Seychelles' court sentences man to 12 months in prison over money laundering charge
Palais de Justice which houses the Supreme Court. (Judiciary)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday sentenced a Seychellois man to 12 months in prison for the offence of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Trevor Celeste, a 29-year-old from Pointe Au Sel, was arrested with five other Seychellois on July 9. He had been charged on two other counts: conspiracy to commit aggravating trafficking of a person and conspiracy to commit trafficking of a person.
In view of the fact that he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and accepted a conditional offer to be a witness for the prosecution from the Attorney General, the other two counts were withdrawn.
The lawyer for Celeste, Alexia Amesbury, had also called for a probation report which showed the mitigating circumstances, and she had moved for leniency based on several factors contained in the report.
In his ruling, Justice Mohan Burhan, the presiding judge in the case, said, "He had pleaded guilty to a charge thereby expressing remorse and regret at what he has done...He has strong mitigating circumstances when one considers the medical condition of his mother."
Burhan said that due to these strong factors in mitigation, he sentenced Celeste to 12 months in prison; he received six months of credit for time already served while in remand.
Meanwhile, the other men implicated in the case have been denied bail, despite their lawyer, Basil Hoareau, arguing that the dates set for trial were too far out "and that the accused would have been in custody for a year by then."
They are due to appear in court on December 28 while the trial will begin on March 1 next year.
The Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, has a zero-tolerance drug policy and the trafficking and importation of illegal drugs carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
From the beginning of the year to the month of September, the Anti-Narcotics Bureau recorded 91 arrests on all three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue.
These included 69 searches in vehicles and seven boats – making the total number of people they have stopped to search 1,557.