24 January 2018

Seychelles: Suspended Seychellois Supreme Court Justice Given One Week to Analyse Information in Case

The lawyer of suspended Supreme Court Justice Durai Karunakaran has been given one week by her client's former court to analyse and respond to the 'amended statement of demands' presented by former members of the Constitutional Appointments Authority (CAA).

Karunakaran was brought before the court on Tuesday after filing a case against the Authority on the basis that he did not get a chance to be heard after he was suspended in October 2016 by James Michel who was the president at that time.

The suspension came as a result of the decision of the Constitutional Appointments Authority to refer Karunakaran to a tribunal of inquiry to investigate the judge's professional conduct.

Alexia Amesbury, the lawyer of Karunakaran, told SNA that she has requested one week to analyse the 'amended statement of demands' presented by two former members of the authority. The two members had asked the court to intervene in the case as their reputations were being tarnished.

"There are serious admissions made in the amended statement that was not there before, which might affect the credibility of the party involved," says Amesbury.

Upon the instruction of Seychelles Court of Appeal, the two former members were told to prepare a statement of demands to say what are their involvement and what they want in the case.

Amesbury added that: "There is a list of documents relating to these admissions that has never been presented to the court and we want to see them."

The lawyer of the CAA members said that she will not comment as it might add prejudice to the case.

According to Article 134 of the Seychelles Constitution, a justice of appeal or judge may be removed from office only for inability to perform the functions of the office, whether arising from infirmity of body or mind, or from any other cause and for misbehaviour.

The article also states that the suspension may on the advice of the Constitutional Appointments Authority be revoked at any time by the president of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

The Constitutional Appointments Authority is the body that recommends the appointment of constitutionals posts including that of judges to the president.

The court is also investigating the interference of Chief Justice Mathilda Thowmey in the case of Karunakaran.

The CAA's attorney, Anthony Derjaques, said that he doubts that the Chief Justice stopped intervening in the case after she made a statement that she will be recusing herself.

"Either way this is already an admission of interference and now the entire case is now proven because the CAA must be impartial and independent. Moreover, as a complainant, she cannot set up a tribunal comprising of her own judges. This is a conflict of interest," said Derjaques.

Derjauqes said that the complainants have not filed any evidence or Affidavit to support their case.

"We have attached a list of documents that we are relying on and the lawyer of the former CAA is telling us to come to her office to have a look. We don't just look at the evidence we have to take time to examine them," he added.

Indian-born Justice Durai Karunakaran - also a naturalised Seychellois citizen - was appointed as Counsel and started practicing law as Barrister and Attorney-at-law in Seychelles in 1983. Before his suspension, he was a Supreme Court judge.

The case is being heard by Justice Egonde Ntende, Mohan Burham and Samia Govinden and will resume on February 20.

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