R v Samedi (CO 13/2015) [2015] SCSC 165 (29 May 2015);

 

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF SEYCHELLES
Criminal Side: CO 13/2015

[2015] SCSC 165


THE REPUBLIC

versus


RALPH SONNY SAMEDI
Accused

Heard:
Counsel: Ms. Confait, Assistant State Counsel for the Republic
Mrs. Amesbury for the accused


Delivered: 29 May 2015

RULING


Dodin J

[1] This is an application for bail on behalf of the Accused Ralph Sonny Samedi who has been remanded into custody after having been charged with;
- One count of trafficking in 32.493 kilograms of Cannabis herbal material contrary to Section 5 read with Sections 2 and 26[1] of the Misuse of Drugs Act and punishable under Section 29[1] read with 2nd Schedule of the same Act; and
- One count of trafficking in 1.559 kilograms of Cannabis resin contrary to Section 5 read with Sections 2 and 26[1] of the Misuse of Drugs Act and punishable under Section 29[1] read with the 2nd Schedule of the same Act; and
- One count of trafficking in 11.7 grams of heroin (diamorphine) contrary to Section 5 read with Sections 2 and 26[1] of the Misuse of Drugs Act and punishable under Section 29[1] read with the 2nd Schedule of the same Act.
[2] Learned Counsel for the Accused submitted that the contention of the prosecution that the offences are serious; that such offences are on the increase in the country or that the accused may abscond have not been established by the prosecution to the satisfaction of the Court.
[3] Learned Counsel submitted that seriousness of the offences is not a stand along ground which would necessitate remanding of an accused into custody pending trial. Learned Counsel further submitted that the fact that the offences carry high sentences in the event of conviction does not make it more likely that the accused would abscond. She submitted that the Court can impose stringent conditions on the accused which would ensure that the accused appears in Court as necessary.
[4] Learned Counsel referred the Court to the case of Danny Bresson & Others vs Republic SCA44/14 in support of her submission. She submitted that even if the case of Danny Bresson (above) the accused persons were charged with trafficking in 85 kilograms of drugs, the Court of Appeal found it fit to release the accused persons on bail with conditions pending trial.
[5] Learned Counsel submitted that it would be unfair to remand the accused into custody pending trial which might take a long time as the Court’s diary is congested and any trial of the accused is likely to be in a year’s time, considering that the accused is innocent until proven guilty and he is also gainfully employed as a taxi driver with 3 minor children in his care. She moved the Court to release the accused on bail with strict conditions to secure his attendance as necessary.
[6] Learned Counsel for the Republic objected to bail maintaining that there are compelling reasons to remand the accused into custody and that these reasons are linked with the seriousness of the offences which is one of the compelling reason to remand an accused person under Article 18[7] of the Constitution.
[7] Learned Counsel submitted that the affidavit of Agent Lester Solin has established a prima facie case against the accused and the reasons why he should be remanded into custody pending trial.
[8] Learned Counsel further submitted that the defence had been issued with all documents but to date, the accused has not taken the plea so that trial date could be set and such situation is not under the control of the prosecution and should not be a reason to release the accused on bail.
[9] Learned Counsel referred the Court to the case of Republic vs Jean Francois Adrienne where the accused stands charged with trafficking in 49 kilograms of Cannabis and is still on remand after almost 2 years.
[10] Learned Counsel hence moved the Court to dismiss the application for bail and to remand the accused into custody pending trial.
[11] It has long been held that the freedom of the individual is the norm and any form of restriction of that freedom must be for exceptional and compelling reasons permitted by law. One of those exceptions provided by Article 18[7] of the Constitution is the seriousness of the offence. Undoubtedly all offences which ends up before the Supreme Court for trial are serious and hence if seriousness of the offence was to be taken on its own as a reason to remand a person into custody, no person appearing before the Supreme Court would ever be released on bail. It therefore stands to reason that seriousness of the offence is not a stand alone ground where bail is concerned.
[12] The Court therefore must consider other relevant circumstances in order to determine whether it would be prudent in each case to release an accused on bail.
[13] In this case, the Court takes into consideration that an offence which carries a mandatory life sentence if conviction ensures is indeed very serious. Secondly, the Court notes the amount of drugs involved, being over 34 kilograms and consisted of different types of drugs ranging from Cannabis herbal to heroin (diamorphine).
[14] In this case if convicted on all counts, the accused runs the risk of having to serve 2 mandatory life sentences and a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. It is to be noted that for such offences there are no provision for remission if such sentences are imposed, making conviction for such offences much more serious that a charge of murder.
[15] Considering such circumstances, I am satisfied that strong compelling reason exists to deny the accused bail pending trial at present.
[16] I therefore dismiss this application for bail and the accused is remanded into custody accordingly.


Signed, dated and delivered at Ile du Port on 29 May 2015

 

G Dodin
Judge of the Supreme Court