Thursday, October 2, 2014


The Chellen family lawyer Veda Baloomoody said he was “wary of the way the Seychelles police is leading the enquiry into Harmon Chellen’s death”.

Mr Baloomoody’s statement comes after the press release issued by Commissioner of Police Ernest Quatre last Wednesday following the announcement by Attorney General Ronny Govinden, that a judicial inquest would be set up to establish the cause of Mr Chellen’s death. In the communiqué, Mr Quatre said that it had been established “through our investigation that Mr Chellen did leave the Port Glaud police station unnoticed and without permission, at around 12.10 on the day of his death, with his body found floating in the sea near l’Islette at Port Glaud at around 2.50pm, that same day”.

“I am very surprised by this latest communiqué of the Seychelles police. It’s the first time I hear that Harmon Chellen was supposed to have left the police station at 12.10! I was there and I saw the Occurrence book and it was down in black and white that Harmon Chellen left the police station at 2.28pm. There was no entry in the Occurrence book that said anything about 12.10. And this makes me even more wary of the way the police enquiry is being led. This is why I am again asking, in the name of the family, that an independent and impartial enquiry be led”, Le Défi Quotidien, a Mauritian newspaper, quoted Mr Baloomoody as saying.

In addition more confusion still remains as originally the Police had stated that “Chellen was brought to the police station for questioning and left without cooperating with the police” which would presumably indicate he was not arrested and were aware that he had left the police station. There was no mention of him going missing and instigating a search. Bruce Bursik a few days later told the media that when Chellen's absence was noticed, the police immediately began searching for him; unequivocally contradicting their earlier statement. And only recently the Attorney General indicated that he is of the opinion that the deceased died whilst in police custody. All these contradictions clearly point to an attempted cover up. The Mauritian autopsy had also revealed injuries to Chellen`s left temple which the Seychelles equivalent had surprisingly missed. The missing shoes and shirt when the body was recovered floating at sea also adds to the mystery.

The lawyer further asked that the enquiry not be led by the police, saying it would be “the only way to find out what happened in the four hours that Mr Chellen was at the police station”.

Inquests into sudden deaths are important. When a person is found dead in suspicious circumstances, or has committed suicide, or has died in police custody, an inquest enables society to investigate the reasons for the death, and provides the family of the deceased with information from a transparent and independent source as to the who, the why and the wherefore of the death. This is important for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is closure. The law recognises this and makes provision for it. In all cases of sudden death the Attorney General has the discretion to order an inquest. In cases where the death is in prison or police custody the Attorney General must order an inquest to be held.

Because the available law was not used as it should for many years, numerous cases of sudden deaths went without being enquired into properly or at all. There are examples of the numerous deaths of escaped prisoners or escaping suspects and the like who were more often not captured alive but died in very suspicious circumstances indeed. All these cases were deserving of an inquest so that the truth would be known once and for all.