6 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, WARRI- DUTCH-Nigerian activist, Comrade Sunny Ofehe, standing trial in The Netherlands for plotting to blow up oil pipelines, belonging to Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, in Nigeria told a Rotterdam Court on Monday that he was not a terrorist and had never been involved in terrorist acts in his life.
However, the pre-trial proceedings , which was initially adjourned to today (Wednesday) following a heated argument between Ofehe’s lawyer, Ed Manders and the public prosecutor , Gert Veurink on the admissibility of the case has been suspended until further notice.
Ofehe, who is the founder/president of the Hope for Niger-Delta Campaign, HNDC, an international Non-Governmental Organization, NGO, based in Rotterdam, had told the court, when he was asked to make comments in Monday’s preliminary hearing, “Three weeks ago, I received this accusation of terrorism: blowing pipelines that belong to Shell in Nigeria, I have been a human rights activist all my life, following principles of non violence, I have never planned terrorist acts in my life. I find both charges damaging for my name, I believe in the court system of this country”.
It was gathered that part of the terrorism charge against Ofehe was that he conspired with somebody to blow up a pipeline line around Ekpoma in Edo state, said to be supplying crude oil to Kaduna Refinery.
But his lawyer, Ed Manders, maintained the defense team was taken by surprise with the new charge of terrorism, as the evidence and documents, codenamed, “Tokyo” upon which the prosecutor built his terrorism charges against Ofehe were not known to the defense.
Specifically, he asked the court to bar the prosecutor from the case for withholding the evidence on which his client was charged for terrorism, as his action would make the trial unfair because the prosecution and defense do not have access to the same evidence. The other four charges included human trafficking and forgery.
Ed Manders told the court that the new charge was based on three tapped telephone conversations, although the evidence was insufficient according to him. He said that he had listened to three of the tapes upon which the prosecutor seemed to have came up with a case of blowing up pipeline against Ofehe, but, was at a loss as to how discussions in pidgin English between his client and somebody on his mission to film scenes of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger-Delta could translate to plot to bomb pipeline.
The three judges, according to reports monitored on Radio Netherlands, deliberated on the matter and concluded that there were no grounds to declare the prosecutor inadmissible, although they understood that the accused had been taken by surprise with the new terrorism charge.
However, they asked the prosecutor to respond in writing within six weeks to the defense lawyer’s requests for evidence. The case is suspended until a new date is set for the trial to resume with a new preliminary hearing.