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Historic Charges under Anti-Torture Law fixed for 27 August

20.05.2008

After the conclusion of "foul play" by Magistrate Raj Seebaluck in the case of the death in detention on 15 January 2006 of Rajesh Ramlogun, charges have been laid against four of the Major Crimes Investigation Team officers involved in questioning him. The case was due for a hearing today at Court Room number 13 in the Intermediate Court in Port Louis.

These officers, now suspended from the Police force, were in the MCIT, a team that is within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). They are accused of subjecting the late Rajesh Ramlogun to "inhuman and degrading treatment contrary to the Constitution" under the relatively new anti-torture law. This is, in fact, the first case being heard under the new law. LALIT representative, Rajni Lallah, described the charges as "historically important". For some reason, the Press gives little coverage to reports and analysis of these historic charges which follow the shocking death in detention of Mr. Ramlogun.

The accused officers were at the time under the direction of the notorious Prem Raddhoa, who subsequently died of a heart attack. The accused, Sergeant Vishiraj Jagdawoo, Corporal Rashid Madarbux and Constables Kinsley Potie and Evans Levasseur, appeared in the Intermediate Court in Port Louis today, 20 May 2008, before Magistrates Shameen Hamuth-Lauloo and Veronique Kwok Yin Siong Yen. The widow, Ms. Bindoo Ramlogun was present together, as is the custom, with representatives of JUSTICE and the women's movement.

Lawyer for the accused, Gavin Glover, was not present in Court because he was at the Court of the Assizes. However Rashid Ahmine, for the Prosecution informed the Magistrates that he, too, had had a case fixed before the Assizes, and had formally written, in time, to the Supreme Court to arrange a change so that he could be present for this important case. Mr. Hawoldar was also not present in the Court. The Magistrates informed the four accused officers that, even without the presence of their lawyers, the case would definitely go ahead on the next dates i.e. the 27, 28 and 29 August, 2008 and that all counsel must within one week inform the Court of three other consecutive days that they are free. All the dozen or so witnesses who were present, were warned to be present for the case in August. The various testimonies to be given by doctors will be heard in the second set of three days. Everyone is very interested to hear how ethically and truthfully the men and women of science will depone.

The Magistrates mentioned that this is not the first time that the Court, the Accused, and a bevy of witnesses have all been present only to have a postponement because of the Counsel for the Accused not being available.

Meanwhile, in the Supreme Court on 29 May, there will be the Judicial Review requested by Widow Ramlogun of the Director of Public Prosecutions' decision not to charge only four officers, and to charge them with offences less serious than culpable homicide or murder.

The widow of Rajesh Ramlogun was awarded substantial damages in a Civil Case which the State settled in Court, at the end of 2007. This followed after the award of damages to the widow of the late Reginald Topize, known by his stage name of "Kaya", to Ms. Veronique Topize, even though findings of "No foul play" were returned by Magistrate Kam Sing after 2,000 pages of evidence. The most famous musician in the country, Kaya, (38 years old) was found dead in police cells in February 1999, after being arrested for admitting that he had smoked a joint a few days prior to being questioned by police, who arrested him in direct response to a hysterical campaign in the Press to the effect that people had smoked cannabis publicly at a Concert without the police arresting them. (For details on this see two seminal booklets published by JUSTICE jointly with the MUVMAN LIBERASYON FAM: "Kaya's Death: The Medical Evidence" by Ram Seegobin and "Kaya's Death: Law Keepers and Hypocrites" by Jean Claude Bibi.)

Finding out the truth behind the death of Kaya is supposed to be one of the tasks of the imminent "Truth and Justice Commission". The Bill to set up this Commission was made public on 25 April, 2008 and the Commission is expected to be chaired by Prof. Robert Shell.