THE confession of Ernst Josef Lichtenstrasser made before detectives investigating the brutal double murder at the Namibia Institute of Mining And Technology campus in Arandis will not form the back bone of the State’s case once the matter proceeds to trial.
Lichtenstrasser testified during his formal bail application in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court that he was coerced into making the confession but the finer details he divulged to detectives led to amongst others the discovery of the murder weapon in the wide open expanses of the Namib Desert.
In his confession he said that he used a Beretta nine millimetre pistol that was part of stash of fire arms discovered hidden in a cave on the resettlement farm of his former wife in the area of Karibib about six years ago to shoot NIMT director Eckhart Mueller and deputy director Heimo Hellwig.
Other inconsistencies in his testimony was that he told his wife during a heated argument at their home in Otavi on the day before the execution style murder that he was going to Arandis to “cool down”.
Lichtenstrasser’s version contradicts the evidence in the case file that his wife in fact went to the Otavi Police Station to file a missing person report on the same day that the two men were shot in cold blood.
Sate Advocate Antonia Verhoef during her argument in opposing bail stated that the applicant contradicted his own evidence on several occasions while testifying. She stated further that statements by several witnesses contradict the version of events the applicant described during his evidence in chief.
Advocate Verhoef argued that the testimony of Inspector Reinhardt Maletzky, one of the investigating officers in the matter, clearly pointed out the inconsistencies in the evidence of the applicant.
She further argued that the interest of the public in this matter should be given extraordinary weight because the execution style murder has the community of Arandis living in fear. She stated that the petition handed to court officials at the start of the accused person’s bail application indicates the trauma the community of Arandis suffered as a result of the murder.
Advocate Verhoef argued that stringent reporting conditions will not guarantee that the accused person will not abscond and further stated that the notion of house arrest is out of the question because the police will simply not be able to guard the accused person around the clock until his trial comes to an end.
According to Advocate Verhoef cannot be trusted not to interfere with witnesses or the evidence in the matter because the investigation into the matter is not yet completed.
Verhoef stated that when all the forensic and circumstantial evidence is seen together that the State does indeed have a very strong prima facie case against the accused person that he planned the execution of the two people well ahead of the double murder.
Lichtenstrasser’s defence counsel, Trevor Brockerhoff requested the court to take into consideration that his client made a good case that he will indeed stand trial because he has family and financial responsibilities. Brockerhoff further argued that his client has significant ties to Namibia because of his sacrifice during the struggle for liberation. He stated that it take at least two years for the matter to proceed to trial and that it would be unfair to keep his client incarcerated for such a long time.
With regards to the prima facie status of the State’s case Brockerhoff argued that more than one inference can be drawn from the evidence. He stated that there was no direct evidence implicating his client in the heinous crime and that the evidence provided by the Sate is a fallacy.
After hearing the arguments Magistrate Conchita Olivier informed the accused person that the Court will carefully deliberate on the evidence and arguments and that she will hand down her judgement on 24 July. When Lichtenstrasser made his first appearance in the Swakopmund Magistrate’s Court early in May this year, the matter was postponed until the same date.