2 suspects related to arms case in Seychelles remanded by order of Supreme Court
Two suspects arrested in connection with a terrorism case in which three people have already been charged have been remanded by the Supreme Court until January 28.
The Supreme Court on Thursday heard how two former officials of Seychelles Defence Forces were connected to the purchasing and eventual importing of arms into the country.
The two men were arrested on December 29 in connection to the ongoing case against Leslie Benoiton, a senior officer of the Seychelles Defence Forces, Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura Valabhji.
On December 15, the Seychelles Police Force was called to assist the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) in a money laundering case it had brought before the courts. This came after a large consignment of illegal arms was found during a search of the Valabhjis’ residence at Morne Blanc.
The police apprehended the two suspects allegedly involved in the arms purchasing as done through the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces as it was known back then.
The prosecution further stated that suspect number two was authorised by the first suspect to take responsibility for the weapons, which were destined to be used as former President France Albert Rene’s personal bodyguards at his residence.
Suspect number two, an 81-year-old man, was in charge of the former president’s bodyguards at the time. A search carried out at Rene’s residence has produced the arms in question.
However, although the police have searched both suspects’ homes at Hermitage and Bel Eau, they have not found illegal arms on the premises.
In its case to further remand the two former army officials, the prosecution represented by Nissa Thompson said that the police would need more time for further investigation.
The prosecution also asked the court to further detain the two as they had the possibility to hinder any investigations the police are undertaking due to their financial and socio-economic affluence.
Basil Hoareau, representing the first suspect, said that “the prosecution was attempting to connect the first suspect with a batch of weapons already seized by saying that the serial numbers were the same.”
He argued that the two men were carrying direct orders and should they be charged for the crime, it worried him that tomorrow anyone carrying out direct orders will find themselves behind bars albeit temporarily despite carrying lawful orders.
“The police are trying to use remand as a means of punishment when punishment should only come after a conviction,” said Hoareau.
Meanwhile, in the other case concerning the disappearance of the $50 million from the country’s coffers, former first lady Sarah Zarquani Rene will continue spending the rest of the festive season in detention.
This follows Govinden’s decision to maintain his decision of setting bail at $2 million with sureties of $1 million each.
“I am still of the view that the circumstances related in my previous order are still the same,” he said.
The decision came after Zarquani Rene’s lawyer, Joel Camille, had asked the court to review the previous decision on grounds that she does not have the means and was having difficulty securing the two sureties.
Camille had asked that the courts impose the same bail conditions as they had with other accused, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.
Loustau-Lalanne paid SCR250,000 ($18,837) bail bond, providing two sureties of SCR 100,000 ($7,535) each as well as handing his passport to the authorities. He also must report to the Mont Fleuri Police Station at 9 am every day.
All the accused will appear before the courts on January 7 when the defence will raise its objections.
Counsel for both sides also informed Govinden that they had reached an agreement that they would receive all documents the ACCS has processed by January 30.