46 years on, fam­ily of S African ac­tivist call for mur­der charge

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A South African po­lice­man present at the sus­pi­cious death of a an­ti­a­partheid cam­paigner in 1971 should be charged with mur­der, a court heard yes­ter­day as the of­fi­cial ver­sion of events came un­der harsh scru­tiny. Joao Ro­drigues, a for­mer mem­ber of the feared se­cu­rity po­lice, was al­legedly the last of­fi­cer to have been with Ahmed Ti­mol be­fore Ti­mol plunged to his death from the 10th-floor of Jo­han­nes­burg po­lice head­quar­ters. Ro­drigues has faced three days of in­ten­sive ques­tion­ing at the High Court in­quest in Pre­to­ria into Ti­mol’s death and has at times given con­tra­dic­tory ac­counts of the in­ci­dent of 46 years ago.

“You col­lab­o­rated with the se­cu­rity branch to cover up var­i­ous crimes: firstly the tor­ture (of Ti­mol)... as well as his mur­der,” said the Ti­mol fam­ily lawyer Howard Var­ney. “We will be sub­mit­ting to this court that the court rec­om­mend... that you be charged with per­jury (and) the mur­der of Ahmed Ti­mol.”Ro­drigues, 78, has stren­u­ously de­nied harm­ing Ti­mol or any in­volve­ment in his death, telling both the new in­quest and an in­quest in 1972 that Ti­mol died by jump­ing out the win­dow. “I do not con­cur with coun­sel’s sub­mis­sion,” Ro­drigues said af­ter Var­ney ac­cused him of mur­der and other crimes.

Ti­mol’s fam­ily has cam­paigned for decades for a new probe to over­turn the 1972 court verdict that he had com­mit­ted sui­cide. They had ini­tially said they did not want to bring prose­cu­tions against those in­volved but sim­ply wanted to learn the truth. “Ro­drigues is stand­ing by what he said in 1972. By not be­ing truth­ful he’s ask­ing to be pros­e­cuted. He’s not mak­ing things easy for him­self,” Ti­mol’s younger brother Mo­ham­mad said.

Judge ques­tions ev­i­dence

Both the lawyers for Ti­mol’s fam­ily and the state have raised mul­ti­ple doubts over Ro­drigues’ ac­count of how the 29-year-old com­mu­nist re­cruit fell to his death. “I have heard ev­i­dence from wit­nesses... which says to me that your story is not prob­a­ble,” Judge Billy Mothle told Ro­drigues yes­ter­day. Ro­drigues had told the court that Ti­mol was not mis­treated and had jumped out of the win­dow af­ter be­com­ing fear­ful.

“I only saw him from the side... but he did not have any in­juries,” added Ro­drigues, who claimed that Ti­mol barged past him to jump out of the win­dow when he was left alone with the de­tainee. But Var­ney said that Ti­mol had suf­fered se­ri­ous in­juries ahead of his plunge-a claim sup­ported by two in­de­pen­dent pathol­o­gist re­ports sub­mit­ted to the court. “He could barely walk let alone get up and storm to the win­dow and dive out,” said Var­ney.

Ro­drigues had also claimed that Ti­mol’s dash for the win­dow “hap­pened in a split sec­ond” and caught him off guard. “It would not be pos­si­ble to run, open the win­dow and dive,” said Var­ney, quot­ing the re­port of an aero­nau­ti­cal ex­pert. “It was im­pos­si­ble in those cir­cum­stances and is yet an­other ex­am­ple of a trans­par­ent fab­ri­ca­tion.” — AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.