The bail appeal of six of the suspects charged in Namibia’s biggest fishing corruption scandal, notoriously known as Fishrot has been dismissed by the Supreme Court today.
Former justice minister Sacky Shanghala, his business partner James Hatuikulipi, former National Fishing Corporation of Namibia chief executive Mike Nghipunya, Pius Mwatelulo, Otneel Shuudifonya and Phillipus Mwapopi appealed against a decision by High Court judge Shafimana Ueitele.
“The court could not make a finding whether the applicants will or will not abscond’, that the appellants did not satisfy the court that if they are released on bail they will not distort or suppress evidence and thus ‘the likelihood that they would interfere with evidence is reasonably real and that their personal circumstances, (their health, their family relations, employment and business environments) which the appellants placed before the court, were neither unusual nor do they singly or together warrant release of the applicants in the interest of justice,” the Supreme Court found.
Ueitele denied them bail last year April after they(suspects) failed to demonstrate that their continued detention violates their constitutional rights, because they relied on secondary grounds of violation of their rights.
The high court last year found that it would not be in the interest of justice to grant the suspects bail.
The suspects argued before the supreme court that several factors had not been considered by the High Court and that the Judge misdirected himself in denying them bail.
“The court (High court) did not properly consider the impact on the appellants’ constitutional rights to liberty and to a fair trial, that the State does not have a strong case against them – by attacking the manner in which the investigation was conducted and raising an issue of credibility of the State’s key witness and whether he will come to testify and that charges are fatally flawed and evidence in relation to these charges cannot be admissible at trial,” read the documents.
The suspects during the hearing also brought it to the attention of the Supreme Court that the signed judgment differs from the transcribed judgment which Ueitele read to them last year April.
“Appellants submitted that as the judge was functus officio in that after he delivered the transcribed judgment, the signed judgment must be declared a nullity or alternatively those portions of the signed judgment that do not coincide with the transcribed judgment must be deleted and treated as a nullity,” the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The six men, along with four others re charged with racketeering, violating the Anti-Corruption Act, conspiracy, corruptly using an office to receive gratification, fraud, theft, and money laundering, as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice.
They are are accused of misappropriating or profiting N$317 million from shady fishing deals, involving Fishcor and an Icelandic fishing company, Samherji.