Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission – Hearing number 87

The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission yesterday listened to evidence from four more witnesses in four different cases, while two speakers were also present to bring forward information they think might be relevant to the commission.
In the first hearing, ex-assistant commissioner of police Godfra Hermitte was giving evidence in case 090 brought forward by Livette Hermitte regarding the murder of her son Ricky Hermitte on October 19, 2006 at Kan Tobruk, Sans Soucis.
Ex-militia Serge Marguerite was the second witness yesterday, precisely in case 232 filed by René Quilindo regarding the shooting of Joyce Quilindo.
The third witness yesterday was Captain David Savy who was giving evidence in case 0301 of Patrick Lablache in relation to the famous incident known as ‘Repiblik Praslin’.
The Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) also listened to two speakers yesterday, precisely ex-minister Dolor Ernesta regarding his land ownership, and proportional member of the National Assembly for United Seychelles Simon Gill who talked about general political education.

Case 090: Livette Hermitte
In its first session yesterday, the commission heard from ex-assistant commissioner of police Godfra Hermitte who gave evidence in case 090 (Livette Hermitte) in the murder of Ricky Hermitte on October 19, 2006 at Kan Tobruk, Sans Soucis.
Mr Hermitte, who is also Ricky’s uncle, said on June 16, 2006 the victim’s sister came to his office to inform him about a shooting attempt on her brother who was at that time in hiding.
On the same night, Mr Hermitte received a phone call from Ricky himself who told him that someone (codenamed C) attempted to shoot him using a silenced-pistol and that he managed to escape and was still in hiding.
Not being on the best of term with his nephew at that time based on his involvement resulting in his name coming up on several occasions in the police domain, Mr Hermitte said he did not engage into a detailed conversation.
For the sake of his personal security, Mr Hermitte advised his nephew to report to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) office at the Central Police Station and he went there the next day and gave his statement.
After giving his statement, Ricky requested to see Mr Hermitte who was then the assistant commissioner of police and gave a complete account of what happened on the previous night at Vista Do Mar, Glacis.
He told his uncle that two of his friends drove him there to sell a scooter and upon reaching the place, someone (codenamed C) aimed a silenced pistol at him and that he managed to get out of harm’s way despite the effort by someone else to try and catch him.
Ricky managed to escape and went into hiding until night time when he managed to get out.
After hearing Ricky’s story, Mr Hermitte, out of curiosity, asked whether the scene of the crime had been visited and it was then that he noticed some hesitation.
To avoid a conflict of interest, Mr Hermitte said he kept away from the investigation, and according to him, up till now, he has never asked any more questions regarding that matter.
Three weeks before the death of Ricky, Mr Hermitte said he received a confidential phone call from a friend in the authority who advised to warn his nephew to stop his ‘taxi pirat’ job as the state security was plotting to kill him.
Again, not being on good terms with his nephew, Mr Hermitte passed on the message to Ricky’s sister who warned her brother about the attempt on his life.
Three weeks later, precisely on October 19, 2006, at around 7.30pm to 8pm Mr Hermitte received a phone call from a CID officer who informed him that Ricky had been killed following an incident at Kan Tobrouk, Sans Soucis.
Mr Hermitte added that on the following day, he visited the crime scene, not as part of the official investigation team, but to get a personal view of the scene and also to gather his own information for a personal conclusion on the incident.
During Ricky’s funeral which took place on Tuesday October 24, 2006, Mr Hermitte said the family noticed the mysterious presence of a young man who was filming what was going on and since they did not hire anyone to do such a job, a family member discreetly took his photograph.
They later learned that the person filming was sent by the state security in an attempt to listen to and gather any relevant information that he might get from family members and also from the video during later viewing.
Another striking event which happened following Ricky’s death was the death of someone codenamed W which according to rumour was the one who took Ricky to Kan Tobrouk on the night of his death.
Strangely enough, the body of W was discovered floating in the river behind the post office in Victoria.
To conclude his open session presentation, Mr Hermitte said Ricky’s sentence was already written and that state security was later involved in its execution.
He added that the Hermitte family acknowledges that Ricky’s action and behaviour were unacceptable, but he should have been jailed instead of being executed for his wrongdoings.
“All those who conspired actively and passively to kill Ricky should know that their crimes are as bad as his,” concluded Mr Hermitte who then went into closed session where he gave some more detailed and sensitive evidence.

Case 0232: René Quilindo
Serge Marguerite was the second witness to face the commission yesterday and he was giving evidence in case 232 filed by René Quilindo as being someone involved in the shooting of Joyce Quilindo.
Mr Marguerite, along with René Dubel was a member of the People’s Militia and according to the initial complaint, they, along with their leader Dobin Samson, were directly involved in the shooting.
In his evidence, Mr Marguerite clearly remembered that the day in question was a Friday, but could not figure out the date, month or year.
After collecting his gun from a certain Mr Adeline of the army, Mr Marguerite went for a patrol at the social centre, or ‘park bef’ as it was more commonly known where bingo was being played.
After being there for about half an hour, he heard two single shots being fired. He explained that following the two shots, those playing bingo, including Mr Samson came out of the social centre to see what was happening.
It was at that time that a third shot was fired according to Mr Marguerite who also fired two shots in the air.
After a short while, one of his militia colleagues, namely Joachim Louis-Marie arrived but could not give a proper account of what really happened, even if he was trying to speak.
The pair then proceeded up the Mont Plaisir road for a regular patrol and it was at that time that Mr Marguerite asked his colleague about what has happened earlier.
Mr Louis-Marie told him that ‘Ti Pen’ (Joyce Quilindo) was being chased by the police for breaking his curfew.
Upon reaching a place called Grand Rivière, Mr Marguerite said they heard noises coming from the bushes, precisely people walking.
They then saw Joyce Quilindo who told them not to kill him.
Mr Marguerite then asked his colleague to seek help while he stayed with Mr Quilindo.
Once back at the Anse Royale police station, Mr Marguerite said they declared their ammunition before being taken to Pointe Larue.
On the next day they were brought before the commissioner of police (James Pillay) before starting trial. They were then released on R5,000 bail before being freed from all charges.

Dolor Ernesta: Right of reply
Former minister Dolor Ernesta was the third person before the commission yesterday during hearing number 87.
Following the presentation by member of the National Assembly Florry Larue before the commission, Mr Ernesta did contact the commission requesting a right to respond to the allegations Ms Larue made in her presentation regarding his land ownership.
In his introduction, Mr Ernesta pointed out that the cardinal rule of an expert is that one cannot have a vested interest in something.
They should rather know how to gather evidence, analyse the facts and make impartial conclusions, without being biased.
He said Hon. Larue tried to use the commission as a political platform to earn political mileage.
Case 0301: Patrick Lablache
Captain David was also a witness during yesterday’s hearing of the commission, precisely in case 0301 filed by Patrick Lablache regarding punishments received for his alleged involvement in the famous incident known as ‘Repiblik Praslin’.
In his complaint, Mr Lablache claimed that he was held in detention for 48 days and upon his release, his taxi licence was revoked and captain Savy spoke to ex-President France Albert Rene on his behalf to explain his case and as a result, Mr Rene allowed him to have his licence back.
Captain Savy said he honestly cannot remember speaking to Mr Lablache regarding the topic back then.
He, however, admitted to remembering him during his days as the chief executive of Air Seychelles, since the airline hired Mr Lablache on a long-term basis to drop staff to and from the airport.

Case 0149: Rolderick Larue and Marise Eulentin
Roland Gertrude appeared as a witness in case 0149 filed by Rodrick Larue and Maryse Eulentin regarding the murder of their son, Dharmendra Eulentin whose body was found in the sea off Providence on March 8, 2007.
Mr Gertrude was called by the commission after his name was mentioned by the complainants as one of the persons who might have relevant information about what happened to their son Dharmendra who was killed on either March 4 or March 5, 2007.
It was also alleged that one of Mr Gertrude’s relatives was involved and that is one of the reasons to believe that he might have knowledge of the incident.
Throughout his statement, Mr Gertrude stated that he did not know anything about the incident and that he heard the gossips like anyone else.
Simon Gill – General political education
While the TRNUC is mandated to investigate complaints of alleged human rights violations committed in relation to the 1977 coup d’Etat with the purpose of establishing the truth about alleged violations, proportional member of the National Assembly for United Seychelles Simon Gill was in front of the commission to praise the coup.
Hon. Gill’s presentation was initiated after the issue of political education and indoctrination of soldiers in the Seychelles People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) during the one party era and the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces (SPDF) even after the re-introduction of the multi-party system was raised.
The earlier period was a time of political transition during which the Seychelles People’s United Party (SPUP) transformed its ideology from a focus on revolution to a self-proclaimed unrivalled single-party regime.
Whilst the ultimate aim of the TRNUC is to bring closure to victims and perpetrators and to unite the people of the Seychelles around a common agenda going forward, Hon. Gill’s presentation surely raised a few eyebrows, especially in line with the reconciliation of people through acknowledging and accepting responsibility for the past.
Mr Gill described his presentation and interaction with the commissioners as a great pleasure and he has been rescheduled to re-appear before the commission to continue his presentation.

Source: Seychelles Nation