Illegal arms case: Valabhji couple's Seychelles home under police detention for 60 days
Laura and her husband Mukesh Valabhji (2nd/3rd from left) were arrested in November 2021. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The residence of the Valabhji couple, Mukesh and Laura, accused in an ongoing illegal arms and ammunition case shall remain under the detention of the police for 60 days after Seychelles' Supreme Court granted the Commissioner of Police's application for a detention order.
According to the Prevention of Terrorism Act, "where the Commissioner of Police has reasonable grounds for suspecting that any property has been, or is being, used to commit an offense under this Act, the Commissioner may seize the property."
Amongst reasons set out by the presiding judge, Mohan Burhan, for granting the order, is that during a search carried out on the husband and wife's property located at Morne Blanc on the main island of Mahe, a large number of weapons and ammunition were found.
In the affidavit of the Commissioner of Police, it was outlined that during the search done on November 18, 2021, "over 50 firearms and over 35,000 rounds of ammunition have been found to date at Morne Blanc."
The Commissioner of Police has had custody of the property since then, on the basis that it is a crime scene and the search of the property is ongoing.
The affidavit stated that it is suspected that further weapons may still be recovered from the property. It also said that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Valabhji's property was being used to commit offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, namely as a storage place for weapons and ammunition likely to be used to commit a terrorist act.
The Valabhji couple stated in their objection to the order that "between the period November 18, 2021, and February 11, 2022, there has been no application for seizure of the weapons and ammunition nor for the seizure of the premises."
The couple contended that there is now no longer a reasonable suspicion.
In addressing the objections, Burhan said that section 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code grants power for a court to order the detention of the said seized property once it is brought before the court until the conclusion of the case or until the investigation is complete.
A decision on whether or not the property shall remain under the detention of the police after the 60 days shall be provided on November 9.
Mukesh Valabji has also been charged in the $50 million money laundering case. It was after he and his wife Laura were arrested in November 2021, that the cache of arms was discovered during the search of their property.