- The Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) submitted another affidavit minutes before the court hearing, in which it confirms that there is no evidence of Laura Valabhji’s involvement in an alleged theft of $50 million two decades ago and subsequent transfers
- QC defending Ms Valabhji asserts that she is a woman of good character who does not deserve to remain in custody
Today, Laura Valabhji finally attended her bail application hearing in the Supreme Court, Seychelles, after several delays by the court and almost 4 months since her arrest.
James Lewis QC, an eminent UK barrister, appeared for Laura Valabhji, and presented the Court with detailed arguments why Laura should be granted bail. During the four-hour-long hearing, the Judge listened intently as James Lewis QC submitted that the prosecution has taken a prejudicial approach to date, with the core of their case being that Laura ‘must have known’ of the alleged crimes and is therefore guilty. The barrister drew the Court’s attention to the fact that, despite the prosecution calling his client ‘a liar’, “there is simply not one jot, one iota, or one piece of evidence that directly implicates Laura Valabhji in this alleged offence.”
As it has done previously, the ACCS, which is acting in a prosecutorial capacity in the case, presented an affidavit to the court just minutes before the hearing, preventing Laura’s defense counsel from having sufficient time to review. The affidavit however, appeared to exonerate Ms Valabhji. Notably, in the ACCS’s submission, Patrick Humphrey, officer and investigator at the Commission, conceded that “there is no evidence” of Ms Valabhji’s “involvement in the theft of the original $50 million… [n]or is there… evidence of her involvement” in the subsequent transactions. These facts have been repeatedly argued by Laura and her defense over the last 15 weeks.
James Lewis QC also reminded the Court that the judge is not being asked to make any decisions or findings on the case against his clients during his ruling, but that the strength and weaknesses of the prosecution case are critical at this stage of the court’s deliberations. “This is an unjustified and capricious political prosecution,” he said, “It is simply monstrous to hold a woman of good character in prison because the prosecution says there is a case against her husband.”
Jonathan Huth of Kobre & Kim said, “The Judge listened carefully to the legal arguments presented by our counsel, and we hope the bail application will be determined on its merits and in light of the new evidence provided to the court as a result of Mr. Humphrey’s affidavit.”
“While we await the court’s decision on 25 March 2022, our legal teams will continue to prepare Laura’s vigorous defence to these charges in anticipation of a full and proper hearing taking place soon.”