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Diplomatic talks continue concerning the fate of 3 Seychellois nationals on death row in Egypt

Victoria, Seychelles | October 21, 2014, Tuesday @ 17:28 in National » DIPLOMACY | By: John Lablache and Sharon Uranie | Views: 3975
Diplomatic talks continue concerning the fate of 3 Seychellois nationals on death row in Egypt

The newly accredited Egyptian Ambassador to Seychelles Mahmoud Ali Talaat at State House this morning. (Mervyn Marie,Seychelles News Agency) 

Photo license  

(Seychelles News Agency) - All diplomatic avenues are being engaged in an attempt to save the lives of three Seychellois nationals whose time is running out after having been sentenced to death in Egypt for drug trafficking, says the Seychelles government.

The Seychelles President James Michel this morning conveyed a letter addressed to his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi pleading for clemency for the three men.

The letter was handed to the new Egyptian Ambassador to Seychelles Mahmoud Ali Talaat after he presented his credentials to the Seychellois Head of State this morning.

The matter relating to the death penalty imposed on the three Seychellois men was the main topic of discussion.

Talaat told journalists in an interview at State House that the Seychelles President had expressed the grief that the people of Seychelles and the families of the three men are currently going through.

"The President (James Michel) expressed how important it is to the Seychellois people and for the families of the three who are sentenced to death,” he said adding that he will convey the message to Cairo as soon as he arrives in Nairobi where he is based.

“I will convey his message to his excellency the President of Egypt and to the government. I’m not a law expert so I do not know what could be done about it but I will convey the message……Let’s hope for the best. As I said I have to convey the message to my president and we will see from there, but normally the Egyptian government never gets involved in the judiciary.”

The Seychelles Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Barry Faure is currently in Cairo where he yesterday discussed the matter with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Mahmoud Ali Talaat presented his credentials to President James Michel at State House this morning. (Mervyn Marie,Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

It was on Wednesday last week that it was confirmed that the Egyptian Court of Cessation had upheld the death penalty imposed on Ronny Norman Jean, Yvon John Vinda and Dean Dominic Loze, rejecting their appeal.

The three men were sentenced to death by execution on April 7, 2013 and the sentence was confirmed on June 3, 2013.

They men were arrested on April 22, 2011 by the Egyptian police onboard a boat near the Red Sea coastal town of Marsa Alam. They were together with a British national identified as Charles Raymond Ferndale, who is said to be the owner of the vessel and another Pakistani national.

They were accused and charged for attempting to smuggle three tonnes of cannabis packed in 118 bags into Egypt.

The three Seychellois men imprisoned in Egypt: Ronny Norman Jean, Yvon John Vinda and Dean Dominic Loze (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY-NC 

The Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Paul Adam who was also present at the State House meeting, said Seychelles has made several diplomatic representations since the three men were sentenced to death on April 7, 2013.

He said the first was to the former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi after they were sentenced. Morsi was ousted by the military in July 2013.

Adam noted that another appeal was also made after the death sentences were upheld by the Egyptian Court of Appeal.

Now that the Court of Cassation, which is the last legal recourse has pronounced itself and upheld the death penalty the Egyptian president has one month during which he may intervene on the matter.

Nevertheless Adam said it is a very difficult situation as questions may be asked to the Egyptian authorities as to “why this case and not others” while adding that “if the appeals are unsuccessful, we must prepare ourselves for what can happen.”

“….Egypt has shown that it is very open to listen to Seychelles and I think this is the mark of the strength between the two countries. But we are also conscious that like in Seychelles the executive cannot interfere in the judiciary,” said Adam.

“Because Seychelles is not a country that applies the death penalty we are appealing for clemency in that their sentence could be reduced to life imprisonment…….but it will be a question for the Egyptian legal authorities to look at. We hope for a positive answer but we have to be respectful of the Egyptian justice system.”

Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister Jean Paul Adam (Right) and the new Egyptian Ambassador to Seychelles Mahmoud Ali Talaat speaking to journalists at State House this morning. (Mervyn Marie,Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

The Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister said his ministry is in contact with the families of the condemned men adding that “the three are in a very difficult and emotional situation.”

Adam also told journalists that a possible execution date has not yet been confirmed and that they await to hear from the lawyers on the matter.

He also said that negotiations for clemency are being coordinated with the UK Government since a Briton was also arrested together with the three Seychellois and subsequently sentenced to death for drug trafficking. 

The Seychellois public have also expressed concern about the fate of the three Seychellois nationals in Egypt while several efforts are ongoing to plead for mercy on social media sites and newspapers.

The former Seychelles President James Mancham has also added his voice to the plea for clemency for the three Seychellois men. Mancham has also sent a letter to the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi calling on him to show mercy on them. 

Seychelles and Egypt established diplomatic ties in 1976.

While the situation of the three men on death row dominated discussions during talks between the newly accredited ambassador and Michel the possibility to enhance cooperation between the two countries were also highlighted.

“We discussed different matters in the trade field, how trade could be doubled or even tripled or quadrupled, we should make more efforts in that respect using what we have now which is the COMESA. There are lots of agreements that could be signed between both countries. Egypt can supply various experts in different fields especially in the health field,” said Talaat.

Apart from increasing trade and cooperation in the health sector, tourism is another area which the two sides feel can be explored further.

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Tags: death penalty, drug trafficking, James Mancham, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Mahmoud Ali Talaat, Jean Paul Adam, President James Michel, Egypt

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