Nimt double murder trial arguments postponed

The hearing of closing arguments in the trial of a former Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology employee accused of murdering the institute’s two top executives in April 2019 has been postponed to mid-October.

The hearing was due to take place before judge Christie Liebenberg in the Windhoek High Court yesterday, but was postponed to 16 October after the judge was informed that the state’s representative, deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef, was not available due to illness.

Former Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) employee Ernst Lichtenstrasser (62) denied guilt on eight charges – including two counts of murder and two charges of possessing a firearm without a licence – when his trial started before Liebenberg in February 2021.

Lichtenstrasser is accused of murdering Nimt executive director Eckhart Mueller (72) and his deputy, Heimo Hellwig (60), at the institute’s head office at Arandis in the Erongo region on 15 April 2019.

Mueller and Hellwig were killed when they were gunned down at the entrance of the Nimt head office.

There were no known eyewitnesses to the shooting.

Lichtenstrasser was arrested at Karibib during the evening of 16 April 2019.

The state is alleging that he committed the double murder after he had been locked in a dispute with the top leadership of Nimt about a decision to transfer him from the institute’s campus at Tsumeb, where he was employed, to Nimt’s campus at Keetmanshoop.

Testifying in his own defence in January, April and June this year, Lichtenstrasser told the court he was in the desert between Usakos and Arandis from the evening of 14 April until the afternoon of 16 April 2019.

He said he had left his home at Otavi after an argument with his wife, planned to have a meeting with a colleague at the coast, and ended up spending two days meditating in the desert, before he decided to return home.

During his testimony, Lichtenstrasser disputed a confession that he made to police officers at Walvis Bay a month after his arrest. He told the court he made a false confession under duress, after police officers threatened to arrest his wife.

Lichtenstrasser, who is being represented by legal aid lawyer Albert Titus, has been held in custody since his arrest.

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