DOUBLE murder accused, Ernst Josef Lichtenstrasser, through his legal representative, demanded that his case be struck from the court roll because the police investigation into the matter has not been finalised.
When state prosecutor Johannes Shangadhi informed Magistrate Nelao Brown, who stood in for Magistrate Conchita Olivier, earlier on Tuesday that the investigation into the matter is not yet compete, Lichtenstrasser’s legal representative, Trevor Brockerhoff, argued that the state submitted the exact same reasons during the previous appearance of his client during September this year.
Brockerhoff stated that the forensic laboratory results awaited by the investigating officer cannot possibly still be the reason for yet another postponement of the case in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court.
“How do we know what the situation really is? My client asked the court during his last appearance to make the finalisation of the investigation a final order. How can the administration of justice be served by a lackadaisical attitude of the state and the investigating officer?” he asked.
Magistrate Brown, who is not familiar with the case, ordered a short recess to have regard to the court record before she could make a ruling if the case could be struck from the court roll.
After the recess the state prosecutor had to make an application to court as to why the case should not be struck from the roll. He argued that the State would suffer extreme prejudice if the matter was struck from the roll and stated that during the formal bail application it was determined that the accused person is not fit for bail because of his training as a special intelligence operator, due to the seriousness of the offence and that it would not be in the public interest to set him free.
In this regard the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Johan Geiseb was called to the witness stand to put on record exactly which part of the investigation is still outstanding.
He testified that 51 requests for forensic testing has been sent to the Namibian Forensic Laboratory and that only one result is still outstanding. He stated that it is the result of a test to confirm DNA from clothing that the accused person wore and DNA from a pistol holster found in the desert can be corroborated. He stated under oath that testing for DNA is complicated and that it can take a long time for results to be forthcoming.
Under cross examination from Brockerhoff he admitted that he has no record of enquiry into the progress of the testing but he said that he is in constant telephonic contact with the forensic scientist in Windhoek.
Brockerhoff stated that his client is suffering prejudice because a state agency is slow to finish their work.
Magistrate Browwn said while handing down her ruling that the outstanding results should be obtained because it could exonerate or condemn the accused person and that a further postponement of the case is not unreasonable. She added that the laboratory should supply the state with a progress report and that it should form part of the record when the case resumes next year.
The magistrate remanded Lichtenstrasser in custody until 18 February 2020 and stated that the case should be taken one step at a time.
Lichtenstrasser was arrested in Karibib during April and made his first appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court during May this year on charges of murdering the Director of the Namibia Institute of Mining and Technology (NIMT), Eckhart Mueller and Deputy Director Heimo Hellwig in front of the institute’s administration building in Arandis.
The accused person faces two counts of murder, one count of being in possession of an unlicensed fire arm, one count of being in possession of ammunition and a count of attempting to defeat the course of Justice.