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Ruling in SPDF versus TRNUC case expected on July 31 | 14 July 2020

The Supreme Court has scheduled its ruling on the preliminary objections in the case of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces versus the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission for 9am on Friday July 31.

Supreme Court Justice Gustave Dodin provided his ruling date yesterday after hearing the preliminary objections of the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission’s (TRNUC) lawyer Karen Domingue and the arguments of the counsel representing the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF), Stefan Knights.

The SPDF brought petitions against the TRNUC to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the commission is overstepping its mandate by looking into the case of Alberto Antat and Roberto Payet, two SPDF privates who disappeared on Assomption island on Monday October 8, 2018.

In yesterday’s hearing, Mr Knights noted that the commission was acting beyond its mandated powers and hence why the SPDF was seeking a judicial review of the defendant’s decision.

He went as far as to state that the TRNUC was “meddling” in matters that do not concern the statutory body, and noted that the court should reign in the TRNUC which is “acting like an unruly horse”, a statement which he then retracted.

Lawyer Domingue brought a total of four preliminary objections against the SPDF’s petitions amongst which she noted that the SPDF cannot seek judicial review on a decision which was never taken by the TRNUC in the first place.

Her legal standpoint was that the SPDF is abusing its powers and acting in bad faith by bringing the petition to the Supreme Court.

“The petition was not brought to the court in the name of the Attorney General as it should have. Whenever a government entity sues another party, it is customary to use the caption Attorney General versus something or other,” lawyer Domingue told the media.

“The commission is a body which has the same power as the Supreme Court and obviously if it is not doing its job as mandated or abusing its powers, it should be put up for judicial review but there are no evidences to prove that this is the case.”

“It is to be noted that TRNUC does not take decisions. Usually a judicial review is necessary when a court or tribunal has taken a decision but the TRNUC does not hold the power to take decisions; it receives complaints, investigates them and evaluate whether these complaints are admissible under its mandate,” added lawyer Domingue.

She also highlighted that the TRNUC does not have powers to make decision, but only to make recommendations to the president who has the duty to bring these recommendations to the attention of the National Assembly.

“In regards to this case concerning the two privates who disappeared, the TRNUC has not made any determination in that regards – it has simply received complaints from the officers’ families, requested for the files which SPDF did not provide since they said they were investigating […], it is not as if the commission is working towards taking a decision. It is normal procedure for the TRNUC to request files from any government to see if the complaint is admissible or not.”

Arguing against these preliminary objections, Mr Knights stated that the SPDF does not need to seek permission to bring a petition to the Supreme Court.

He noted that the TRNUC’s arguments that it holds no decision-making power yet has been vested Supreme Court powers does not make sense, and is schizophrenic at best.

Judge Dodin expects to consider yesterday’s arguments as well as written submissions from both sides before making his ruling at the end of this month.

 

Elsie Pointe

 

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