult with another legal representative to protect his constitutional rights, especially as private conversations were being taped inside the courtroom, even when the court was not sitting.

He complained that he had to consult ”in front of everyone” in the court, which he found ”embarrassing”.

”I’m portrayed as the pig in the tale, but I can assure you that it has never been my intention to delay the trial. I just have to act in my best interest,” Vorster said.

Judge Eben Jordaan urged Vorster and his advocate to reconsider the matter, as the withdrawal at this late stage of the trial, after the state had already closed its case, would have severe implications for everyone involved.

If a new advocate was appointed, he would have to work through a record of over 29 000 pages, but it was more likely that Vorster would be instructed to represent himself, which was not a healthy situation.

”It’s like telling you, you have to go into a Boeing and fly to Heathrow. You just cannot do that,” Judge Jordaan told Vorster.

The judge assured Vorster and his 20 co-accused that he would give them enough time to prepare their defence. He said he would arrange for them to use a private consultation room, if necessary.

The judge said he had also been surprised that the microphones in court kept on recording even if the court was not sitting. Even though he was told that the conversations were not transcribed or listened to, this caused concern, he said.

The trial will continue on Thursday. — Sapa

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