15 May 2017

Seychelles' Court Gives Officials 2 Weeks to Compile Evidence in Sex Assault Case

The Seychelles' Supreme Court on Monday gave prosecutors two weeks to compile all evidence in the case of a Mauritian man charged with sexual abuse for an alleged attack against a Russian travel writer at a resort.

The accused, Ravind Soudhooa, 37, who is working for the Six Senses Zil Pasyon on Felicite Island, appeared before the court Monday.

The prosecutor representing the office of the Attorney General, Lansinglu Romei, said officials were unable to gather all evidence in time to proceed with the trial.

"We are still waiting for the complete forensic report, which includes the DNA test, which has to be done outside of the jurisdiction," Romei said.

The case was heard by Justice Ronny Govinden, who argued that the accused must be tried within a reasonable period.

"DNA tests can be done quickly in Seychelles, therefore, this court herewith gives a time span of two weeks for all evidence to be presented to the defense lawyer and the court as well," Govinden said.

All evidence must be submitted by May 29, whereby the accused will appear in court for the third time.

The defense lawyer, Elvis Chetty, told SNA that it is strange that someone is being charged in the first place without evidence.

Chetty said that in normal procedures the "file containing all evidence is first brought to the office of the Attorney General to examine if there is enough substantial evidence to prosecute someone." He added that he is not sure if there is a case to be heard at all.

The lawyer of Six Senses Zil Pasyon resort, Laura Valabjhi, said the hotel is supporting its worker in any way it can while the case is ongoing.

The accused has been released on bail and his passport forfeited.

The Russian travel writer, 39, alleged in an email to media houses last week that her attacker raped her for 20 minutes and had used a knife as a weapon. She had said that her attacker accessed her room through an open balcony door.

The journalist has since left Seychelles and had said she hoped to testify for court via Skype but had at the time not yet been contacted by authorities in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.


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