Monday, May 18, 2015


The bullet casings still haven’t been found by police.

Who does the skull found in Bel Ombre belong to? As the search for missing parts of the body whose skull was first found last Monday goes on at the site of the H Hotel in Bel Ombre, speculations are mounting as to the identity of the “victim”.

While the police say they haven’t recovered any bullet casings so far, sources tell this newspaper that landscape workers on the construction site said they had uncovered “at least ten bullet casings” last Monday. The Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) for Policing, Reginald Elizabeth, told this newspaper on Saturday that the workers had also confirmed the presence of bullet casings but that the police had not yet been able to recover any. Metal detectors are being used to search for the casings.

Forensic digs for skull on Saturday. Inset, when the skull was first found last Monday. Next to it, a piece of blue fabric.

Other police sources say that this difficulty is due to the fact that the crime scene had been tampered with. For instance, workers were told by their landscaping supervisor to bury the skull and the bullet casings as soon as they were find. The supervisor also failed to alert the police of the discovery, an “oversight” that may cause prejudice to the enquiry since the bullet casings haven’t been found yet.

On top of this, the skull was reburied in another location and a tree planted on it. ACP Elizabeth said the workers had “given a burial” to the skull. But had it not been for some workers who decided to take photos of the skull and of the bullet casings to post on social media, asking whether there had been a cemetery at the site, family members of some of the people who have gone missing in the country would never have been able to even contemplate closure.

ACP Elizabeth says the police are still looking for the bullet casings.

For, like ACP Elizabeth confirmed on Saturday, the skull “evidently belongs to a person who had been missing”. The bullet casings as well as the appearance of an entry wound in the jaw, suggest the person was shot dead. It will be up to the police to establish all this by looking at the evidence available. But more importantly, DNA testing will allow family members now – whoever they are – to “make their peace and find closure”.

The Commissioner of police Ernest Quatre was officially informed of the discovery by Seychelles National Party (SNP) leader Wavel Ramkalawan on Friday evening. “I’d just landed in Seychelles when I was informed of this discovery. After I saw the photos, I realized it was something serious and I called the Commissioner of Police to tell him I believed this deserved a full scale criminal investigation, ”Mr Ramkalawan said.

Director of the National Crime Services Division, Bruce Bursik speaks to ACP Elizabeth after the skull was recovered.
He adds that he gave the police a copy of all the photos that had been taken of the skull and the bullet casings the next day. ACP Elizabeth confirmed that, “an individual informed the Commissioner of Police of the matter on Friday evening”, remarking that a team from Forensics arrived at the H hotel in Bel Ombre at about 8am on Saturday.

It didn’t take the police long to find the skull. The police had interviewed the workers who found the skull and they directed the police to the spot where it was reburied. A rather large area of the hotel is still cordoned off as a crime scene and the search will continue today, sources tell this newspaper. There was no search operation yesterday however and as of this morning, no other parts of the skeleton or bullet casings had been found.

A large area of the hotel site has been cordoned off.
The police’s first task is to determine whether the skull belongs to a male or a female as well as the age of the person at the time of his or her death. This, ACP Elizabeth said, will serve to eliminate possibilities. This preliminary investigation can and will be done in Seychelles. Further DNA testing will be done overseas if needed, the head of Policing said.

Asked whether rumours affirming that the remains of a blue t-shirt had also been found were true, Mr Elizabeth replied in the negative. It is not known how long the police will keep the area cordoned off and when landscaping works at the hotel construction site will be allowed to resume. The hotel is supposed to officially open in August.


Although the police are yet to begin identification process of the skull, sources say there is a strong possibility it could belong of Alton Ah-Time. Mr Ah-Time disappeared on 13 September 1984 after he received a phone call asking him to come to the beach not far from where the skull was found on Monday. He was never seen again but his car was discovered in the vicinity the next day.

Alton Ah-Time aged 25.
Mr Ah-Time was not yet 30 years-old at the time of his disappearance. He was a member of the Mouvement pour la Resistance (MPR) led by the late Gérard Hoarau from London. Mr Hoarau was killed in 1985 by an unidentified gunman on the doorstep of his London home. Mr Ah-Time’s best friend Simon Desnousse was also found dead in 1983, in a burnt car at Anse Forbans.

Mr Ah-Time was presumed dead by his family but his body has never been recovered.

“The police should have a missing persons file and since the skull found shows that the death was not registered, I think it would be safe to say that the police could start with DNA testing so as to proceed by elimination to be able to identify who the skull belongs to. This will allow closure. If it’s not Alton Ah-Time, then it’s not him but if it is him, then the family can do a burial and close that chapter of their life”, Wavel Ramkalawan said.

This newspaper has learnt that there is a possibility that the Commissioner of Police could ask to meet members of the Ah- Time family today but this information remains unconfirmed.