Yesterday, Lalit militants, members of unions and associations flocked to District Court no.3 in Port Louis to hear the case of police v.s. Lindsey Collen. She is being charged with "insulting police" on 19th December, 2002.
On that day, Lalit, trade union federations, social organisations in the "Platform Against Bush" met in Marie Reine de la Paix Social Centre to organise a demonstration against Bush. Bush was to visit Mauritius during the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA Forum) in January 2003. Four policemen on that day came inside the private premises of the Social Centre where the Platform Against Bush meeting was to be held. Members of the Platform, including our members Lindsey Collen and Ram Seegobin objected to their presence, and asked for their names. The policemen refused to leave the premises and even refused to give their names. It was this incident that led to false charges being laid against the two Lalit militants.
Both Lindsey Collen and Ram Seegobin, another Lalit militant is being accused of the very same charge of "insulting policemen", involving the very same witnesses. These two cases, curiously enough, are being heard separately. In his case, which was heard last month, before the very same Magistrate Pentiah, in the very same District Court no. 3, Chief Inspector Pedre, police officer Ellapah and their witness, Mr. Raghooputh got entangled in a web of contradictions.
Yesterday in Court, police witness Dussoye claimed that he personally informed Lindsey Collen of the charges against her at her home in Bambous on the 28th of January 2003 at 12.49 hrs. He claimed that Lindsey Collen had opened the door, and that he met her in the sitting room. There he claimed that he spoke to both Ram Seegobin and Lindsey Collen. He said he couldn't remember any detail about her sitting room. He said that Lindsey Collen told him that she would not give a statement on the instructions of her lawyer.
Under cross-examination, Chief Inspector Pedre said he was unsure whether the Social Centre was private premises. He denied that Ram Seegobin had informed him that the meeting being held there was a private one and that the police had not been notified. He denied having told Ram Seegobin that he does not take orders from him and this is what caused the whole problem.
Chief Inspector Pedre also denied that there was a conversation there where he said "Why don't you like policemen", and that someone had replied "We don't like policemen because they kill innocent people". He denied having replied "People like you should be killed". He said he was not aware that there was an article in L'Express newspaper quoting this in italics. He was shown this newspaper cutting in Court.
He denied that there were trade unionists, representatives of social organisations present there. When asked how he knows that the meeting was a Lalit meeting, he alleged that an unknown person to him, who he claims is a member of Lalit, informed him that there was a Lalit meeting at the Social Centre.
He denied that he was irritated when Lindsey Collen asked him for his identity, for his number and name, and he refused to do so, and also replied "Mo Komiser ena nimero li? Ki nimero u pe rode ar mwa?"
He rejected police witness Raghooputh's version of the incident. When confronted with the evidence given by Mr. Raghooputh that he came to the Social Centre at 14.45 or 14.50 hrs and not 14.25 hrs as he claimed. He said that he had nothing to say. Later, when re-examined, he said in Court that he does not synchronise his watch with that of the public's.
The next Court hearing has been fixed for 19th January, 2005.
The judgement in Ram Seegobin's case has been fixed for 30th November, 2004.