Nimt killer not fit to appear in court

Ernst Lichtenstrasser

Former Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology employee Ernst Lichtenstrasser, who has been convicted of murdering the institute’s two top executives in April 2019, has been admitted to a mental health facility in Windhoek and is not fit to appear in court currently.

This is according to a report on Lichtenstrasser’s medical condition that was provided to judge Christie Liebenberg in the Windhoek High Court on Tuesday – nearly two weeks after Lichtenstrasser’s admission to an intensive care unit at Katutura Intermediate Hospital following a reported overdose of opioid medication.

Lichtenstrasser (62) is currently admitted at a forensic mental health unit and is receiving treatment for both medical and mental conditions, it is stated in the report, signed by a medical officer at Windhoek Central Hospital’s Mental Healthcare Centre, Dr Genesia Ibrahim, and a psychiatrist at the centre, Dr Kissah Mwambene.

“Due to his current health status, he is not fit to appear in court,” the two doctors stated in their report.

They also said at this point it could not be determined when he would be ready to appear in court again.

Liebenberg postponed Lichtenstrasser’s case to 29 January after he received the report on his medical condition.

Lichtenstrasser was found guilty on two counts of murder and six further charges five weeks ago.

Five of the charges are linked to the murder of Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) executive director Eckhart Mueller (72) and his deputy, Heimo Hellwig (60), who were gunned down at the Nimt 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.

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

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 judge also noted in his judgement that before Mueller and Hellwig were murdered, Lichtenstrasser had been involved in a dispute with the Nimt management about a decision to transfer him from the institute’s campus at Tsumeb, which was close to his home at Otavi, to the Nimt campus at Keetmanshoop.

Lichtenstrasser was arrested at Karibib during the evening of 16 April 2019, and has been held in custody since then.

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