A report by the Seychelles Human Rights Commission detailed the terrible conditions of detention at the Central Police Station, where Laura Valabhji was held for 9 weeks: This report can be read here.
Harassment of legal counsel and denial of representation.
There has been a catalogue of deeply concerning actions by the police investigators, the ACCS, the Supreme Court and government departments that have collaborated to deprive Laura and Mukesh Valabhji of their chosen defence counsel, as they mount their campaign to annul all charges against them.
Mr Frank Elizabeth, counsel to the Valabhjis and Ms Fahreen Rajan, who served them with dignity despite enormous political pressure not to do so, was threatened with prosecution for witnessing powers of attorney for Ms Rajan, and was forced to withdraw from the case.
The harassment and intimidation of lawyers working on the case, both in the Seychelles and from the UK, have undermined the innocent defendants’ ability to receive at times, any legal representation.
Changing the law in order to prosecute the accused.
The Seychelles 9 were charged with offences that were inapplicable to the crimes they were alleged to have committed. Faced with a weak case that could not be legally prosecuted, the President and the ACCS changed the law to allow the prosecution to charge the defendants. Such blatant amendment of the law to charge specific persons for specific crimes is unprecedented, even in the Seychelles courts, and a violation of fundamental principles of justice. It is also against the law and basic jurisprudence in most countries and under human rights conventions.
Withholding evidence and denial of bail.
From the outset of the case against the President’s family and associates, the Prosecution and the ACCS have refused to share evidence that would either implicate or exonerate the defendants, making their case impossible to properly defend. Moreover, the continued incarceration of defendants, combined with the inaccessibility of the trumped-up ‘evidence’, has impeded their ability to assemble exculpatory evidence and information that would assist their release in a law-abiding country.