Nimt killer still in ICU after overdose

Ernst Lichtenstrasser

Convicted double killer Ernst Lichtenstrasser is still receiving treatment in a Windhoek hospital, after a suspected suicide attempt during which he took an overdose of pills in prison last week.

At this stage it is not possible to give an indication when Lichtenstrasser will be medically fit again, according to a letter from a medical doctor that was given to judge Christie Liebenberg in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

In the letter, Dr Kapenauarue Katjomuise records that Lichtenstrasser is still being treated in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Katutura Intermediate Hospital, where prison officers delivered him to the emergency department on Wednesday last week.

Lichtenstrasser showed signs of an opioid overdose and required acute medical care, including mechanical ventilation, Katjomuise said in the letter.

She also stated that two types of medication taken by Lichtenstrasser have been identified. The one is an opiate used for pain management and the other is used for sleeplessness.

Given that an ICU patient’s condition can change from day to day, or even hourly, it is not realistic at this stage to give a date when he should be medically fit again, Katjomuise wrote as well.

Liebenberg postponed Lichtenstrasser’s case to Tuesday next week.

Due to Lichtenstrasser’s hospitalisation, the case was also postponed on Thursday last week, when a presentence hearing was supposed to continue before the judge.

Lichtenstrasser (62) was found guilty on two counts of murder and six further charges nearly four 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, who was a Nimt employee, 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.

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

Lichtenstrasser was found guilty based on evidence that linked him to a pistol that was found to have been the murder weapon. He also made a disputed confession to police officers a month after the double murder.

During a presentence hearing before Liebenberg two weeks ago, Lichtenstrasser said that, given his age, he believed he would “die a very undignified death in prison”.

When asked by the judge what sentence he thought would be appropriate for two counts of murder, committed with a direct intention to kill, Lichtenstrasser said he would choose the death penalty if he could.

However, since the death penalty is not an option in Namibia, he would then suggest house arrest as a sentence, he added on further questioning by the judge.

Lichtenstrasser has been held in custody since his arrest at Karibib a day and a half after the double murder at Arandis.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News