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Seychelles government must pay to repatriate body of sailor to Iran, court rules

Victoria, Seychelles | June 8, 2019, Saturday @ 16:48 in National » GENERAL | By: Patsy Athanase Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 4455
Seychelles government must pay to repatriate body of sailor to Iran, court rules

(File photo) An Iranian dhow intercepted in December 2014 after being suspected of fishing illegally in the Seychelles waters. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The government of Seychelles will bear the cost to repatriate the body of an Iranian sailor after post-mortem and embalming, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this week.  

The case relates to Abed Raz, an Iranian national who died at the Seychelles Hospital on March 5h from injuries sustained when the vessel he was on, MUBARAK, caught fire and sunk in the Seychelles’ waters.

The incident happened when the boat was being escorted to Port Victoria on February 17, after it had been arrested in an operation by the local police, coast guard and the Anti-Narcotics Bureau.

Twelve other crew members who were not injured in the incident were deported to Iran without any charges filed against them.

The case against the government was brought by Malekmohammad Balouchzheni, a businessman who is the owner of the vessel that sunk. The hearing started on May 22.

The plaintiff’s counsel, Clifford Andre, told SNA they had requested that the body be repatriated to Iran for burial and that the government bear all the costs of the repatriation. This is because it was the local authorities who intercepted the vessel in international waters and escorted them to Seychelles.  

Andre argued that the boat caught fire and sunk while in the custody of the defendants.

In his ruling on Monday, Supreme Court Judge Gustave Dodin supported Andre’s argument and found the defendants responsible for the repatriation of Abed Raz’ body.

“I, therefore, find the defendants jointly responsible for the repatriation of the body of the deceased Abed Raz to Iran and meet all the costs and logistical arrangements necessary for the repatriation,” said Justice Dodin.

His ruling was welcomed by Andre who confirmed on Friday that the Seychelles Police were in the process of carrying out the court’s order.

Apart from the repatriation claim, which Andre said was more pressing as the family wanted to bury their dead, he has also filed three other cases against the local authorities on behalf of his client Malekmohammad Balouchzheni.

In two of the cases before the Supreme Court, he is seeking damages worth 2.3 million Seychelles rupees for the loss of life of the Iranian sailor and 1.5 million US dollars for the vessel that sunk, which he said has led to a loss of revenue for his client.

The hearing started on Friday and the main witness is the Captain of the vessel, MUBARAK, Ismael Balou, who gave evidence in the matter before Judge Dodin.

Andre has also filed a case before the Constitutional Court against the government for its failure to respect the men’s rights guaranteed under the law, upon their arrest.

“First of all they were not taken to court and released with no charges, which is a breach of their rights to liberty. They were not informed on why they were arrested in a language they could understand which is another violation of their right”, added Andre.

He added that Seychelles’ authorities did not only breach Seychellois law but that of UNCLOS (United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea) to which Seychelles is a party.

The Constitutional case will start on Tuesday, June 11.

The Iranian dhow was intercepted on suspicion of being involved in illegal activities.  

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Tags: Constitutional Court, UNCLOS

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