Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hodes accused of forgery

17 August 2010, 08:32
By Omphitlhetse Mooki

Accusations of forgery surfaced in the Johannesburg High Court yesterday when the State questioned the authenticity of cellphone records used by Glenn Agliotti's counsel to cross-examine a witness.

In dispute were records defence counsel Laurance Hodes SC used to question MTN cellphone analyst Hilda du Plessis on records she had submitted to court. These were records of calls made between Agliotti, Clinton Nassif and others during September 2005 - the month mining magnate Brett Kebble was killed.

Using his own MTN records, Hodes picked up irregularities in that one of the calls that reflected on his statements did not reflect on statements presented by Du Plessis in court.

This opened the floor for an argument that centred on the forgery of documents, with the State insisting that Hodes acquired the records illegally.

The prosecutor, Kholeka Gcaleka, said records in Hodes's possession could have been "altered" as they were in an electronic form.

"If its on a disc, then it can be manipulated," Gcaleka said.

She said only the Director of Public Prosecutions had the authority to subpoena MTN in line with provisions of section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act, requesting that such records be made available.

Du Plessis agreed when Judge Frans Kgomo said "a person has to apply through the Criminal Procedure Act to get it (records)", adding that this fact was stipulated in the MTN privacy and confidentiality conditions.

These were detailed records, showing the time calls were made and Agliotti's location at the time he made or received the calls.

"In the interest of justice", Judge Kgomo then adjourned proceedings early to allow Du Plessis time to get documentation to support her statement.

"I think in the interest of justice this witness will come with such authority that stipulates a person cannot access such files without applying to relevant authorities," said the judge.

Among calls Du Plessis detailed during her evidence-in-chief was a call Agliotti made to Nigel McGurk on the evening of September 22, 2005.

When McGurk testified in court, he said Agliotti had called him that day, instructing him to "call off the boys".

It was, however, impossible for Du Plessis to reveal details of conversations between Agliotti and McGurk, and everyone else involved, the court heard.

Other calls detailed earlier yesterday were calls Agliotti made to Nassif, McGurk, Mikey Schultz and Faizel Smith, claimed to have been instructions for Kebble's shooting.

These calls were made on September 26, during the day and at night. This was the day an initial plan to shoot Kebble was aborted.

Convicted drug trafficker Agliotti has pleaded not guilty to Kebble's murder, conspiracy to murder Kebble, and conspiracy to murder Allan Gray auditor Stephen Mildenhall and three others.

The State sought to have an affidavit he made during his December 2006 bail hearing admitted as evidence, but Judge Kgomo dismissed it yesterday, saying a magistrate who presided over the matter had not warned Agliotti of the implications of submitting such a statement.

Agliotti said in the statement that Kebble's murder was an "assisted suicide" and admitted he was involved.

"The late Brett Kebble assisted and played a material role in the planning of his death, which was in fact an assisted suicide. He initially, and before I became involved, planned to provide the pilot of his aeroplane with a tablet placed in a drink that would have caused his death and the consequent fatal crash of the plane, with Brett Kebble being killed as a passenger thereof," Agliotti said in the affidavit.

"After I became involved, it was decided to make his death look like a carjacking. After numerous dry runs, he was killed in this way by persons who have been identified by the State and apparently granted section 204 indemnity for the roles they played," he said.

Had Agliotti been "properly warned", this statement would have been admitted, said Judge Kgomo, ruling on the matter.

"The warning must be issued before the accused makes an admission in court. That would ensure a fair trial by an accused person. Application by the State is refused."

The trial continues today.

This article was originally published on page 3 of The Star on August 17, 2010

The Star

Using Jackie Selebi tactics here?

How amazing - do some people never learn from others?

The silk does not seem to be pure!

It was the duty of the accused's legal team to make the accused and court aware of the warning?

Both sides seemed to have erred here!

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