Fasting Nimt killer gets time to recover

Ernst Lichtenstrasser

Former Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) employee Ernst Lichtenstrasser, who has been convicted of murdering the institute’s two top executives nearly five years ago, is not physically fit for the continuation of his trial at this stage, a medical doctor said in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Namibian Correctional Service medical doctor Jona Jona told judge Christie Liebenberg he needs some time – about three to four weeks – to investigate and deal with Lichtenstrasser’s medical problems, which include depression, post-traumatic stress and hypertension.

Jona also said Lichtenstrasser (62) informed him the reason for his hunger strike was that he wanted to be given at least four weeks to prepare for the rest of his trial. He has said he would stop his hunger strike if he is given that time, Jona added.

In a report that Jona provided to the court, he recorded that Lichtenstrasser’s weight has fallen from 103,7 kilogrammes to 102,3kg since he started to fast on 1 March.

Having been informed that Lichtenstrasser is not medically fit for court proceedings currently, Liebenberg postponed the next stage of presentence proceedings in his trial to 25 April.

He also ordered that Jona should submit a report on Lichtenstrasser’s medical condition to the registrar of the High Court every two weeks and should immediately notify the registrar if Lichtenstrasser refuses to cooperate with the medical staff treating him.

Lichtenstrasser was found guilty on eight charges in November last year.

Five of those charges are connected to the murder of Nimt executive director Eckhart Mueller (72) and his deputy, Heimo Hellwig (60), who were gunned down at the institute’s head office at Arandis on 15 April 2019.

Lichtenstrasser denied guilt on all charges during his trial, which started in February 2021.

During the trial, the court heard that Lichtenstrasser had been involved in a dispute with the Nimt management before Mueller and Hellwig were murdered.

Liebenberg found him guilty of the double murder based on ballistics and DNA evidence that linked him to a pistol which was found to have been the murder weapon.

Lichtenstrasser also made a disputed confession to police officers a month after the murders.

He has been held in custody since his arrest at Karibib on 16 April 2019.

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