Fishrot investigations far from over
01 June 2020 | Crime
Investigations into the Fishrot case are far from complete for the setting of a trial date, because only four out of the nine involved countries have responded and cooperated with Namibian authorities.
This was revealed by State Advocate Ed Marondedze at the Windhoek Magistrate's Court on Friday, when the Fishrot accused appeared in court to determine the progress made into investigations.
The accused are former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, former fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, James Hatuikulipi, Tamson Hatuikulipi, Ricardo Gustavo, Pius Mwatelulo and Mike Nghipunya.
Marondedze said investigations started five months ago when the suspects were arrested, and this period of time has not been sufficient for the State to finalise the investigations, given the magnitude of the case.
The prosecution will need more time as investigations are being conducted in several African countries, Europe and the United Arab Emirates, he added. He said investigations are ongoing in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe as well as Spain, Iceland, Cyprus, Dubai, Sweden and Norway.
More arrests are expected to be made in Angola and Iceland, Marondedze said.
“This case was conducted in a sophisticated manner in which various communication platforms were used; it requires diplomacy. The State is working around the clock to finalise the investigations and start with trials, but a longer period of time is needed to finalise the investigations,” he said.
He also said the Anti-Corruption Commission of Namibia indicated that investigations required additional travelling, but due to the coronavirus outbreak, some countries were under lockdown and closed their borders. Marondedze proposed that the matter be postponed to 28 August to allow the prosecution more time, and further that it should be tried in the High Court instead of the Magistrate's Court.
One of the defence lawyers of the accused, Advocate Tinashe Chibwana, said the State is using a “detention without trial” tactic because investigations into the matter started in 2014.
He also said according to the investigating officer, nothing has been done since November 2019 when the suspects were arrested.
The lawyer opposed the postponement of the case and urged the State to set a trial date or to remove the case from the court roll, saying that by being kept in custody, their clients' rights are being violated.
Magistrate Unengu said the court will need time to decide on the matter and postponed it to Wednesday, 3 June.