Drugs: 8 Iranians sentenced to 20 years in Seychelles prison returned to home country
Around 30 other foreigners serving prison sentences in Seychelles. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Eight Iranians, sentenced to 20 years in prison by the Seychelles Supreme Court for the importation and conspiracy to import illicit drugs, have been sent back to Iran.
The commissioner of the Seychelles Prison Services, Raymond St. Ange, confirmed that the Iranians have been sent home in a Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) television news on Monday.
The Iranians were arrested on October 2 last year after their vessel, under the leadership of Captain Kahn Mohammad, aged 42, was intercepted by Seychelles Coast Guard patrol ship Etoile.
The Iranian vessel was detected by a Seychelles Air Force surveillance aircraft during a routine surveillance patrol. Packets of heroin were found onboard and seized, which some of the vessel's crew tried to throw overboard.
They were given prison sentences of 20 years for conspiracy to import heroin and diamorphine, 20 years for the importation, and two terms of 15 years for conspiracy to import opium.
Asked under which conditions or agreement the prisoners were being sent home after being convicted in Seychelles, the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not provide an answer to SNA.
This is the second time that Iranian prisoners have been released and sent back home.
In a press interview with the Seychelles Nation newspaper in April about the release of a previous group of Iranians, Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan said: "We had to release them after they had pleaded guilty because we do not want to hold Iranians in our prisons. It was because of the presence of Iranians in Seychelles prisons last year which allowed them to establish a strong network, leading to our major drug issue, and with one of them heading the drug ring."
He said the Iranians were deported with the assistance of their ambassador, based in Madagascar.
St. Ange said that currently there are around 30 other foreigners serving prison sentences in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.