Valabhji case: Legal fees unpaid, Seychelles Supreme Court orders release of funds
The Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) has refuted the allegations made by Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura that it is interfering with the couple’s right to have a legal representation of their choice.
Representing herself in the Supreme Court on Monday, where several motions were filed, Laura Valabhji said that ACCS has been reluctant in approving payment for the couple’s legal fees.
She said that they had been informed that “this would deplete the accounts that the commission planned to seize.”
The Kobre & Kim law firm based in the UK had been representing the Valabhji couple, however, the couple said they have found another law firm in the UK to take their case. Yet, they have been unable to do so due to their funds not being released.
The presiding judge in the case, Chief Justice Rony Govinden, has asked that the matter of payment be resolved as soon as possible in view that the arms trial is set to begin in December.
Since they were arrested in November last year, the Valabjhi couple has been remanded.
Mukesh Valabhji and former First Lady Sarah Zarqhani Rene are the only two charged on several counts of money laundering. Laura Valabjhi remains on remand in relation to a case concerning illegal firearms and the prevention of terrorism.
As part of several motions filed before the Supreme Court on Monday were also one concerning the couple’s wine collection as well as documents seized at their property.
The Supreme Court will reconvene in a fortnight to hear two motions filed by the Valabhji couple concerning their wine collection as well as documents seized at their property.
Another motion was one concerning a review of Valabhji’s digital equipment and documents seized at the couple’s property.
The last time the prosecution had filed a motion for the review of the defendant’s digital equipment – which include a laptop, USB drives, as well as mobile phones, Laura’s counsel Samantha Aglae had objected as her client is a lawyer by profession and doing so would breach Valabhji’s clients’ confidentiality.
On Monday, the court heard both sides propose a total of eight individuals with legal backgrounds to sift through the documents.
Govinden will hear the matter together with the other motions and give his decision in two weeks.