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Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) | 08 November 2019

Commission hears 3 new complaints and other witnesses

 

Case 187: Roger Teeroomooljee brings forth complaint of victimisation and unfair termination from police force

Roger Teeroomooljee appeared before the commission for the second time yesterday, having provided information as a witness about the people’s militia during his first appearance. He yesterday appeared to outline his own complaint of victimisation after he was mistreated within the police force and his employment unfairly terminated.

Mr Teeroomooljee highlighted numerous incidences he experienced during his employment within the police force which he considers as victimisation and malice. He commenced by noting that his problems started as of October 3, 2006, when as a member of the police force, he was instructed to standby and photograph the happenings at the opposition gathering, led by Wavel Ramkalawan, at the National Library in which they were calling for their radio station, Radio Freedom. He, dressed in civilian clothing, did as instructed and when the peaceful gathering turned disorderly after Mr Ramkalawan and supporters were physically attacked, he continued to take photographs, where he says a member of the Special Support Unit (SSU) threatened him, saying that he supports the opposition, fired a rubber bullet at him.

A few months after the incident, he was called to present his statement to the Inquiry Board established to investigate the happenings of that very day and noted that many pictures taken by him on the day were missing from the exhibits. According to Mr Teeroomooljee’s account, from that day, he was closely monitored and persecuted in his work.

He went on to explain that he was transferred to the Para-military unit (PMU) and later to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) over the years before his termination, highlighting numerous incidents in which he felt that he was singled out from other officers, his actions questioned and his reputation tarnished due to false accusations including that he stole evidence in the form of gold jewellery and watches in a theft case which occurred at African Jewels jewellery shop in town in 2013. He noted that he was due to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) on August 14 to return to Seychelles on September 12, 2013 but was searched and his little boy stripped naked to be searched at the airport before they were allowed to board the plane, upon the instructions of then Minister Joel Morgan, who suggested he was leaving the country with the stolen property.

During his time away in the UK, Mr Teeroomooljee made reference to an article published by a local media house, allegedly by Martin Aglae, who Mr Teeroomooljee claims has a grudge against him after he had arrested and dealt with him in relation to some criminal matters, branding him as a “thieving police officer” and detailing the previous day’s events at the airport, eventually leading to his termination.

Mr Teeroomooljee continued on to state that he was presented with his dismissal letter on August 14, 2015, allegedly under the instruction of Minister Morgan without merit. He subsequently filed a case in court, which he won. The judge in the matter, Samia Govinden, delivered her verdict in favour of Mr Teeroomooljee on October 28, 2015. He was also awarded damages.

“The fact that we were compensated goes to show that we had not committed any wrong doing and were simply doing our jobs as we were supposed to,” Mr Teeroomooljee asserted.

Mr Teeroomooljee also made note of an incident where he claims he was to be arrested by army Captain Jemmy Marengo at gun point in Market Street, seeking an apology for all his sufferings, noting that his reputation has been tarnished and holding former President James Michel accountable for violations of his right on the police force.

 

Case 007: Angelin Labiche case; commission requests evidence from Kevin Adrienne in relation to Mr Labiche’s arrest and 8-month detention

The commission requested Mr Adrienne’s evidence in relation to the case of Angelin Labiche who claimed that he was imprisoned for a period of 8 months and 5 days, while an investigation was being undertaken by the police, with respect to his alleged involvement in the growing of drugs at Barbarons.

Mr Labiche claimed that Mr Adrienne was also imprisoned with him at the time and the commission expected Mr Adrienne to corroborate the evidence provided by Mr Labiche, on account that no files were recovered neither from the army nor the police.

Mr Adrienne confirmed that Mr Labiche was arrested and detained with him in the army camp at Barbarons, although he noted that he was unaware of the reason why Labiche was being detained and was unaware how long Mr Labiche was detained.

 

Case 058: Marina Pool case: Jacques Pool enlightens commission as to his mother’s complaint in which she claims that the government built roads on her land without her consent

Jacques Pool appeared before the commission in relation to the complaint of his mother, Marina Pool, which she presented before the commission on Wednesday.

Mr Pool presented a set of documents to the commission relating to roads built on his parents’ land noting that his mother had been sold two plots of land in 1973, four years before the Coup, by a Mrs Grandcourt who also sold a nearby plot to the government (T706).

He outlined the circumstances in which the government illegally, without his mother’s consent, upon having their T706 surveyed, had outlined a larger property, and in doing so, it would seem they encroached on his mother’s property (T703) on which he claims, the road to Dame le Roi was built.

Mr Pool went on to inform the commission that a second road was built on the upper part of their property where his parents had intended to build a house, accusing the government of malice. He further elaborated to state that after his mother had plot T703 subdivided into four smaller plots in 1985 to be sold, when the one-party state was still in full swing, she requested that the road be excised from the sale but her request was not considered, he claims, to stop her from being able to seek redress in future.

Mr Pool proposed that the government conduct a proper survey of the roads based on existing documents and documents in the family’s possession, and compensate his mother fairly since the road is of benefit to the community.

 

Case 0036: Frances Kin Wah Ah Time: Vincent Jeannevole sheds light on military structure, death of Sonny Elizabeth and more

Vincent Jeannevole, a former army Colonel, was requested to appear in the case of Brian Victor and Case 056 of the Elizabeth family, both who filed complaints concerning the death of Sony Elizabeth and the near-death of Brian Victor.

While he could not provide evidence pertaining to the case of Brian Victor, he shed light on other cases and provided the commissioners with some insight into the military structure in the years following the coup.

He noted that the military was not well-structured but fulfilled the role of protecting the system explaining the types of activities that the army were involved with at the time including spying on said enemies of the system, although he noted that conditions were tough for army personnel at the time as they were expected to work round the clock.

Speaking of the case of Michael Hoffman and Sony Elizabeth who were ambushed and allegedly tortured on July 21, 1983, after they were allegedly driven to Sans Soucis by army Captain Jemmy Marengo, Mr Jeannevole remarked that he encountered Hoffman at the Pirates Arms restaurant everyday as he was going about his ‘intelligence gathering’ noting that Hoffman was “so desperate” to buy arms and that Mr Marengo would frequently enquire about Hoffman’s activities from him.

In relation to the matter of Sonny Elizabeth, a sportsman and postman at the time, who he noted was a Democratic Party (DP) supporter, describing the young chap as “not a threat to society” continuing on to state that anyone, even Hoffman’s mother, accompanying Hoffman in the car that fateful day would have also been killed by Jemmy Marengo. According to Mr Jeannevole, Mr Marengo had made a deal with Hoffman to sell him guns at the army camp in L’exile and Hoffman had trusted him.

Mr Jeannevole continued on to state that he has on numerous occasions asked Mr Marengo what happened to Hoffman and Elizabeth but he met with the same reply each time: “He wanted arms, I gave him arms”, claiming that Mr Marengo is capable of “killing” in his efforts towards higher ranks within the army.

Elaborating on the army structure, Mr Jeannevole started off explaining that former President Albert Rene was in charge of the military forces from June 5 1977, the day of the Coup to 1986, with former President James Michel as the Chief of Staff speaking at length about the hierarchy of the army.

He stated that he too was imprisoned on Ile Long and will be setting out his complaint on January 7, 2020.

 

Case 0182: Clifford Edmond and wife Mrs Edmond

Mr Edmond set out the details of his arrest as a young footballer in 1978, as he was warming up with his fellow teammates of the national team at Stad Popiler when he was instructed to follow an officer to the Central Police Station where he was detained in a cell.

He recalled his second arrest in 1979 where he worked at the college, as a laboratory technician, where he was approached by a vehicle where he was handed a presidential detaining order and he was once again taken to the Central Police Station. He, along with other detainees, were instructed to board a minibus where they were taken to the prison in Union Vale where they were forced to sleep on plywood. He claims that then Commissioner of Police James Pillay said the detainees were involved in planning a Coup against President Rene.

On December 23 the same year he was released by Commissioner Pillay but the following year, the victimisation started. His employment at the college had been terminated and he was subsequently not able to get a job. He thus left Seychelles for Italy where he stayed with his sister but he returned shortly after but “when I returned, things were worse than you would expect”.

Mr Edmond went on to note that he approached Ogilvy Berlouis for a security clearance to facilitate his job search and Berlouis threatened his safety for dismissing an offer to be a spy for the state. He, then fearing for his safety, fled to Italy with his family until multi-party state was announced when he returned. He recalls that the evening after his return, he woke up in the middle of the night to see the nozzle of a gun pointed at him through the window and the perpetrator fled. He said he is still fearful.

Mrs Edmond also explained matters from her perspective starting from 1977 when she was offered a position within the government as an Assistant Housing Officer but her salary was suspended and she was informed by letter that her appointment was terminated on grounds of misconduct and her termination effective on July 1, 1979 without any warnings. Mr Edmond was arrested 3 months later.

Complainant Carlette Ball (Tall) helped her secure a job at Shell, a British-owned company where she worked until she left Seychelles with their son, in July 1988 to join her husband in Italy four years after his departure. Their daughter had joined her father earlier.

In regards to the property, allegedly acquired while they were in Italy, Mrs Edmond noted that the house had been constructed while her husband had already left for Italy. She noted that one day at work, she was informed that the government is acquiring the land and having worked at the housing ministry she was aware of the processes and had informed the ministry that she would rent the house, in order to finance the loan. According to her, when she went to query at the ministry, her rent request and the response was missing from the file. Mrs Edmond provided the commission with a final payment receipt date July 1, 1987 for the housing loan and the property acquired.

They have tried to fight for the property and seek compensation and was offered just over R100,000 from which R60,000 was deducted and returned to the government for a small plot at North East Point which is not suitable for building and proposed the government construct a house for them. Mrs Edmond remarked that she feels as though they were targeted because Mr Edmond’s parents were supporters of DP. According to her the plot, then V2468, has since been subdivided into two plots.

 

Case 0034: Willy Laporte’s complaint on his imprisonment and cancellation of his nightclub’s operating license

Mr Laporte detailed his arrest in 1979 and detention at Union Vale prison along with other political prisoners including Gerard Hoareau and Max Racombo, remarking that contrary to his counterparts, he was never questioned until his release. During his arrest, he and some other detainees were condemned to solitary confinement recalling that once, a demi grenade was thrown into their holding cell, and he and his cellmates were very fearful.

When there remained only 13 male prisoners, they were transferred to the women’s section detailing the conditions prisoners were confined to during detention. During his detention, the nightclub he had recently opened remained closed on account of the curfew in place and he claims that he was taken to see Ogilvy Berlouis who at one point informed him that his club could open provided he leaves the country. He was released later that day along with two other detainees on August 2, 1980 and he was supposed to leave the country two days later for the United Kingdom (UK) as per the arrangements made by Berlouis with Mr Laporte’s partner but he tended to some affairs before eventually leaving.

Mr Laporte left for South Africa to meet Gerard Hoareau later on condition that the license for his nightclub be restored. However, the license was not renewed in 1981 after having been cancelled for good towards the end of 1980.

The nightclub was located at Anse aux Pins near the police station. Mr Laporte also provided the commission with some information as to his role in the resistance movement than planned a counter-coup, along with Michael (Mike) Hoare to overthrow former President Rene’s system.

 

Laura Pillay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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