Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission – Hearing number 92 | 24 July 2020
TRNUC hears more from witnesses
The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission yesterday heard more witnesses in open and closed sessions.
Ex-Lieutenant Colonel of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF), Jason Jacqueline who was also a former commander of the Seychelles People’s Militia in the 1980s, was the first witness to appear before the commission in open session.
He related the role and functions of the military-based civilian voluntary organisation. The commission had also wanted him to clarify the numerous complaints from different persons that the militia was used to spy, harass and terrorise people.
Mr Jacqueline said he was appointed as one of the commanders of the Seychelles People’s Militia made up of ordinary citizens in 1980. He added that he was in charge for the western region which included Anse Boileau, Grand Anse Mahe and Port Glaud districts. He claimed he had to liaise with the different districts administrators to discharge his duties as they had the role to mobilise people to join the militia. He added that apart from monitoring and organising patrols in the three districts by the militia under his command, he was also responsible for their training which included basic military drills and tactics and also the use of small arms (semi-automatic weapons).
He stated that the role of the voluntary organisation was to observe and patrol the different corners of the country, especially beaches, as there was a mercenary threat at that time and the beaches were identified as their potential point of entry. He said the militia worked from 9pm to 5am. He noted that all members of the militia were given arms and ammunitions, which were accountable for when they were posted at the different locations.
Mr Jacqueline acknowledged that some members of the militia did enter into confrontation with some people but alleged it was mostly during the time of the curfew after the failed mercenary attack of November 25, 1981 when a lot of people were found to be circulating at night, especially on beaches when they were supposed to be indoors. He claimed that the militia at that time in the state emergency back then, had the right to arrest these people.
He stated that in 1985, the Seychelles People’s Militia was reorganised, with different regional command posts and a central command centre based at Bel Air.
He added that the command post on Praslin supervised the activities of the militia on La Digue. He noted that after the reorganisation, the militia members received advance training in basic infantry tactics, using fully automatic weapons (AK-47) as compared to the light semi-automatic weapons they were using before.
Mr Jacqueline claimed that there were around 300 ordinary citizens, young and not so young from different strata of society in the Seychelles People’s Militia at that time. He said most of the confrontations between members of the militia and other persons were related to changes that had happened in the social structure following the coup d’Etat of June 5, 1977. This is because most of the members of the militia were supporters of the state and this could have possibly caused frustration on the part of people who were against the government.
He noted though that harassment and terrorising of persons were not tolerated in the militia. He insisted that the role of the militia at that time was not to spy, intimidate or to harass people but to infiltrate and act as a deterrent against the possibility of an invasion by mercenaries or of an attempted coup by other groups of people though it was not part of the intelligence cell.
He claimed that he had never encountered a policy stipulating that the militia was to act in the frontline to the regular army in the event of an invasion.
Case 0180: Cyril Lau-Tee
Through Skype, Claude Moulinié appeared as a witness in relation to Case 0180: Cyril Lau-Tee who in his evidence had claimed he hid weapons purchased from the army in his (Moulinié’s) house in 1981. The commission had also wanted to know from Mr Moulinié what he knew about the threats on Mr Lau-Tee’s life back then.
Clarifying his position, Mr Moulinié said he was approached for help by Mr Lau-Tee in 1983 and not in 1981 to ……..clean a few guns for him. He claimed that Mr Lau-Tee brought only one AK-47 with a full loaded magazine of 30 bullets in a gunny bag. He said at that time he was living with two other persons in a single room and claimed that it was not possible for him to take in a lot of arms to hide in that single room.
He said he kept the gun for some time as Mr Lau-Tee didn’t come back to collect it. He also said he gave a pistol to Mr Lau-Tee for a planned assassination on the Minister of the Defence at that time, Ogilvy Berlouis when he would visit his mother at Les Mamelles. He noted that the plan never materialised as the person responsible for the assassination could not carry it out.
Mr Moulinié stated that a few months later he was called into Mr Berlouis’ office at State House and was confronted as to where he got the pistol he gave to Mr Lau-Tee. The pistol was lying on Minister Berlouis’ desk. Upon refusal to do so, he said he was shocked when Mr Berlouis gave him the name of the person who gave him (Moulinié) the pistol.
He said he got scared and worried about the AK-47 in his possession and upon Mr Lau-Tee’s refusal to collect it, he gave the gun to another trusted person to get rid of it.
He said he never spoke to Mr Lau-Tee again until he met him in the United Kingdom. He noted that he is still wondering how the pistol he gave to Mr Lau-Tee ended up in the hands of Mr Berlouis, something he said he had never questioned Mr Lau-Tee about.
Mr Moulinié claimed that he made a mistake about not asking Mr Lau-Tee where the AK-47 had come from because had he known he would never have got involved. He added that he once met someone who looked like a spy working with the state who asked him to give him back his AK-47 and he replied he didn’t know anything about it.
He said he took a big risk to get involved with Mr Lau-Tee knowing that he (Moulinié) was known by the state to have been involved with Simon Denousse and Mike Asher who were killed the year before. He alleged that the day before leaving Seychelles (end of May 1984), the army searched the owner’s dwellings including his (Moulinié’s) room, looking for arms.
Case 0151: Adeline family
A member of the Adeline family was the last person before the commission yesterday afternoon to respond to evidence given before the commission by witnesses in relation to the acquisition of their (family) property at Anse Kerlan, Praslin, in 1980.