Former Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhardt Esau, said on Monday that the government should cover his legal fees in the Fishrot trial, citing he was charged in his capacity as a minister.
Esau made a brief court appearance alongside his co-accused, son-in-law Tamson Hatuikulipi; former Minister of Justice Sakeus Shanghala; former Investec Asset Management Managing Director, James Hatuikulipi; former Fishcor Chief Executive Officer, Mike Nghipunya; Otneel Shuudifonya; Pius Mwatelula; Phillipus Mwapopi and Nigel van Wyk.
Esau, whose lawyer Richard Metcalfe withdrew because of a lack of funding, told a fully packed courtroom that he is no longer able to cover his legal costs, as his assets and bank accounts are frozen. He indicated that he wants the State to allocate funds for his preferred lawyer.
Meanwhile, the court was also informed that another suspect, Ricardo Gustavo, is hospitalised.
State prosecutor Ed Marondedze said the State is ready to proceed with the trial on 02 October 2023.
Defence lawyer Mbanga Siyomundji said the lawyers only received the full disclosure in June and that the documents require ample time to read. Another lawyer, Kasper Gilroy, said consultation with his clients at the Windhoek Correctional Facility’s trial-awaiting section is frustrating as they are not allowed to enter the premises with their vehicles. He has also confirmed that they received the voluminous disclosure.
The matter has been postponed to September for a status hearing, before the trial commences in October. The suspects were arrested in November 2019 on charges ranging from fraud and money laundering to racketeering.
Source: The Namibian Press Agency