Firearms and prevention of terrorism case |09 April 2022
All accused persons plead not guilty
All accused persons in the firearms and prevention of terrorism case brought by the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles have pleaded not guilty to each of their respective charges. There were 29 counts against them (the 29 counts are similar but each one is counted for each accused person so in total it makes 29). These are the counts / charges summed up to:
- Conspiracy to possess terrorist property (Mukesh Valabhji, his wife Laura Valabhji, Leslie Benoiton)
- Conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition (Mukesh Valabhji, his wife Laura Valabhji, Leslie Benoiton)
- Possession of terrorist property (Mukesh Valabhji, his wife Laura Valabhji, Leslie Benoiton)
- Possession of firearms and ammunition (Mukesh Valabhji, his wife Laura Valabhji, Leslie Benoiton)
- Abuse of office (Leslie Benoiton, Leopold Payet and Frank Marie).
Steve Powles, counsel for the prosecution, asked for further remand of 14 days for the defendants ‒ Mukesh Valabhji, his wife Laura Valabhji, Leslie Benoiton and Leopold Payet ‒ already in custody and stated that the prosecution complied with the disclosure requirement.
During yesterday’s session, Mrs Valabhji reiterated issues in relation to access to a laptop to review electronic documents, access to a phone in order to communicate with her lawyers.
Mr France Bonte, counsel for Mr Valabhji also stated that there had been difficulties in relation to meetings between Mr and Mrs Valabhji for the purpose of preparing their defence contrary to the earlier court order.
Mr Powles, representing the Republic, stated that he was not aware of the phone call issue; adding that there should not be any difficulties with meetings between Mr and Mrs Valabhji as was ordered by the court; and that with regard to access to laptop.
The AG’s office is trying to see what is available at the detention centre that the defendant’s lawyer may take their laptop to show the materials, that laptop needs to be approved and also that the AG’s office may assist with provision of laptop, however, does not want to set precedence that in every other matter in the future the prosecution will be obliged to provide the laptop to defendants.
The court stated that the court orders must be followed and asked to ensure that Mrs Valabhji be given reasonable access to communicate with her lawyers; to have meetings with Mr Valabhji to discuss their defence and to have reasonable access to facilities to review electronic materials. The case will be back in court on April 22, 2022 to fix the trial dates.