News on Sunday

Assault of detainee: Magistrate lambastes policemen on guard

Senior District Magistrate Ms Padmini Mauree, sitting at the District Court of Rodrigues, raised doubt as to whether the police was present when a detainee was beaten by a hostile crowd. Concluding her judgement last week, the Magistrate was of the view that the Prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and dismissed the case.  The accused was charged for assault with aggravating circumstances in breach of section 228 (1) of the Criminal Code as amended by Act 36 of 2008. The offence was committed on 17 January 2014 at La Ferme Health Centre. On that date, the accused “wilfully and unlawfully inflicted wounds and blows upon the complainant with such act of violence causing sickness for more than 20 days” to the latter. Accused pleaded not guilty to the charge and was represented by Counsel in the conduct of his defence. The main witness, Corporal Edouard, deposed to the effect that on the material date he and his colleague, Constable Perrine, were escorting a detainee in ambulance at La Ferme Health Centre. There was a mob of angry people surrounding them. The people were very wild. Among the crowd there was one Alain Tolbize who was very angry and he gave the detainee a fisticuffs blow. After that, they were able to calm the other person along with the accused. Then the police officer came to know that the detainee sustained a fracture on the left jaw. The detainee was admitted at Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He did not remember for how long. He identified the accused in Court as the one who assaulted him. The Corporal and Constable Perrine sat with the detainee at the back of the ambulance. He agreed that the detainee had used a knife at the airport to assault a passenger. The latter received several stab wounds to his stomach. “The end result of the series of conflicting versions has seriously marred, wholly undermined and completely discredited the version of the prosecution witnesses as to render their version most unreliable and unsafe to be relied upon to convict the accused of the offence charged,” the Magistrate concluded. Regarding the statements given by the two policemen, the magistrate said: “Both of them have lamentably failed to establish these elements with certainty and in a way as to collaborate the version of the complainant.” Magistrate Ms Padmini Mauree went on in quite severe terms to say that: “The priority for these two officers appear to have been to put a pretence that they have performed their duty of escort to the best of their abilities while the complainant himself gave them the lie that the offence occurred while they were not around which leaves doubt as to whether they were indeed present at the time of the offence which could explain so many inconsistencies in their versions. In trying to cover themselves, if they had not been present at the time of the offence, they just took the name of any person which appeared to have been close by to show that they have discharged their duty of protecting the complainant which may explain why the accused has found himself in the accused’s box today.”
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