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09 Apr 2008 14:12
Najwa Petersen on Wednesday formally pleaded not guilty to the murder of her entertainer husband, Taliep.
Taliep was shot in the couple’s Athlone, Cape Town, home in December 2006; his wife is standing trial in the Cape High Court along with three men the state claims she hired to carry out the killing.
Standing in the dock before red-robed Judge Siraj Desai and two assessors, Petersen, in her trademark dark glasses, showed no emotion as she pleaded not guilty to murder, an alternative of conspiracy to murder and to firearms and robbery charges.
Her co-accused, Abdur Emjedi, Waheed Hassen and Jefferson Snyders, also rose in turn to plead not guilty as lead prosecutor Shareen Riley read out the allegations against them.
Before she called her first witness, Riley asked Desai to provisionally admit hearsay evidence related to the motive for the killing.
She said she wanted to lead testimony from witnesses who had had conversations with Taliep before his death on the state of his marriage, the handling of financial affairs and “the reason he wanted a divorce from the accused”.
Desai granted the application over an objection from Petersen’s counsel, Klaus von Lieres und Wilkau, that it would be “severely prejudicial” to his client.
The first witness that Riley called, shortly before the lunch adjournment, was Riefaat Soeker, a cousin of Petersen’s, who shared the couple’s Athlone home.
Earlier on Wednesday, Desai rejected a bid by Von Lieres for an order that the state give the defence more detailed particulars on its case against Petersen.
He said he was not persuaded by Von Lieres’s argument that the defence did not have enough information to answer to the charges.
“In my view the accused has been furnished with sufficient particularity of the charges she faces in this court,” he said.—Sapa
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