TRNUC hears more on land acquisition

The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission yesterday heard from two complainants and one witness in open session in relation to cases of land acquisition and exorcism.

Case 0280 – Allen Hoareau

Allen Hoareau was before the commission to complain about the compulsory acquisition of Coetivy Island in 1979 and two other plots of land at St Louis in 1980 and 1987 by the Albert Rene regime. The island that time belonged to his stepfather, Andre Delhomme, who was also the owner of Desroches Island.

He said it was his stepmother, Hilda Stevenson Delhomme, a famous doctor and politician, who received the acquisition letter signed by President Rene. He further said that the one party government agreed to pay R4 million for the island and a first installment of R2.5 million was paid upfront. He added that the rest was to be paid in portions of R300,000 in five installments, but were never paid, as a result of which, according to the agreement, the island should be returned to the family. He noted that as the case is still in court, he wondered why the government transferred the island to the Islands Development Company (IDC) for R1.

With regard to the land acquisition at St Louis, he said the government had claimed that it had paid for the two plots of land, but the claim was untrue as the two plots were only taken without compensation. He stated that his father was forced to cheaply sell off other properties he owned for fear of them being taken away by the government.

Mr Hoareau stated that as the coup of June 5, 1977 was illegal, the law regarding land acquisition, among all the other laws under the one party state, was also illegal and should be revoked. He said that his family was victimised because his stepmother, although she retired from politics in 1974, was seen as a political rival and a menace to the ruling party. Both his stepfather and stepmother passed away in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

He said that he only worked at the power station during the one party state and was later sacked. He added that, after, he was forced into exile in the United Kingdom (UK) in September 1985, without his knowledge, through threats his mother received from the regime but she didn’t tell him. He first came back from exile in 1992, before returning to stay permanently in 2014.

Mr Hoareau said that although he supported the opposition, he was not involved in any attempt to overthrow the government. He further said that government should set up a Land Abuse Commission to look into abuses in land acquisitions including those that were transferred for R1. He also presented the commission with soft copies of family documents, regarding the Coetivy and St Louis land acquisitions, for further investigation.

Case 069 – George Lefevre and Case 070 – Vicki Lanza

Lawyer Philippe Boulle was next before the commission as a witness in relation to Case 069 – George Lefevre and Case 070 – Vicki Lanza with respect to their properties that were acquired by the state at Beau Vallon in 1986.

Mr Boulle, who was the council in the case, said that he was detained by the state in June 1986 until September 15, 1986, where he was cut off from all communications from outside and therefore he was not able to physically defend his two clients against the land acquisition by the government at that time. He said the case was to be mentioned on June 10, 1986 and he was served with a detention order on June 3, 1986.

He added that he had to leave the country for South Africa for a couple of months and further into exile in the UK, two days after getting out of prison. He said though, that while in UK, he worked on all the documents for the hearing and through a colleague lawyer in Seychelles, filed some evidence in court to support the case. He presented the commission with files he worked on and noted that they will help them to understand the case in all details. He noted that he was saddened that his brief of evidence did not make it to court, due to the post failing to deliver to the local council on time, and the case against the compulsory acquisition was dismissed.

He said that the land acquisition is a government decision where a reason should be given to the owner as to what the land will be used for once acquired. He stated that land acquired should be used for the purpose acquired and not for other purposes that were not mentioned as reason for it to be acquired. He noted that land acquisition should be in the general good of the population and community.

Case 0413 – Franky Simeon

In setting out his complaint before the commission, Franky Simeon said that he was unfairly treated and harassed by the police while working as a lawyer in the country in the 1990s and was also exorcised to commit a crime without his knowledge.

He also stated that it was the chief justice and prosecutor who influenced for him to be sentenced to 20 years in prison for the involuntary double manslaughter he committed with the help of an evil spirit, a crime which the jury had acquitted him of. He noted that he managed to get the sentence reduced to 10 years following an appeal. He stated that his defence was related to non-insane automatism meaning something happening out of will.

Mr Simeon said that as a criminal lawyer, he would hang out with outcast people and he was cautioned by the chief justice, Vivekanand Alleear, several times for doing so. He stated that he joined the opposition in 1988 and he was further harassed and sometimes chased by the police for defending or hanging out with people considered as outcasts in the society. He said that although he was labelled as a ‘lawyer for bandits’, he was only providing those people with a fair trial and be proven guilty.

With regard to the involuntary manslaughter he committed in October 9, 2000, in which his wife and his mother were killed at Louise, Mahé, he stated that it was a colleague of his who hypnotised and led him into doing the crime. He further stated that he never knew the guy was a black magician and had the spiritual and hypnotism gift. He told the commission how the crime happened through the evil spell until he was picked up and hand cuffed, and then shot three times by the police. He said the person who did this to him left the country the following day for the United Kingdom and is now living in Australia.

Mr Simeon said that he has no grudge against the person and is ready to reconcile with him and to also know his motivation behind the tragedy. He noted that the person had tried to talk to him once about meeting and discussing the matter, in June 2007, when he was out of prison. He stated that the people of Seychelles do take a lesson from his case and to give him a chance to live his life in peace and to integrate into the society.

He further stated that nobody should be afraid of him as he holds no powers that people are talking about. He added that he should not be stigmatised for what had happened to him. He thanked Bishop French Chang-Him for helping him out of the evil spell.

Bishop James Wong has agreed to contact the person and to act as the reconciliation mediator between them.

Source: Seychelles Nation