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The Truth, Reconciliation & National Unity Commission (TRNUC) | 19 November 2020

Three more witnesses give evidence

 

The Truth, Reconciliation & National Unity Commission (TRNUC) yesterday morning heard three witnesses in open session while it continued with the rest of its sessions in the afternoon behind closed doors.

 

CASE 0115 – Jean Dingwall

Former high-ranking army officer, Rolly Marie, was called in as a witness in CASE 0115 – Jean Dingwall concerning his arrest after a failed mercenary attack on the country in November 25, 1981.

Mr Dingwall had alleged that he was detained at the Union Vale Army Camp along with six mercenaries who were captured following the failed coup attempt and that he was suspected of facilitating and being involved in the mercenary attack. He further alleged that he was kept without formal charge and without legal representation. He had claimed that he was only released in August 1983 after signing a confession presented to him by Mr Marie.

He had also claimed that he had refused to sign the confession in the first place but he had to force himself to sign it later in the afternoon so that he could be released that day after being begged by Mr Marie.

Mr Marie, who claimed he interviewed Mr Dingwall many times during his confinement at the Union Vale Army camp, said that as the security advisor and also the chief presidential security officer, he was not involved in preparing confessions for people to sign other than being involved in making security briefings for the Security Council. He claimed that his written security briefs were taken to President Albert Rene and his high entourage in the Security Council for decision making. He said the confession agreement to be signed by Mr Dingwall was presented to him for delivery.

He said that he was not part of the Security Council that took decisions but only acted on information presented to him by the council for the protection of the president. He said that he had no knowledge at that time that Mr Dingwall was involved with the mercenary until he was arrested by the police. He stated that, at that time, the decision for length of time that someone was to spent in jail was in the hands of the president.

Mr Marie also denied being involved in any decision making for people to be arrested and jailed or even following or listening to people’s calls, although he was in charge of intelligence.

 

CASE 005 – Carlette Ball

Juliana Betsy was the second witness before the commission in open session in CASE 005 – Carlette Ball in relation to the disappearance of her husband, Hasannali, at St Louis on August 13, 1977.

Before recapping the incident involving the disappearance of Hasannali, Mrs Betsy, accompanied by her husband and sister Carlette, displayed a photo of Hasannali and another photo of his family on the counter as exhibits for people to see how Hasannali and his family looked like.

To start with, Mrs Betsy said that Hasannali was not a supporter of the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) headed by Albert Rene but rather a supporter of the Democratic Party (DP) headed by James Mancham and that most of the time he would not talk good about SPUP.

She explained that early that Saturday morning of August 13, 1977, she met up with Hassanali and asked him to borrow his car as she and her friends were going out that night. She noted that Hasannali, who was living at La Louise, agreed to bring the car to her at her mother’s place at St Louis. She stated that failing to see him arrived by 6pm that evening, she called him up and he replied that he was on his way.

Mrs Betsy said that earlier that day, she saw a lady in a red car, stationed for a long time outside their residence at St Louis. She claimed that she had known that lady as a spy for the state and the fact that she was stationed outside their residence for so long seemed odd to her that day. She added that since Hasannali was yet to come, she decided to walk down to wait for him by the road side. She said that along the way she caught a lift and on arriving at the spot Hasannali disappeared, she saw his car with the driver’s door open, the radio on and a slipper on the tarmac. She said that she didn’t see any bullet or blood at the scene.

Mrs Betsy noted that only she and the driver who gave her the lift were at the scene at that time. She said she was driven back to her mother’s residence and informed her sister Carlette on what she had seen. She added that Carlette did not report the incident to the police that night but rather another sister who ran down all the way from St Louis to the Central Police Station to report the incident. She added that though Hasannali was spied on by the state, she was not aware that Hasannali’s phone was tapped which could have led the state to know that he was going to drive to St Louis that night.

Carlette on her part said that a man who was residing further down from her came to her house that night and asked her if she wanted to talk to President Rene. She stated that the man dialled the president’s number and she got to speak to him about her husband. She said the President told her that he knew nothing about what was going on.

To continue from where her sister left, Mrs Betsy said Carlette was further told by President Rene that they will look for Hasannali. She noted that from information gathered, at the time of her sister’s conversation with President Rene, Hasannali was already at the Exile Army Camp. She claimed that the lady continued spying their residence at St Louis and she ended up later in a commotion with one of her sisters in which the lady drew out a pistol she was carrying.

Mrs Betsy claimed that Mr Rene had a grudge against Hasannali because the latter did not support his party and because he (Hasannali) once took the keys of a car Mr Rene had bought from the Adam Moosa family but did not effect payment. Hasannali also intervened when Mr Rene was not paying rent on a building in Victoria he was renting from the same family.

She further claimed that Hasannali was also against the coup and that he was under the microscope of the Rene regime.

She said that Hasannali never communicated to his family what he was going through with the state.

Mrs Betsy also gave the commission the name of the driver who gave her the lift but noted that he had since passed away. She also provided the name of the lady and a few others she had met or had information on who were connected in some way or another with the disappearance of Hasannali.

She said that a man who has appeared before the commission before had told Carlette that her husband had been killed and buried at Mission Lodge.

She noted that from what the family had gathered, Hasannali was abducted at St Louis, taken to Exile Army Camp and thereafter brought to a blacksmith opposite the Mont Fleuri cemetery for the body to be cut in bits and pieces for burial at Mission Lodge. She called on those who witnessed the incident to come forward and help bring closure to this sad episode.

 

CASE 0306 – AlwynTalma

Brian Henderson was called by the commission as a witness in relation to CASE 0306 – AlwynTalma who had several issues with the Planning Authority with regard to development of his properties both on Mahé and Praslin.

Mr Henderson was mentioned by Mr Talma as the person who was sent in September 1999 to investigate the construction of a boundary wall that was built between his property and Sunset Hotel, at Glacis, Mahé, that encroached on his beacon.

Mr Talma had claimed that he was not consulted on the matter and that Mr Henderson had explained to him that there was not much that could be done to rectify the matter as the Sunset Hotel had planning permission to construct the wall. He had alleged that Mr Henderson had told him off the record that there had been some intervention from higher up with regard to the construction of the boundary wall.

In giving out his explanation, Mr Henderson, a past senior member of the Planning Authority and who joined the authority in 1975, said that as the building inspector, he notified in his report that the wall had encroached on Mr Talma’s property and that it was not done in conformity with the approved plan but nothing was done. He claimed it was the minister in charge who decided not to rectify the issue. He said that he advised Mr Talma to take the matter to court but is not sure if he ever did. He claimed that it was either Dr Maxime Ferrari or Jacques Hodoul as ministers in charge at that time who failed Mr Talma.

 

Patrick Joubert

 

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