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Friday, 21 December 2012 11:02

Conviction for kidnapping and sequestration withheld on appeal

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Abdool Gafoor Fakira, Sanjiv Kumar Ramjuttun and Jean Denis Volbert will not have to each serve a prison sentence after they were found guilty of abduction and sequestration of Mitradev Ramnarain by the Intermediate Court.
Upon appeal made separately against their conviction, the appeal bench, consisting of Justices Eddy Balancy and Saheed Bhaukaurally decided to consolidate the three cases for one judgment only. In its ruling delivered recently the appeal bench withheld the judgment of the trial Court and acquitted the first two appellants while the conviction against the third one is maintained. However taking into consideration the clean record of Volbert, the bench decided to grant him the conditional discharge.

The three appellants were prosecuted together with one Prakash Unmole with the offence of sequestration in breach of section 258 (1) of the Criminal Code. Fakira appealed on two grounds: magistrate’s failure to consider the case proved beyond reasonable doubt and that the sentence imposed on him is harsh and excessive.  Exculpating this appellant, the two judges have this to say to justify their stand: “At any rate the statement of this appellant does not contain any facts demonstrating any “enlèvement” by Fakira nor did the prosecution hold any independent evidence to that effect. The appeal of Fakira succeeds and his conviction is quashed.”

As for appellant Ramjuttun, the only evidence against him was his own statement given to the police. On the material date he was driving his uncle’s car to accompany Unmole to distribute invitation cards for a marriage. For the bench the central issue concerned his alleged participation in the sequestration. Was he a co-author in the acts as averred in the information? For the Magistrate, Ramjuttun ‘s acts were not those of an innocent man. He did play a crucial role in kidnapping Ramnarain (Vicky).

The appeal bench did not share the view of the Magistrate. The two Judges reached this conclusion: “We are of the view that the Magistrate misapprehended the evidence. According to the version narrated in his statement and which, we repeat, is the only evidence against Ramjuttun, he had been directed to drive all throughout the different places by Praveen (Unmole). At no time did he materially and physically get hold or personally interfere with the freedom of movement of Vicky…For these reasons we consider that Ramjuttun has been wrongly found guilty under the count he was prosecuted. We quash his conviction.” In the case of Volbert, the bench maintained the conviction.

As far as the sentence is concerned, the appeal Court took into consideration the statement made by Vicky on two occasions before the trial Court that all the appellants were friends  and that he  did not insist  to pursue with the criminal case. Given that Volbert has a clean record and taking into account that ten years have elapsed since the occurrence of this  offence, they granted the appellant an absolute discharge.
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