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Tenth Caprivi treason suspect dies

Country Map - Namibia (Katima Mulilo)
The Caprivi Strip (IRIN)

The death in custody last week of another Caprivi treason suspect has brought to 10 the number of alleged secessionists who have died in detention since their arrest in 1999.

The National Society of Human Rights (NSHR) in Namibia said the death of 50-year-old Oscar Lupalezwi should be investigated, and called for "an independent autopsy to be conducted" to determine the "exact cause of death".

"Both NSHR and family members [of the deceased] suspect foul play," the NSHR said.

Lupalezwi allegedly developed high blood pressure while in custody at Grootfontein, about 300 km north of the capital, Windhoek. In April 2003 he was transferred from Grootfontein prison to Katima Mulilo, the capital of the Caprivi region, where he was held in police cells and allowed unrestricted family visits on Saturdays and Sundays, NSHR said.

A copy of his death certificate, issued on 17 October, indicated he had died from "severe malaria". However, the NSHR alleged "he was tortured while in custody ... [and] denied medical treatment for six days".

In February another Caprivi trial suspect, Felix Munangisa, died after being ill in custody.

Lupalezwi and Munangisa were among over 100 people arrested in 1999 following an armed attack on Katima Mulilo, allegedly by members of the secessionist Caprivi Liberation Army.

They have all been in custody for four years awaiting the resumption of their trial, now scheduled for 27 October.

Amnesty International has slammed the delay in bringing them to trial, saying justice delayed was tantamount to justice denied. The organisation also raised concerns over the treatment of the accused.

The Namibian government told IRIN at the time that delays in the trial were caused by circumstances beyond its control.

For more background information go to: Focus on Caprivi killings

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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