Seychelles' Court of Appeal acquits couple sentenced on heroin charges
Seychelles' courts' building 'Palais de Justice' at Ile du Port, which houses the top courts. (Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' Court of Appeal on Thursday acquitted a couple who had been sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for importing and conspiracy to import heroin into the island nation.
Basil Hoareau, the lawyer for Colin and Gina Forte, a Seychellois couple, told the press that there was a break in the chain of evidence presented before the court which led to his clients winning their appeals.
"There are two main grounds upon which the Court of Appeal has quashed the decision; the first one is on the basis that there was a break in the chain of evidence and the second ground on the basis of refreshing of memory," said Hoareau.
While presenting the judgment, the President of the Court of Appeal, Anthony Fernando, said that although he is concerned with the increasing drug menace in this country, he was "unable and unwilling to sacrifice the sacrosanct principles of this court, when the investigation has failed miserably in its duty, the prosecutor has been unfair in conducting the prosecution and the learned trial Judge had erred in his judgment."
The case dates back to October 2014 when a consignment of 1.5 kg of heroin imported into the island nation in the western Indian Ocean was seized by the National Drug Enforcement Agency. Gina and Colin Forte managed to flee the country before being officially charged.
The couple was arrested by the Kenyan authorities on the border between Kenya and Tanzania with fake travel documents in September 2017 and was brought to Seychelles where they have been in custody ever since.
The Court of Appeal passed judgement on 24 out of 25 cases.
Another judgement relates to that of a former complaints and communications manager of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Abison De Giorgio, who was sentenced by the Seychelles Supreme Court to eight years imprisonment and a fine of $5,000.
De Giorgio was found guilty on three different counts of corruption: extortion, disclosing sensitive information and corruptly soliciting gratification in exchange for delaying an ongoing investigation on former minister Dolor Ernesta. The court maintained his judgment as is.
Judgment in the case of Vijay Construction company versus the owner of Savoy Resort and Spa has been postponed to Sept. 4.