This article is based on an abridged version of the statement submitted formally on 16 September, 2006 by Barrister Jean Claude Bibi to the Minister of Justice at the latter's request. Mr. Bibi was due to give public testimony for the first time at the JUSTICE meeting of victims of police brutality held on 16 September based on his statement written down on 16 July. This article also relies on Mr. Bibi's speech at the meeting at which he was one of ten victims of police violence present and testifying.
On 11 July 2006 Mr Jean Claude Bibi, Barrister and human rights activist, had a client with him who needed to give himself up to the police. He telephoned the Majir Crime Investigation Team which was dealing with this case of a hold-up. Assitant Superintendent of Police Raddhooa picked up the phone, and on recognising Mr. Bibi's voice began insulting him, screaming abuse and obscenities into the telephone, and threatening him never to ring again, before hanging up on the Barrister.
Mr. Bibi immediately reported ASP Raddhooa to his superior officer, ACP Seeboo. He said he would get another officer to contact the lawyer in connection with his client. It is vital to know that this is the second time Mr. Bibi has had to report ASP Raddhooa for violent and obscene language and refusal to speak to him as Barrister; it is also vital to know that Mr. Bibi, had the first time actually put in complaints to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Commissioner of Police (CP). Nothing came of either. That was in February, 2006.
As ACP Seeboo had promised, a certain Insp. Lazare received Mr. Bibi and his client, Mr. Arjalee, who was giving himself up, at MCIT in Curepipe the same day. A second Police Officer with the diary book in front of him was present in the same room. Insp. Lazare announced that he would not record the full statement, as previously arranged by telephone, and that Mr. Arjalee would be detained. Another date would be fixed for the statement. An entry was made to this effect by the police officer with the diary book.
Mr. Arjalee at this point requested that a phrase be added saying he would give his statement in Mr. Bibi's presence.
Upon hearing this, the Police Officer with the diary book flew into a rage, breaking into obsceneties and insults directed at Mr. Arjalee. Mr Bibi was shocked. He pointed out to Insp. Lazare that his client's request was reasonable. The Officer then began insulting Mr. Bibi, himself, saying he didn't take orders from Barristers. Mr. Bibi's appealed to the Inspector to call the officer to order, he did nothing. The police officer accused Mr. Bibi of making statements against his boss, ASP Raddhooa on radio programs about human rights violations. He even said that Mr. Rajesh Ramlogun's death in custody was no concern of Mr. Bibi's as the victim of police brutality was a "malbar", thus none of his business. He threatened in very obscene language that he would beat up Mr. Bibi, stating, "When you come in here, you never know what state you'll be in when you leave". By then the police officer was standing up and shouting in a frenzy: "K.. l.., l.. sorma, aret mwa sinon mo pu tuy sa l.. so mama la!" (Extreme obsceneties, including death threat.)
The officer then left the room, but could still be heard screaming obscenities from other parts of the building against Mr. Bibi and other lawyers. Other police officers joined in loudly, agreeing that lawyers who criticize police officers for human rights violations should be beaten up. "Bizin kas zot l..!" was being chanted by a chorus of frenzied police officers. The Police Officer came back, together with some four or five police officers. They brutally took Mr. Arjaree to another office in the building. Before being taken away, there was the touching scene of reversed roles, when Mr. Arjalee asked the Police Officer why he was insulting his lawyer.
Then about 10 police officers trooped into the office where Mr. Bibi was sitting. Insults, threats and obscenities were then yelled at him from close range. The Police Officers screamed at him that he defended terrorists, rapists, thieves and murderers. One threatened that if criminals rape Mr. Bibi's wife, he would come begging the MCIT to beat them up. The Officers behaved riotously. A few at a time, they would put their faces close to Mr. Bibi's ears, shouting obscenities at him, while others kicked office chairs around violently. The noise was infernal.
Mr. Bibi, like all those who suffer this kind of torture, felt scared. His heartbeat, he says, had quickened. He felt very cold inside his body. He was left feeling traumatized. He maintained his dignity, doubly trapped by being cornered behind a table and by needing to get an entry put in the diary book, remaining silent throughout, except to sigh disbelief at what he was seeing and hearing. Mr. Bibi of course realized that it was a scenario, one which the participants had often acted out before. He was in fact being subjected to the same ill-treatment as he knew his clients had. It was a bizarre experience for a Barrister.
Most of the officers then left the room, and ASP Raddhooa himself appeared, as the scenario dictated. He said: "Hey you, don't come here making a racket in my offices!" He then launched into a tirade of personal verbal attacks punctuated by vicious obscenities. He said Mr. Bibi was worse than the criminals he arrested, called him a racist who hated "malbar" (sic), actually using this abusive language. He accused Mr Bibi of conspiring with the Commissioner of Police against him. He hurled abuse at others he called "anti-malbar (sic) people" naming Finlay Salesse, Barristers Peeroo, Ivan Collendaveloo. He accused Mr. Bibi of telling lies against him on radio. He ranted on about Mr Bibi supposedly being in a communalist plot behind the recent Supreme Court decision to award Mrs. Desmarais damages, naming the other co-conspirators as Judge Balancy, DPP Hamuth and Principal State Counsel Magwa. Other diatribes included that he, Raddhooa, was not scared of Barrister Assad Peeroo whose mother was not worthy to be a Judge of the Supreme Court, that Berenger would never be Prime Minister again, that Mr. Bibi was a vile mercenary paid by Islamic terrorists, that the present Prime Minister could sleep soundly "lor so de zorey" knowing Raddhooa could be trusted. It was a tirade of defamatory abuse of the worst sort.
Mr. Raddhooa was completely out of control. His features were distorted with rage. He was incoherent and seemed dangerous. Mr. Bibi, who had initially tried to reason with the man, resorted to silence
Then ASP Raddhooa shouted an order to his men in English: Arrest him!" Then in Kreol: " Fu li dan sel!" None of his men moved, so he shouted: "Arrest him! Remove his tie before he hangs himself and I get accused of killing a Kreol (sic)."
Mr. Bibi had remained seated throughout.
At this point he stood up, began placing his watch and mobile phone on the table, accepting a state of arrest. Nothing happened. So he sat down again. ASP Raddhooa went on ranting. The swearing was degrading, full of race hatred and mysogyny, and intended to humiliate and intimidate. The objective was clear. To terrorise the Barrister. He says he did feel physically threatened.
ACP Raddhooa and all the other Police Officers then left the office Mr. Bibi was in.
Mr. Bibi was later summoned to ASP Raddhooa's office for what turned out to be a surrealistic experience. Raddhooa had transformed himself into another person. He was completely calm. All signs of disorder had vanished from his personality. The raving creature was gone, now replaced by a quiet, smiling, charming one. He even took Mr. Bibi's hand gently across his desk, explaining how hard-working a policeman he was, how no innocent people ever got beaten up by his men. He said he knew that Mr. Bibi would go to Radio One, to the NHRC and to the Commissioner of Police to complain.
Mr. Bibi reminded him that he had been insulted by him over the phone before and had complained both to the NHRC and to the Commissioner of Police and that nothing had come of it. ASP Raddhooa said Mr. Bibi should ignore the Commissioner of Police, who was ineffectual. Raddhooa added that he might eventually have to pay a fine for "insults", if Mr. Bibi went ahead and made this known, but it was unlikely, he said, as he had 20 witnesses and Mr. Bibi none. Mr. Bibi remarked that a charge of insults, if it ever materialized, would carry a fine of Rs500. Mr. Bibi then left that office.
Only to find that his client had been beaten up in another part of the building. So traumatised was his client, his lip split, holding a tissue to his face, tears in his eyes, that he shook his head when Mr. Bibi asked him to give a statement about the beating up. He has since been too scared to continue instructing Mr. Bibi. This is the aim of the violence he and his lawyer suffered. To reduce everyone to silence.
Mr. Bibi has not been silent. He immediately went over to recount the entire episode to the Magistrate Seebaluck in his Chambers at the Curepipe Court. The same day, he informed JUSTICE, and at a chance meeting also informed Mrs. Aase Smedler (then UNDP Chief), Professor Carlson Anyangwe (Human Rights expert), Catholic Bishop Piat about his traumatic experience. On 16 September, after his return from a visit to his wife and children in Belgium, Mr. Bibi made a full statement to JUSTICE. The Minister probably heard that he was due to make this statement, as the news spread fast, and thus requested a written statement on the deplorable incident.