Fishrot’s Fitty ready with third attempt for bail

Tamson Hatuikulipi

One of the men charged in the Fishrot fishing quotas fraud, corruption and racketeering case, Tamson ‘Fitty’ Hatuikulipi, is ready to make a third attempt to be granted bail, after nearly four and a half years in jail.

Hatuikulipi will first have to get over a hurdle before his latest bail application might proceed, though.

This is after deputy prosecutor general Hesekiel Iipinge yesterday argued in the Windhoek High Court that Hatuikulipi’s latest application to be granted bail is not based on new facts, and as a result should not be heard.

Judge David Munsu is due to give a ruling on the objection raised by Iipinge today.

Hatuikulipi (43), who is the son-in-law of former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau, has been held in custody since his arrest near the end of November 2019.

A first bail application by Hatuikulipi and Esau, who is also charged in the Fishrot case, was turned down in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in July 2020.

A second bail application by Hatuikulipi was heard by Munsu in the Windhoek High Court from July 2022. That hearing ended in December 2022 with Munsu dismissing the application, which was based on alleged new facts.

Hatuikulipi’s new application to be granted bail is also based on alleged new facts, according to a notice that defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomunji filed at the court.

Those new facts include the fact that the trial of Hatuikulipi and his co-accused did not start in October last year, when it was scheduled to begin, that Hatuikulipi has been in custody for close to four and a half years, that his financial situation is continuing to deteriorate, since his assets have been placed under a property restraint order and that he has been robbed of the emotional support of his two minor children, it is stated in the notice filed by Siyomunji.

Iipinge argued yesterday that all of those points are not new facts on which a new bail application can be based.

Time spent in custody and financial losses are a natural consequence of being denied bail and being held in custody, and Munsu already considered those facts during Hatuikulipi’s previous bail hearing in 2022, Iipinge argued.

Munsu also considered Hatuikulipi’s separation from his children and that Hatuikulipi said he suffered emotionally because of that situation, Iipinge said.

The grounds on which Hatuikulipi is basing a new bail application all existed when Munsu considered his previous request to be released on bail, he argued as well.

Siyomunji commented it was “mind-boggling” that it could be argued that no new facts were presented to the court in his notice.
He noted that Munsu said in a judgement on a bail application by Esau in December last year that time spent in custody was a new fact in that matter.

Siyomunji also said the state disclosed further evidence to Hatuikulipi in June last year, and he intends to use some of that evidence in support of his new application for bail.

Since that information was not available at the time of his previous bail hearing, it constitutes a new fact, Siyomunji argued.

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