Accused reject plea offers

Franziska Blöchligers case is being heard at Wynberg Magistrates Court.

The trial of the men linked to the rape and murder of 16-year-old Franziska Blöchliger has been postponed to Wednesday November 23 after three of the four turned down plea deals (“Trial postponed for plea bargain talks” Bulletin September 22).

The four men appeared at Wynberg Magistrate’s Court 6 on Monday October 17. Howard Oliver and Jonathan Jonas have been charged with the teenager’s murder, rape and aggravated robbery.

Wearing a red track top and leg irons, Mr Oliver entered the courtroom and was sent to the cells below. Just after 11am, when called, for some reason, he kept everyone waiting. Meanwhile, standing in the dock, were the other three men who are all out on bail.

Daniel Easter had been seated among about 26 people filling the benches of the courtroom. At his feet, was a length of white plastic drainpipe. In his jeans back pocket were pieces of bracket to hang them. He and Jerome Moses were allegedly involved in the sale of Franziska’s cellphone. On Monday, their bail was extended.

During the brief hearing, which was barely audible, lawyers representing three of the four accused rejected the State’s offer of a plea agreement for their clients. It was expected that the State and defence lawyers would announce details of a plea agreement, but lawyers for Mr Oliver, Mr Moses and Mr Easter said they were not happy with what the State had offered their clients.

Discussions between the State and legal aid lawyer Ricardo Buys for Mr Jonas were continuing. The proposed plea agreement was not disclosed.

In April, Mr Jonas had indicated through his legal representative that he was abandoning his bail application. Mr Moses’s lawyer, Kevin Pietersen, said negotiations were ongoing and that they could not finalise them before Monday.

Mr Oliver’s attorney, Monique Carstens, said they had opted for a trial and would apply for bail during the next court appearance.

“The battle that we are going to fight is that it’s going to be a schedule six bail application,” she said explaining that in a schedule five, the onus rests with the accused to convince the court why he needs to get bail.

“Schedule six is even more than that. He will need to convince the court why he needs to be granted bail and will need to prove exceptional circumstances. We believe we have definite exceptional circumstances which the court cannot ignore,” said Ms Carstens.

Franziska, of Muizenberg, disappeared while jogging in Tokai Park on Monday March 7 (“Franziska remembered,” Bulletin, March 10). She had separated from her mother and sister during the early afternoon and was to meet up with them again.

When Franziska did not arrive at the meeting place, a frantic search ensued. Her body was found 30 minutes later in the early evening, close to where her mother and sister had been waiting. She had been robbed of her iPhone and watch.

According to the autopsy report, she had been suffocated, with ligature marks around her neck indicating she had been throttled.