Friday, October 17, 2014


Government is pursuing “all possible diplomatic and legal avenues” to spare the prisoners the death penalty.

Time appears have run out for the three Seychellois - Ronny Jean, Yvon Vinda and Dean Loze - imprisoned in the oasis town of Qena. Indeed, the highest appellate court in Egypt has upheld the death sentence handed down to them in April last year, despite efforts by government to have their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. In a statement issued yesterday, the ministry of Foreign affairs indicated that this decision “implies that execution orders will follow”. The rejection of their appeal means that, barring a last minute miracle, the execution of the prisoners seems all but inevitable.

Along with the skipper of their South Africa flagged boat - a 75 year-old Englishmen named Charles Ferndale -, Messrs Jean, Vinda and Loze were arrested on the Red Sea in April 2011 with three tonnes of cannabis.In an interview with The Telegraph in 2013, Mr Ferndale affirmed that he thought he was ferrying incense between Yemen and Jordan when he was caught, not cannabis. Earlier he had sailed from Seychelles to Oman and had recruited the Seychellois sailors after his original crew had abandoned ship “for fear of rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden”. He claims to have been framed by an Egyptian named Gamal who had paid his fuel costs.

At the time of the interview Mr Ferndale and the three Seychellois seamen were being held in solitary confinement in Qena prison. The article also stated that “in nearly all cases, death penalties for drugs cases in Egypt are commuted to life imprisonment”. Tragically, this case appears to be the exception, despite government taking all “all measures practical and feasible to ensure that the Seychellois obtained the required legal and consular representation”.