Nimt killer claims trial was flawed

Ernst Lichtenstrasser

The man convicted of murdering the two top executives of the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) at Arandis in the Erongo region in April 2019 says he is ready to ask the High Court to record that proceedings in his trial were irregular and not in accordance with law.

Ernst Lichtenstrasser (62) said this during an appearance before deputy judge president Hosea Angula in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Lichtenstrasser returned to court two months after an alleged suicide attempt in the Windhoek Correctional Facility, where he is being held in custody, derailed a presentence hearing that was scheduled to take place before judge Christie Liebenberg.

During his appearance before Angula, Lichtenstrasser was asked if he is ready to proceed with his trial without being represented by a lawyer.

His answer was that he is ready to proceed with an application in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act to have a special entry made in the trial record.

The act says such a special entry, recording that proceedings in a trial were irregular or not according to law, can be made by a court, and that if such an entry has been made, a convicted person can appeal to the Supreme Court against his conviction.

Liebenberg found Lichtenstrasser guilty on two counts of murder and six further charges near the start of November last year.
Five of the charges are linked 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 was also convicted on three charges connected to the theft of a shotgun from a gunsmith at Grootfontein during the second half of 2016, and the supply of that firearm to an employee of his in northern Namibia.

During his trial, which started in February 2021, Lichtenstrasser denied guilt on all eight counts. He repeated that he was not responsible for the murder of the two men during a presentence hearing two weeks after he had been convicted.

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 double murder.

The court heard during his trial that Lichtenstrasser, who was employed at the Tsumeb campus of Nimt, had been involved in a dispute with the Nimt management about the way the institute was being run and following a decision to transfer him from Tsumeb, which was close to his home at Otavi, to Keetmanshoop, before Mueller and Hellwig were murdered.

Lichtenstrasser dismissed his defence lawyer, who had been instructed by the Directorate of Legal Aid to represent him, about a week after he had been pronounced guilty.

Angula postponed his case to 12 March, when Lichtenstrasser should make his next court appearance before Liebenberg again.

He is being held in custody in the meantime.

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