Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Boeremag Boets

May 25 2011

The advocate for two of the Boeremag treason trialists on Wednesday withdrew from the trial because of an "irreconcilable breach of trust" with his clients.

Judge Eben Jordaan granted Gert van Niekerk, the latest of several advocates who represented brothers Dr Johan and Wilhelm Pretorius, leave to withdraw from the trial, even though final legal argument for the defence commenced on Wednesday.

Johan Pretorius told the court the breach of trust came to light during consultations with Van Niekerk earlier this month, resulting in their advocate saying he had no other choice than to withdraw.

"We realise this comes at a very late stage and that we find ourselves in a legal technical minefield.

"We cannot reveal the justification grounds for the breach of trust because most of the information is privileged.

"We're required to reveal the grounds to the Legal Aid Board before we can get new legal representation.

"We're worried because every time in the past we've found ourselves in a similar situation, the Board contested it and even went to court about it, but then revealed privileged information.

"We want to consult with a legal representative we can trust to advise us, but we don't have the finances to pay anyone to represent us," he said.

Johan Pretoriu said they were not abandoning their right to legal representation, but felt the system could not accommodate their needs.

Judge Jordaan suggested that the two should try to consult with international law expert Prof Hercules Booysen or Adv Chris de Jager of the Pretoria Bar, who he said was of "unimpeachable integrity".

Judge Jordaan last year dismissed an application by the two and their brother Kobus to be declared prisoners of war.

The brothers insisted they should not be treated as ordinary criminals who committed crimes for gain.

They described themselves as "soldiers in a liberation struggle" who were embroiled in an armed struggle aimed at self-determination for the "Boerevolk".

The three brothers conceded their involvement in activities such as manufacturing home-made bombs, knowing these bombs were to be placed at strategic points.

Prosecutor Paul Fick SC last month argued that all of the accused should be convicted on the main charge of high treason.

He said their coup plot to violently overthrow the government and replace it with a Boer Republic was still very much alive.

Two of the original 22 treason trialists - Herman Scheepers and Frederick Boltman - have died since the trial commenced eight years ago.

The first of the defence advocates, Harry Prinsloo, today commenced with final legal argument in the trial.

He handed in lengthy written heads of argument, but started highlighting some of his arguments, centering around the State's argument on when the alleged coup plot commenced.
The trial continues on Thursday.

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