Seychelles’ former President Michel denies allegations of ordering military officers to commit murder
Perpetrators of crimes who are seeking amnesty before Seychelles’ Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) for human rights violations that resulted from the coup d’état of 1977 have linked two of former presidents to the crimes.
In three open amnesty hearings on June 1 and June 2, five perpetrators of murder crimes came forward to outline their roles in each crime.
Jemmy Marengo, one of the perpetrators in all three cases, said that orders to mastermind the crimes came either from late President France-Albert Rene or former President James Michel.
Rene took over power after the coup d’état on June 5, 1977 and ruled the island until he stepped down on July 14, 2004, due to ill health. James Michel, the then vice-president took over the presidency until he stepped down on October 16, 2016 when he handed over the presidency to his then vice-president, Danny Faure.
Former President James Michel told SNA on Wednesday, that these are “malicious allegations”.
“Firstly, I cannot take legal action against the persons who have made these malicious and unfounded statements against me as they are protected under the TRNUC Act. The individuals concerned took full advantage of the protection they enjoyed under the law to maliciously defame me. However, I categorically and vehemently deny all allegations made against me. I was not involved in any manner whatsoever in the illegal act committed by any of these individuals.”
According to the Commission’s Act of 2018, any evidence provided before TRNUC is not admissible in criminal or civil proceedings and the Commission cannot send people to jail for human rights violations they determine were committed by them in relation to the coup d’état of 1977 and events in recent years.
The allegations that were made by the former military officers during the amnesty hearings took place during discussions between the families of the victims and the perpetrators of the crimes. The families did not accept their requests for forgiveness as they did not believe them to be sincere.
Case 205 and Case 207
In the case of the death of Claude Monnaie in 2003, whose truck was set on fire, Marengo, who was a captain in the military at the time, said he got a call from a senior officer asking him if he knew of a certain pickup truck to which he answered “yes.”
“The major called and told me that [James] Michel, who was the vice-president at the time, had given an order to destroy this pickup. I told Marc that I was not going to destroy anybody’s pickup,” said Marengo.
Marengo alleged that following the first order, he came under more pressure to complete the job.
“A week later the officer called me again, saying that … Michel was asking if what he had requested would not be done. I just told him that the right opportunity had not presented itself. On a Thursday, I got another call telling me that Vice-President Michel was angry and that when he got to Praslin on Saturday, the pickup must have been destroyed [by then],” he continued.
Concerning the death of Dhamendra Eulentin, whose body was found in the sea at Providence in 2007, Marengo said that he again got orders from higher up.
“One day, without expecting it, I got a call from Mr. Rene. He asked me if I could come to his office. When I got there, he asked me if I knew Dhamendra Eulentin. I didn’t know why he was asking me that. I answered yes, I know him. He told that Dhamendra Eulentin is dangerous, he is doing a lot of dangerous things, and he should be killed. I was surprised by this. He told me that he will have me make arrangements for him to get killed,” said Marengo.
He added that Rene pressured him several times, provided him with SCR25,000, and told him to get Alain Jeannevol and Ken Jean-Charles to do the job.
“With the amount of pressure he was putting, we had to do the job. I knew that if I didn’t do it, I would be in serious trouble,” said Marengo.
He further added that at the time Rene was no longer the president of the country, only the president of the ruling party. He added that “possibly there were other people, either the president or the commissioner of police, who knew of what was happening.”
The mother of Dhamendra Eulentin, Marise Eulentin, debated Marengo’s statement that the order came from Rene. She said that according to the information she had collected, the order came from James Michel, who was then the president.
Case 090 and Case 270
In the case of the killing of Ricky Hermitte in 2006, Marengo said that President Rene approached him asking if he knew Ricky Hermitte, even informing him that Hermitte lived close to Marengo at Roche Caiman.
“He called me in again asking if I knew Ricky Hermitte and I said yes. That is when he told me that arrangements had to be made to kill Ricky Hermitte. I didn’t speak about this with anyone. Then I was called in again regarding the same matter,” said Marengo.