/ 22 April 2008

Taliep accused contests validity of confession

One of the alleged killers of entertainer Taliep Petersen made a written confession that he had committed ”a terrible sin”, the Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

However, the accused, Waheed Hassen, maintains the confession was false, and that he was coached by police on what to say.

He was in the witness box again on Tuesday, the third day of a trial within a trial to decide whether two statements he made to police were voluntary.

Hassen told the court he made an initial, formal, statement to a superintendent because he had been assaulted when he was arrested.

Investigators had also promised they would get him off the perlemoen and firearm-possession charges he was facing if he cooperated in the Petersen case and became a state witness.

Initially he told the police that he was the only hit man involved.

However, when they insisted that one person alone could not have carried out the killing, he decided to implicate his friend, Jefferson Snyders, who is now a co-accused in the case.

Hassen said Snyders, like him, had had two criminal cases pending, and he thought the police could also help Snyders with these cases if Snyders, like him, became a state witness.

After he made the first statement, one of the policemen, Captain Jonathan Morris, told him to expand on what he had said.

”He said I must make it more acceptable to the court, and that I must express regret,” Hassen said.

With paper and pen supplied by Morris, he then wrote a 15-page statement.

He set down his date of birth, added that he grew up in Bonteheuwel on the Cape Flats and then said: ”As a Muslim with a fear of losing the love of Allah I committed a terrible sin.”

In the statement, only a portion of which has so far been read out in court, he said Abdoer Emjedi, accused two in the case, was his friend, and had been penniless at the time because he had just come out of jail.

Emjedi called him and told him he had a ”package” that had to be delivered, meaning there was going to be a robbery.

Emjedi met him at the home of Fahiem Hendricks, who has testified in the trial as a state witness.

”Fahiem told me of a friend of his that is suffering abuse at the hands of her husband and that woman is in crisis,” Hassen said in the statement.

Judge Siraj Desai adjourned the trial to Wednesday morning to allow Hassen to read through the document and mark which sections he put in on his own initiative, and which he was allegedly told to insert by police.

Before adjourning, however, Desai asked Hassen why he had described Taliep repeatedly saying the Muslim Shahada, or prayer, before dying.

Hassen said he put it in because he was trying to add more emotion and remorse to his account, and so that it ”would not look like fiction”.

Also on trial is Petersen’s wife, Najwa. — Sapa