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Life-term inmate Florin fails in parole bid

Written by on April 22, 2024

An inmate serving a sentence of life imprisonment, after being convicted of a headline-grabbing murder committed in 1998, has failed with an attempt to achieve his release on parole.

The date when life-term prisoner Thomas Florin was sentenced, and not the date when his offences were committed, determines under which law Florin’s release on parole can be considered, judge Boas Usiku concluded in a judgement delivered in the Windhoek High Court on Friday.

In the judgement, Usiku dismissed an application in which Florin asked the court to declare that he is immediately eligible to be considered for release on parole.

Florin also asked the court to direct the chairperson of the National Release Board and the Institutional Release Committee to immediately consider him for release on parole and to make a recommendation on that issue to the commissioner general of the Namibian Correctional Service.

In addition to that, Florin asked the court to declare that the minimum period of 25 years in prison that an inmate sentenced to life imprisonment should serve in terms of the Correctional Service Act of 2012 before the person is eligible to be considered for release on parole, is inconsistent with the Constitution’s protection of respect for human dignity, equality and freedom from discrimination, and fair trial.

Florin (57), who is a German citizen, has been behind bars since June 1998, when he was arrested in connection with the killing of his wife, Monika Florin (30), at Swakopmund in early June 1998.

He was accused of murdering his wife and thereafter cutting up her body, stripping it of its flesh, cooking the remains and hiding her bones in the ceiling of their house at Swakopmund.

Florin denied guilt during his trial in the High Court.

After he was convicted of murder, violating a body, attempting to defeat or obstruct the course of justice and three other offences, Florin was sentenced to life imprisonment in December 1999.

The judge who sentenced him also recommended to the prison authorities that Florin should not be released before he had served at least 15 years of his sentence.

Usiku noted in his judgement that according to a Supreme Court a judgement delivered in August 2016, the date when an offender was sentenced, rather than the date their crime was committed, determines under what law their eligibility for release on parole would be considered.

In its judgement, the Supreme Court stated that offenders sentenced to life imprisonment after 15 August 1999, which was when the 1998 Prisons Act came into operation, have the right to be considered for release on parole or probation given to them under the Correctional Service Act of 2012, which replaced the 1998 Prisons Act.

In terms of a regulation under the Correctional Service Act, an offender sentenced to life imprisonment is eligible to be considered for release on parole or probation after serving at least 25 years in a correctional facility without committing and being convicted of any crime or offence during that period, the Supreme Court noted in its judgement.

Florin was one of 26 life-sentence prisoners involved in the case in which the Supreme Court gave that judgement.

Florin was sentenced after the 1998 Prisons Act came into operation, and the Supreme Court’s August 2016 decision on sentences of life imprisonment binds him, Usiku said.

With his judgement, Usiku contradicted a finding of fellow High Court judge Shafimana Ueitele, who in a judgement in March 2022 concluded that Florin is serving his sentence under the 1959 Prisons Act, which is the predecessor of the 1998 Prisons Act. Ueitele also found that Florin is not eligible to receive remission of a third of his sentence under the 1959 act.

South African senior counsel Roelof du Plessis, assisted by Apie Small and instructed by Stoan Horn, represented Florin during the hearing of his application before Usiku.

Deputy government attorney Mkhululi Khupe represented the prison authorities and the government.

The post Life-term inmate Florin fails in parole bid appeared first on The Namibian.

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