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Lalit militants Devianand Narrain and Roland Fozoo take the Police to Intermediary Court this Wednesday


Lalit militants Devianand Narrain and Roland Fozoo will be in the Intermediary Court in Port Louis this coming Wednesday when their case against Mr. Louis Paul Raphael Macque, Inspector Ghoorah (the same one that has just been sacked by ICAC), and the Commissioner of Police begins. Lalit militants are taking police to Court for damages, as the only legal recourse they have to ensure that police stop beating up people and stop concocting charges against people who protest against police brutality and torture.

This saga began when in March 2002, Mr. Louis Paul Raphael Macque came to see Lalit militant Roland Fozoo at his home twice for assistance as he said he had been beaten up by the police. They live in the same region. Being concerned about this case, Roland Fozoo and Devianand Narrain went to see him at his house the next day. It was just as Mr. Macque started narrating to the two Lalit militants in his sitting room how he had been beaten up, that the police intervened, and arrested Roland Fozoo and Devianand Narrain on the spot.

At the Rose Belle police station where they were taken, the police insulted them, insulted Lalit members, and told them that in Rose Belle, the CID was boss, not like in Curepipe (where Lalit had campaigned against police brutality which led to the CID chief inspector Raddhoa, accused in numerous police brutality cases, had been transferred to a post where he had no contact with the public). The police also insulted Lalit for having campaigned against the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a repressive law voted by the MMM-MSM government despite public outcry and despite the resignation of two Presidents of the Republic of Mauritius who refused to sign the Bill on human rights grounds.

Roland Fozoo and Devianand Narrain were charged as having been "wilfully and unlawfully found in the private premises, not belonging to them and without giving a satisfactory explanation for their presence there"- this charge is called "Rogue and Vagabond" in the Criminal Code Act (Suplementary).

They were prosecuted in Mahebourg District Court and finally, in October 2002, the Magistrate dismissed laid against them by police. The Magistrate in her judgement pointed to the "many contradictions among the versions given by each one of the prosecution witnesses" and highlighted some of the more gross ones. The Magistrate also noted that Mr Macque in his cross-examination had been arrested a few days before the incident, had been questioned and beaten up by the police. The Magistrate also noted that Mr. Macque stated in cross-examination that he had simply signed his statement, the contents of which he did not know, and he did so under the threat of brutality on the part of the police. She said that he even added that it was Inspector Goorah who had threatened him and the police officers had been swearing at him and at the two Lalit militants.

Devianand Narrain is a central committee member of Lalit. He is the Secretary of a well-known union, the Construction and Allied Workers Union that led one of the rare "legal" strikes of some 800 workers employed by the parastatal "Development Works Corporation", which ended with a 10-year court case (still ongoing) for compensation. He is the Assistant Secretary of the General Workers Federation, and also active in the wrestling sports federation. He is on the Executive Committee of Ledikasyon Pu Travayer (the "Education for Workers" association), an association that teaches adults how to read and write, campaigns for the recognition of the Kreol language, and operates as a resource centre for the labour movement and for workers' organisations.

Roland Fozoo has been active in Lalit since 1985. He is well known is his neighbourhood both for his commitment as a Lalit member and because he is active in social movements at neighbourhood level. He was a candidate in Village Council elections in his region. He was one of the people who contributed to stopping the last phase of the February 1999 riot triggered by the death of Kaya in high-security police cells, from deteriorating into communal fighting in his neighbourhood, when he initiated, with other influential people in his neighbourhood "peace talks" with the other camp, and helped to convince people not to give in to communal provocation, of any sort. He has been active in Lalit campaigns against the Public Security Act, a repressive law giving police draconian powers that was proposed by the preceding government in 1999, and in the campaign against the Prevention of Terrorism Act voted through by the present government despite widespread opposition in the country.