‘Unreliable’ Gustavo lied under oath – State

26 November 2021 | Justice

Staff Reporter



WINDHOEK

Arguments in the bail application of Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo were finalised yesterday, with the State arguing that the Namgomar Pesca director’s promises - that he would not abscond - cannot be relied upon because he lied throughout his testimony.

If he is released on bail while his co-accused in the Fishrot syndicate remain in jail, there are no guarantees that he would not work in favour of the ‘syndicate’ to help those who remain behind bars, the prosecution argued.

State prosecutor Cliff Lutibezi said keeping Gustavo behind bars pending his trial is in the interest of the public, which lost N$317 million through corruption – and Gustavo was central to this looting.

Gustavo – Lutibezi further argued – lied when he said he did not know of the existence of Tundavala Investment, a Dubai-based entity owned by his former Investec boss James Hatuikulipi, which allegedly also benefitted from the bribery scandal.

“He lied under oath that he only came to be aware of Tundavala after he was charged, but the State has presented to this court email communication in which he was copied in, with Tundavala being a subject of discussion,” Lutibezi told High Court judge Herman Oosthuizen.

“He also lied to this court that he was never granted any opportunity to state his side of the story when he was being charged, as was done for his co-accused, yet there’s evidence before this court of documents – with his signature – stating that he would not state anything, as advised by his lawyer. This too is a lie under oath.”

The prosecution also argued that in his police statement, Gustavo stated that he was born in Lubango, Angola, while a copy of his identity card shows he was born in Namibia.

“There is nothing before this court to explain this discrepancy,” Lutibezi said.

Syndicate

Gustavo was part of a syndicate commanded by two former ministers, Bernhardt Esau and Sacky Shanghala, who manipulated provisions of the law to enable corruption, the State said.

“He [Gustavo] was a willing tool who distributed funds to those involved in this syndicate, as per transactions presented to this court by the State.”

Lutibezi said Namibians have shown disdain at the crimes allegedly committed by the Fishrot accused, with public demonstrations held in various towns.

“Society wants to see that everyone is deemed equal before the law, and that powerful people are not treated with kid gloves. Our judicial system must be seen to be impartial and not according powerful people special treatment.”

Judge Oosthuizen is expected to deliver his judgement on 15 December.

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