Timol murder-accused Joao Rodrigues appeals ruling to stand trial

South Africa: Johannesburg: Former apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues appears at the at the South Gauteng high court, Rodrigues was an officer in the apartheid-era police's feared security branch, is accused of being part of a group of policemen who murdered Ahmed Timol while he was in custody in 1971. Gauteng.
Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)
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22.10.2018

South Africa: Johannesburg: Former apartheid police officer Joao Rodrigues appears at the at the South Gauteng high court, Rodrigues was an officer in the apartheid-era police's feared security branch, is accused of being part of a group of policemen who murdered Ahmed Timol while he was in custody in 1971. Gauteng. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) 762 22.10.2018

The apartheid activist died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg.

Former apartheid security police officer Joao Rodrigues has filed an application to appeal the High Court in Johannesburg’s decision to deny him a permanent stay of prosecution for the 1971 murder of activist Ahmed Timol.

Judge Seun Moshidi ruled that Rodrigues’ argument based on his old age should not be taken into consideration but would be a factor during the trial and sentencing.

“The refusal of a permanent stay of prosecution is not a signalling that we are required to be vengeful to those who are alleged to have committed serious crimes in the past but rather, an affirmation that the principles of accountability and responsibility for the breaching for the rules of society stand at the doorway of our new constitutional order,” Moshidi said at the time.

In his court papers, Rodrigues argues that the court misdirected itself by instituting criminal proceedings against him 47 years after the incident, which he believes infringes on his right to a fair trial.

He said the judge failed to consider the deliberate political interference at the highest political level, which caused the substantial delay.

His representative maintains it would be unfair to put Rodrigues on trial because the two policemen who left him with Timol in the room from where he plunged to his death are now deceased and therefore cannot testify.

Rodrigues claimed at the time that he saw Timol jump out of a window, but could not save him because he tripped over a chair.

Timol died in 1971 after falling from the 10th floor of the then John Vorster Square police station in Johannesburg, where he had been detained.

The original inquest held in 1972 concluded that Timol committed suicide, with most of the evidence centred around Rodrigues’s testimony.

However, in 2017, Judge Billy Mothle ruled that Timol did not commit suicide but had rather been murdered.

Rodrigues was charged in July 2018.

– African News Agency

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