The 10 men facing a host of criminal charges in connection with Icelandic-owned companies’ use of Namibian fishing quotas will have a single trial in the Windhoek High Court.
This is after judge Christie Liebenberg ordered yesterday that the two pending cases in which the 10 are charged should be joined together, and the charges against them should also be joined into one indictment.
Liebenberg further ordered that the state should file an amended indictment recording the charges against the 10 men and corporate entities represented by them at the court by the afternoon of 11 October.
The order was given following an application by the state to have the two pending cases on the Fishrot fishing quotas corruption scandal joined together and heard in one trial.
Former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau and his businessman son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi, who were charged in both matters, did not oppose the state’s application.
However, the other eight accused, including former minister of justice Sacky Shanghala, his business partner James Hatuikulipi, and Pius Mwatelulo, who were also charged in both cases, opposed the bid to have the two matters joined.
Liebenberg said the state is in both cases alleging the accused belonged to a syndicate, acted with a common purpose, and conspired with the Icelandic-owned fishing company group Samherji to access Namibian fishing quotas through the company Namgomar Pesca (Namibia) and the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor).
According to prosecutor general Martha Imalwa, the beneficiaries of proceeds from fishing quotas made available to the Samherji group included the accused in the two cases, and as a result the two matters involve the same criminal enterprise, the judge also recounted.
Further noting that in each of the cases all the accused are charged with at least two counts of racketeering – which involves the receipt of proceeds from repeated criminal acts, such as fraud – Liebenberg said they are also accused of other offences on which the racketeering charges are based.
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He said the state has shown the various accused were all involved in the alleged illegal enterprises in different capacities, with their ultimate purpose the facilitation of the offences alleged in the indictments.
“The enterprise articulated in the Fishcor case is inseparable from the founding enterprise described in the Namgomar case,” the judge stated, adding that the Fishcor case followed on the planning and execution of the alleged criminal enterprise in the Namgomar matter.
“The spoils generated from the unlawful enterprise are proceeds of crime and must be proved in both cases,” Liebenberg said.
“To this end, a duplication of evidence would not be in the interest of the accused persons, neither in the interest of justice.”
The 10 accused – all of whom are being held in custody – are due to have a next pretrial hearing in the High Court on 21 October.