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Illegal arms case: Seychelles' former President James Michel to testify via video link 

Victoria, Seychelles | March 13, 2024, Wednesday @ 10:51 in National » GENERAL | By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3331
Illegal arms case: Seychelles' former President James Michel to testify via video link 

Palais de Justice that houses the Supreme Court. (Seychelles News Agency) 

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(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles' former President James Michel will testify on Friday, March 15,  at 9.30 a.m. via video link in the illegal possession of firearms case at the Supreme Court of Seychelles involving prominent businessman Mukesh Valabjhi and his wife, lawyer Laura Valabjhi.

Michel confirmed that he received a summon via email and for medical reasons he will not be able to appear in person in court. He currently resides in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

"But I have agreed to see if it is possible for me to answer their questions by media link. The summons state to answer some questions regarding what I know in relation to the arms case currently being heard at the Supreme Court," Michel told SNA.

The request to summon the former president via video link since he was living abroad was made by the prosecution.  

The defence said that the evidence of Michel is very important to their case and they wanted to see him in person in court and asked the court to reject the video appearance.

On Tuesday, after the counsels of the defence and the prosecution presented their arguments, Chief Justice Rony Govinden, the presiding judge in the case, ruled that the testimony via video link is practical and desirable. He ordered that all arrangements be made so that Michel can give his testimony from the Seychelles Embassy in the UAE.

The case relates to the seizure of more than 100 firearms and over 35,000 rounds of ammunition from the Valabhji home at Morne Blanc on November 18, 2021.

Five persons have been charged by the Supreme Court. The accused are Mukesh Valabhji and his wife Laura, Leslie Benoiton – a senior officer in the Seychelles Defence Forces (SDF), Leopold Payet - a former chief of the Seychelles People's Defence Forces [the former name of the SDF]- and Frank Marie - retired lieutenant colonel and presidential chief security officer.

All of the accused have been released on bail except for the Valabhji couple and Benoiton.

Mukesh Valabji has also been charged in a separate $50 million money laundering case together with Sarah Zarqhani Rene, the wife of former President France Albert Rene.


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