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Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission – Hearing Number 120 | 11 November 2020

Three months of absence from public sitting, not from sitting, chairperson clarifies

 

The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) resumed its public sittings after three months of closed-door sitting and not a break, chairperson Gabrielle Louise McIntyre has clarified.

Mrs McIntyre made the remarks at yesterday’s session which was hearing number 120 following reports that the commission had resumed its overall sittings after a three-month break.

She explained that during the past three months, the TRNUC which is a complaint-driven process mandated to investigate cases of human rights violation and abuse committed during, or in relation to the Coup of 1977, has been active, listening to cases in close sessions.

During yesterday’s open session, two individuals, namely Nicholas Labiche and Norcy Dick gave accounts as witness and complainant respectively.

 

Case 0147: Gerry Sopha

 

The first person to appear in open session yesterday was ex-taxi driver Nicholas Labiche who was called in as a potential witness in case 0147 filed by Gerry Sopha in relation to the death of his brother David Sopha, who along with Rival Dugasse escaped from prison. According to the complainant, Mr Labiche may have assisted them at the time of their escape from prison.

In his complaint before the commission in February 2020, Gerry Sopha stated that his brother, David, was assassinated by the police in a house at Pointe Au Sel in 1999.

David was serving a 15-year sentence in 1998 for rape and robbery and had in 1999 escaped from Long Island Prison, along with fellow inmate Dugasse.

In his reply, Mr Labiche explained that he knows the Sopha family quite well and that on the particular day he was at his residence at Fisherman’s Cove Estate, Bel Ombre, having his dinner before resuming duty as taxi driver.

While inside (he could not recall the time) he heard his name being called and upon going outside, he saw a man named Christophe in a white car who informed him that two guys (inside the car) were looking for a taxi to go to town.

He agreed, went inside, got dressed and once back outside, he saw David Sopha leaning against Christophe’s car.

According to Mr Labiche, he was not aware that David Sopha had escaped from prison and took them to town.

Once in town, he was about to enter the Taxi Stand when they instructed him to take them to La Misère instead.

Once at La Misère, he turned at the View Point, before they instructed him where to stop and drop them, where they paid him R100 and left.

Mr Labiche said following that, he never saw David and the other person whom he said he did not know.

Once at the Taxi Stand, while chatting with other taxi drivers, Mr Labiche learned that David Sopha had escaped from prison and the next morning he reported at the Beau Vallon Police Station that he had driven the escaped convict and another person to La Misère.

When quizzed on whether he interacted with the passengers during the trip, Mr Labiche said no and claimed that they were not carrying anything with them.

He also noted that there were houses in the area where he dropped the two escaped prisoners.

 

Case 107: Norcy Dick

 

In his second appearance yesterday, following his first sitting on Monday, complainant Norcy Dick began his account with some information regarding Case 0123 filed by Juan Salaman, regarding the death of Marjorie Baker, the popular radio presenter at the then Radio Seychelles, on the night of September 5, 1986.

Mr Dick made some alleged statements regarding the incident which all pointed at the plot to overthrow President Rene in 1986.

He gave out several names which he said should come forward to shed light on the murder.

Regarding his own complaint, Mr Dick said he spent six years at the Grand Police prison for drug-related offence, and this period in his life was a living hell.

He explained that at that time there were three poles named ‘Kiss Me’, ‘I love you’ and ‘Darling’ which were used to attach inmates to.

He added that they also had to break rocks into aggregates.

Upon his release from prison, Mr Dick said he was harassed at Beau Vallon by police officers of the ex-task force unit in a brown bus, but due to the existing crowd at that time, they could not harm him.

He explained that on the following day, he was having a drink with a friend at Mare Anglaise when a police officer in a car approached him and asked him to come with him to the police station.

Once at the Beau Vallon police station, he was informed that he was being arrested and was put in a cell overnight.

The following morning he was taken to the Central Police Station where he was ordered into a black cell where he was beaten and tortured by several officers in an attempt to make him pass out so that they can carry him to another location and according to him to kill him.

He explained that he managed stay conscious and was later taken to court where he was remanded for 14 days at the Mont Fleuri Police Station without being informed of his charges.

According to him, the authority was attempting to prevent his family from seeing him, but thanks to Bernard George and Jean-François Ferrari who insisted he be allowed to see a doctor, he was released without any charge.

Following that, Mr Dick said he began to suffer from some mental issues which escalated to a point where he said he killed his own daughter unconsciously.

The incident caused him to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital, but was later declared fit to stand trial.

After being on remand for eight months, he was convicted on manslaughter charge and jailed for seven years.

Mr Dick further claimed that her daughter’s body parts were sold abroad.

He also gave some evidence related to Case 0147 on how David Sopha and Rival Dugasse escaped from the Long Island prison.

 

Roland Duval

 

 

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