Fingerprints found on a car in which a young man was shot dead in Windhoek at the start of 2011 did not match the prints of two American men being prosecuted in connection with the killing.
A member of the Namibian Police’s crime scene unit, warrant officer Paulus Namhindo, testified in the Windhoek High Court this week that he found fingerprints on the driver’s side door of the car in which the 25-year-old Andre Heckmair was found killed in a dead-end street in Klein Windhoek on 7 January 2011.
Namhindo said he also found palm prints on the roof of the car above the driver’s door.
He lifted the fingerprints and palm prints and later received the fingerprints of the two men accused of murdering Heckmair, Americans Marcus Thomas and Kevan Townsend, for comparison with the prints from the vehicle, Namhindo told judge Christie Liebenberg on Monday. The prints found on the car did not match the prints of the two charged men, he said.
While being questioned by defence lawyers Salomon Kanyemba and Mbanga Siyomunji yesterday, Namhindo added that he did not compare the prints lifted off the car with the fingerprints of Heckmair or of police officers and paramedics who visited the scene where Heckmair had been found shot.
On a question from Siyomunji, Namhindo also agreed that the prints he found on the car could have been left by someone linked to the murder of Heckmair.
The state is alleging that Thomas and Townsend – both currently aged 37 – travelled from the United States to Namibia in late December 2010 to carry out a plan to kill Heckmair, who had lived and worked in New York City during 2010.
Thomas and Townsend, who were arrested on the evening of 7 January 2011 at the guest house where they were staying in Windhoek West, are denying guilt on six charges, including counts of murder and possession of a firearm and ammunition without a licence.
Their trial started before Liebenberg in November 2014, and has been marked by several delays since then.
On Monday, another state witness, Paulus Uukongo, told the court he was employed by a freight services company and stationed at Hosea Kutako International Airport when Thomas and Townsend collected a parcel from him on 28 December 2010.
Uukongo said the parcel had been sent to Thomas from Helsinki in Finland, and he received it at the airport on 22 December 2010.
He recounted that a customs officer inspected the parcel before it was handed to Thomas. The parcel contained a detachable table leg, also described as a metal pipe, in which there was a “small hollow black pipe” that Thomas pulled halfway out, telling the customs officer that the object was also a spare part for a table, Uukongo said.
Police officers who previously testified in the trial have told the court a table leg was discovered in the two accused men’s guest house room after their arrest, and that a firearm silencer was discovered hidden inside the table leg when it was inspected more closely at the office of one of the detectives who investigated the killing of Heckmair.
Kanyemba, who is defending Thomas, told Uukongo during his cross-examination that the inspection by a customs officer did not happen, and was something that Uukongo had been coached to relay to the court. Uukongo denied the accusation.
Kanyemba added that Thomas is not denying he imported a table leg into Namibia, but is saying that whatever was found in the table leg was not imported by him as well.
Testimony about the discovery of a firearm silencer in the table leg was made up by the police and the state, Kanyemba said.
This claim did not go down well with the judge, who warned Kanyemba to be careful about what he as an officer of the court was saying about the state, which is represented by deputy prosecutor general Antonia Verhoef.
Verhoef indicated yesterday that the state has reached the end of its case, which it expects to close when the trial continues today.