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Police Commissioner asks court for detention of Valabhji couple’s residence |26 July 2022

It will be on August 1, 2022, after listening to written submissions from the prosecution and the defence, that the court will set a date to rule on whether to allow Police Commissioner Ted Barbe, on behalf of the police, to detain parcel B39, the residence property of Mukesh and Laura Valabhji at Morne Blanc.

The Commissioner of Police has filed a petition before the court for the detention of the property under section 26 of the Prevention Terrorism Act 2004, which stipulates the seizure of weapons to be used for terrorism acts, including properties used for storing those weapons, taking into account that the Valabhji couple’s residence was used to store weapons for terrorism act. The detention proxy under the law is for 60 days, further to extensions by the court during the duration of the trial. Depending on the outcome of the criminal trial, the property can be either returned to its owners or in the case of a conviction, it will be forfeited to the state.   

In court yesterday afternoon, presided by judge Mohan Burhan, the Commissioner of Police was represented by Police Detective Sergeant Davis Simeon assisted by state counsel Steven Powles while Mr Valabhji was being represented by lawyer France Bonte and his wife Laura by lawyer Samantha Aglae.     

During the session, Sergeant Simeon was crossed examined by the defence lawyers on his affidavit with regard to the property and on the reasons why they think the commissioner wanted to detain the property.

Questioned by lawyer Bonte with regard to damage caused during the search and bad maintenance of the property, among others, Sergeant Simeon said there was no major damage to the house except to areas where the search for weapons took place.

He added that on the whole, the house is being well maintained, including the dogs which are being well looked after and that nothing has been stolen.

He stated that if the detention order is granted, he will be the person to be appointed to manage the property and he will see to it that the property is well maintained.

He also invited the defence team to visit the house to form their own opinion, an invitation which was accepted.  

With regard to the question from lawyer Aglae that the police only wanted to have control over the property so that after the trial it can be forfeited to the state, taking into account that the search for weapons has been completed and that the property should be returned to its rightful owners, Mr Simeon reiterated that given the property was used to store weapons for terrorism acts was the only reason for asking for the detention order.

It is to be noted that the police raided the residence of Mukesh and Laura Valabhji on November 18, 2021 where a large cache of fire arms, ammunitions and explosives were discovered. They have both been charged with the incident and they are still in custody.

Other persons also charged in the case are former high ranking army officer Leslie Benoiton, retired Brigadier and former Chief of the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) Leopold Payet and retired lieutenant colonel and presidential chief security officer Frank Marie, who are both out on bail.


Patrick Joubert


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