United Seychelles party leader says his witchcraft-related arrest was politically motivated
Herminie was arrested on Friday, questioned and released. (United Seychelles)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The leader of United Seychelles, the main opposition party in the island nation, was arrested by the police on Friday, questioned and later released in connection with an ongoing witchcraft case.
Dr Patrick Herminie, who earlier this year expressed his intention to stand as a candidate for the presidential elections in 2025, was arrested at the party's headquarters at Maison du Peuple in the capital Victoria, amid allegations of witchcraft.
He said the arrest was a politically motivated attempt to destroy his image and that of his party.
"In Seychelles' history, there has never been until now, a political party leader arrested for superstition and witchcraft. This is something new and it is shameful for Seychelles. This is a political show by the President, to eliminate those who he knows will remove him from power in the 2025 elections," Herminie told reporters.
He said that "at 9 a.m. this morning, the police came with a warrant to search my offices for items related to witchcraft, which they described as bones, body parts and Christian objects."
"Obviously they did not find anything and so they took me to the CID (Criminal Investigation Department) headquarters, to take my statement, which I declined to do as I had nothing to say and I was then released," he said.
The police confirmed in a communique that on Friday morning, Herminie was arrested, questioned, and then released and that a search warrant was also effected at his office in relation to the case.
The police added that the arrest of Herminie had nothing to do with politics but only to be questioned in relation to the case.
Meanwhile, Herminie explained that when he asked about why he was being arrested for witchcraft, the police responded by telling him that his name had appeared in a Whatsapp exchange between a Seychellois and a Tanzanian man.
The Tanzanian national and the Seychellois are part of a group of six who are in police custody in an ongoing case concerning witchcraft. The Tanzanian was apprehended by the authorities at the Seychelles International Airport on Thursday, September 21, in possession of a number of items that have been linked to witchcraft.
Among the items were black wooden artifacts, stones, small bottles of brownish liquid, an assortment of powders, and a number of documents with strange language and symbols that were described as demonic and satanic.
It was through police interrogation of the Tanzanian national that the names of the five Seychellois suspects were mentioned and subsequently apprehended.
The Whatsapp exchange referenced by the police to Herminie was between the Tanzanian suspect and one of the five Seychellois.
Herminie shared that the message only contained his name and telephone number and also the name and photo of President Wavel Ramkalawan.
This led him to question why he was the only one being arrested on this basis when the President's name was also in the exchange.
Furthermore, the prosecution has said that the symbols on the documents found in the Tanzanian's possession were similar to symbols found in places that were vandalised in Seychelles among which were Catholic churches around the island.
Herminie added that this is not the first time he has been arrested. He was previously arrested some time ago, for allegedly making bombs. This was in connection to another case, where some individuals were arrested on suspicion of intent to cause an explosion of a fuel station at Grand Anse in the west of Mahe.
Herminie said the police have kept three USB drives, one external hard drive and a laptop in their possession. He refuted claims that there were also searches done at his private residence.
Despite his ordeal, Herminie commended the police for their professional conduct but warned that he will be reporting the matter firstly to the Electoral Commission of Seychelles as well as informing the international community of the "dictatorship that is being created in Seychelles."
Correction: SNA stated previously that the witchcraft case is related to the case of two dug up corpses discovered at Takamaka cemetery with items of witchcraft. Following further fact-checking, it was found that such a link has not been made. 03/10/2023 6.17pm