Anti-Corruption case and Firearms & Prevention of Terrorism case Laura Valabhji’s bail application to be heard again on March 23 |09 March 2022
Laura Valabhji’s bail application in both the missing US $50 million case brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles and the firearms and prevention of terrorism case will be decided upon on March 23, 2022.
The Supreme Court adjourned the decision in both cases yesterday after a four-hour session, from 9.30am to 1.30pm.
The main focus of yesterday’s court session was Mrs Valabhji’s bail application first in the missing US $50 million case brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) and the firearms & prevention of terrorism case. Ms Valabhji was represented by foreign lawyers James Lewis and Miranda Ching who were sworn in to represent her.
In the missing US $50 million case brought by the ACCS, Mr Lewis gave extensive submissions in support of the application, mainly addressing the issue of bail and briefly addressing certain evidence presented so far by the ACCS alleging that the evidence against Mrs Valabhji is weak and are assertions by the anti-corruption officer rather than actual supported evidence.
He stated that Mrs Valabhji has a strong case and therefore does not have motivation to flee and she would like to clear her name and is confident she can do so.
Mr Lewis further emphasised the right to liberty and the need to balance presumption of innocence and the need to protect the public in deciding whether to grant or deny bail.
Mr Lewis pointed out that Mrs Valabhji has already been in remand for four months and that the ACCS indicated that they will not be ready for trial for another year.
Mr Lewis argued that further remand therefore will greatly interfere with Mrs Valabhji’s right to liberty.
He asked for bail with conditions including, if the court so decides, surrender of passport, curfew, payment of bond security and surety, which is a person that guarantees that the accused will attend court hearing.
ACCS lawyer Anthony Juliette also gave his submissions in opposition of the bail application stating that evidence is strong and that Seychelles courts have previously justified delays in trial of complex cases.
Both counsels also addressed the court on the issue of standard of burden of proof in criminal cases at the stage of bail hearing and at the later stage of trial.
With regard to the firearms and prevention of terrorism case, Mr Lewis made similar arguments in support of granting bail, also stating that the evidence presented in the case against Mrs Valabhji is weak.
He discussed some of the evidence to point out weaknesses as alleged, which will be examined in detail later at trial.
Representing the republic, Steve Powles opposed the bail, reiterating risks that were previously discussed in court if the bail was to be granted.
He addressed the evidence brought up by Mr Lewis and questioned allegations that evidence is weak.
He emphasised the large number of firearms found, the concealment thereof and previously mentioned national security risk.
The court adjourned the decision in both cases for March 23, 2022.
The status of the remaining accused persons in both cases remains the same.
The accused persons in both cases will reappear before the Supreme Court on Friday March 11, 2022.