Treason accused dies after 20 years in jail

Diamond Salufu

One of the men charged in the second Caprivi high treason trial, Diamond Samunzala Salufu, has died after more than 20 years in jail.

Salufu died on Thursday last week at Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek, lawyer Ilse Agenbach confirmed yesterday.

Salufu was 74 years old.

He had been in ill health since last year and had been using a wheelchair during his most recent court appearances.
Agenbach has represented him for nearly the past eight years during his second trial in the Windhoek High Court on high treason and other charges.

Salufu had been in jail since December 2003, when he was arrested after he and a group of other Namibians had been expelled from Botswana, where they had earlier been granted refugee status.

He and seven co-accused went on trial for a second time at the end of June 2014, after they had gone through a first trial in the Windhoek High Court from 2005 to 2007.

Salufu and his co-accused have been prosecuted on charges based on allegations that they had been involved from September 1998 to December 2003 in a plot to overthrow the Namibian government in the then Caprivi region – now the Zambezi region – and to secede the region from Namibia.

Their first trial ended in August 2007, when Salufu and nine co-accused were sentenced to prison terms of either 30 or 32 years each, after they had been convicted of high treason.

Salufu was one of the accused sentenced to 32 years’ imprisonment.

However, the Supreme Court set aside their convictions and sent their case back to the High Court for a retrial in July 2013, after finding that the judge who presided over their first trial should have recused himself from the matter when he was asked to do so following his dismissal of a jurisdiction challenge raised by the accused.

The retrial started before acting judge Petrus Unengu at the end of June 2014, when the court’s jurisdiction over the eight accused at that stage being prosecuted for a second time was questioned again.

The jurisdiction challenge was dismissed in November 2014.

Closing arguments in the trial were heard by Unengu near the end of November last year. Unengu’s judgement is at this stage scheduled to be delivered on 29 July.

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