Seychelles Supreme Court imposes life sentence for the first time in drug trafficking case on two men convicted of trafficking 47 kg of cannabis
A view of the seized barrels and bags concealing the 47 kilograms of cannabis which the NDEA believes originated from the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Madagascar. (NDEA)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles Supreme Court has sentenced two Seychellois men to life imprisonment for drug trafficking in a case relating to the seizure on April 9, 2014, of what has been identified to be 47 kilograms of cannabis. The sentence was imposed on Monday after the trial, which started in June last year, came to an end last Friday.
In a press statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Seychelles National Drugs Enforcement Agency, NDEA, identified the two men as a 34 year old farmer and carpenter, Jean Francois Adrienne, and a 42 year old driver, Terrence Servina, both hailing from Mont Plaisir in the southern district of Anse Royale, on the main Seychelles island of Mahé.
"Both men have been the subject of NDEA attention for a considerable time," reads the NDEA statement.
According to the anti-narcotics agency, the 47 kilograms of cannabis were seized on land owned by one of the accused during an intelligence-led operation “at an isolated farm” in the western district of Anse Boileau.
“The drugs that were recovered were contained in a collection of barrels and bags that had been concealed underground to avoid detection,” reads the NDEA statement.
NDEA reported at the time of the seizure last year that the estimated the street value of drugs seized was more than $1.6 million.
|Photos showing a collection of barrels and bags in which the 47 kilograms of cannabis were concealed. (NDEA) Photo License: CC-BY|
Monday’s ruling in the case is the first time drug traffickers have been sentenced to life in prison in the Indian Ocean island nation since the 2012 amendment of the island nation’s Misuse of Drugs Act.
The amendment which was aimed at deterring drug traffickers from engaging in the practice sought to repeal the ‘Second Schedule’ which provides for penalties for offences under the Act and subsequently include “enhanced minimum mandatory sentences of life imprisonment for offences of unauthorized importation or exportation of a controlled drug, unauthorized manufacture of a controlled and unauthorized traffic in a controlled drug where the quantity is more than 250 grammes.”
Before the amendment, the minimum sentence for trafficking of controlled drugs of more than 250 grams was 8 years and the maximum sentence was 30 years imprisonment.
The amended act came into effect as it was published in the Official Gazette on August 6, 2012, after it was assented by the President.
Servina and Adrienne had been charged on three counts; trafficking in a controlled drug, aiding and abetting another person to commit the offence of trafficking in a controlled drug and conspiracy to commit the offence of trafficking in a controlled drug.
The Principal State Counsel David Esparon was the prosecutor in this case while Lawyer Basil Hoareau was defending the two accused.
The two men sentenced to life imprisonment for drug trafficking, Jean Francois Adrienne (left) and Terrence Servina. (NDEA) Photo License: CC-BY
Supreme Court Judge Mohan Niranjit Burhan who found the two accused guilty gave several reasons when passing sentence as to why he had not considered the defence counsel's request for less severe sentences for the accused.
He noted that the 47,435.1 grams of drugs is well over the prescribed amount of 250 grammes set out in the Second Schedule.
"...Considering the quantity of controlled drug trafficked, this is a fit and proper case to impose a term of life imprisonment on each of the accused which would be a just and appropriate punishment even having considered the plea in mitigation of learned counsel for the accused," said Burhan.
“It is clear to this court that the quantity of controlled drug taken into custody, clearly indicates that both accused were involved on a very large scale in the trafficking of the controlled drug and therefore suitable deterrent punishment should be given considering the adverse and dangerous effects this drug has on society, especially the younger generation in a country with a small population like the Seychelles. The accused have not expressed any form of remorse or regret.”
The NDEA believes that the drugs originated from the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Madagascar and was conveyed to Seychelles by boat a short time prior to their discovery and seizure.