Namibia and Ethiopian governments have initiated talk to extradite Kristofina Amutenya, the diplomatic ex-wife who stands accused of murdering her two children in Addis Ababa.
Amutenya (33) also stands accused of attempting to kill her stepchild at the family home she shared with her ex-husband and Namibian diplomat Petrus Haufiku.
With the case having been postponed in Ethiopia for at least two months and Amutenya not having been formally charged, any extradition talks that will possibly end with her standing trial in Namibia will only be concluded once a decision to charge her has been formally taken.
The remains of the children arrived in Namibia on Saturday at Hosea Kutako International Airport, where the minister of industrialisation and trade, Lucia Iipimbu, accompanied the children’s father, who is the commercial attachĂ© to Ethiopia.
The children â Jenay Haufiku (9) and Jane Haufiku (3) â are expected to be laid to rest at their father’s village at Ongha in the Ohangwena region next week.
In a letter to the suspect’s family, Sabine BĂ¶hlke-MĂ¶ller, acting executive director of international relations and cooporation, said the embassy is working on solving outstanding issues, with the ultimate aim to bring Amutenya home.
This is despite Namibia and Ethiopia not having an extradition agreement.
âThis however involves many different processes and cooperation between the government of Namibia and the government of Ethiopia, and does not always happen as fast as we would wish,â BĂ¶hlke-MĂ¶ller said.
She confirmed that ambassador Emilia Mkusa went to see the suspect and was allowed to take basic necessities to her.
According to BĂ¶hlke-MĂ¶ller, Mkusa also had a meeting with the investigator in the matter, who said although Amutenya appeared in court she has not been charged.
âShe was further assured by the Ethiopian authorities that they would, as per Namibia’s request, arrange for a psychologist to support and examine Amutenya. Language seems to be a challenge as most psychologists in Ethiopia speak mainly Amharic and not much English,â BĂ¶hlke-MĂ¶ller said.
Meanwhile, Amutenya’s family, through the law firm Kadhila Amoomo Legal Practitioners, have questioned the legality of detaining Amutenya if she was not charged with killing her two minor children.
In a letter to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Amoomo said Amutenya’s detention was confusing and raised several questions.
It is not clear as to when she was taken into custody, but she appeared in court on 14 December.
âIt leaves one perplexed as to how a person could appear in court for an offence without being formally charged,â said Amoomo.
The matter was postponed for two months with no specific court date provided.
Amoomo urged the ministry to obtain full details on when the next court appearance is expected and the reason for the postponement of the case.
In Namibia, once a suspect is apprehended, charges are laid before a court date is set.
Once the suspect appears in court and the case is postponed, reasons such as further investigations would motivate the postponement.
If a suspect is refused bail and is remanded in custody, reasons such as that the release is not in the interest of the public or that the crime is serious in nature would be provided for the decision.
Amoomo has further questioned why Amutenya appeared in court without legal representation or being accompanied by a member of the Namibian mission.
Although the couple is divorced, Amoomo argues that Amutenya was a Namibian citizen in Ethiopia at the time of the incident as a diplomatic spouse, and is thus entitled to government and diplomatic support, including diplomatic immunity.
âWe therefore demand that your office and the ambassador acquire a legal representative in Addis Ababa to represent Ms Amutenya, the cost of which is to be borne by the state,â he said.
Amoomo on behalf of the client also asked that the ministry ensure that a post-mortem examination be carried out on the children’s remains upon arrival in Namibia.
The ministry was asked to provide clarity on the matter today or before today.
According to Francois Bangamwabo, a senior partner at FB Law Chambers, under the nationality principle, the Namibian government can ask for the suspect to be extradited, so she can stand trial in Namibia, if the country proves it has an interest in the matter.
This is because of the nationalities of the victims and the suspect.
âI would propose that the lawyer engages the government, because now it’s the duty of the government [to intervene], in terms of diplomatic protection. Diplomatic protection is a principle in which the state has a duty to protect its nationals who are injured outside its territory. The Namibian government can ask for this woman to be extradited to face prosecution or trial [in Namibia],â he said.
He added that only the Namibian government can invoke diplomatic protection.
âEthiopia may say it is much easier to prosecute her there, because the witnesses may find it difficult to travel to Namibia to testify,â Bangamwabo added.
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