State proposes long prison term for Nimt killer

Ernst Lichtenstrasser

The man convicted of murdering the two top executives of the Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology (Nimt) in April 2019 should be sentenced to a substantial period of imprisonment, the prosecutor involved in his trial proposed in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

“These murders were shocking. They were extreme, they were callous,” deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef remarked while addressing judge Christie Liebenberg on the sentences that are to be handed to former Nimt employee Ernst Lichtenstrasser (62) on two counts of murder and six other charges.

Lichtenstrasser is due to be sentenced on Monday next week.

He was found guilty on eight charges in November last year, after Liebenberg concluded that the evidence placed before him during his trial showed Lichtenstrasser murdered Nimt executive director Eckhart Mueller (72) and his deputy, Heimo Hellwig (60), by shooting them at the Nimt head office at Arandis in the Erongo region on 15 April 2019.

The two men were executed in cold blood, Verhoef said in her address to the judge. She also said the murders that Lichtenstrasser was convicted of were premeditated and horrendous.

The motive for the crimes was that the Nimt management had decided to transfer Lichtenstrasser from Tsumeb, where he was working, to the institute’s campus at Keetmanshoop, and Lichtenstrasser could not stall the transfer any longer, Verhoef said.

She argued that imprisonment for life would be the appropriate sentence for Lichtenstrasser. However, given his age and in light of a past Supreme Court judgement in which it was stated that a prison term exceeding an offender’s life expectancy would not be constitutional, the state suggests that he should be sentenced to a long term of imprisonment, Verhoef added.

Lichtenstrasser, who has been without legal representation since he ended the services of his legal aid lawyer after being found guilty, refused to address Liebenberg on the sentences that are to be handed to him.

At the start of proceedings in court yesterday, he told the judge he wanted the matter to be postponed until he has legal representation again and the Supreme Court has made a decision on a petition that he sent to the chief justice.

In the petition, he made a complaint that Liebenberg has refused to hear an application by him to record that proceedings in his trial were irregular and not in accordance with law.

Liebenberg refused the request for a postponement after saying that in his view Lichtenstrasser’s application for a special entry to be made in his trial record can be heard after his sentencing.

The judge also said it would not be in the interest of justice to order a further postponement, after the presentence hearing in the trial was delayed by an unsuccessful suicide attempt by Lichtenstrasser in November last year, followed by a hunger strike by him last month.

After Lichtenstrasser told the judge he was not in a position to address the court in mitigation of sentence, Liebenberg said he was deemed to have waived his right to make submissions to the court before his sentencing.

He did not waive his rights, Lichtenstrasser responded.

Lichtenstrasser has been held in custody since his arrest at Karibib on 16 April 2019.

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