VICTORIA – The SEYCHELLES Magistrate’s Court has remanded until 28 NOVEMBER EIGHT IRANIANS arrested on drug-related charges.

An Iranian dhow intercepted in December (SNA)

The Anti-Narcotics Bureau and the Coast Guard have issued a statement saying they intercepted the vessel, a dhow, in the SEYCHELLES waters.

They say they managed to seize some 500 grams of what they suspect to be cannabis resin and TWO-POINT-FIVE grams of heroin during the exercise.

SNA says only EIGHT out of the 10 IRANIANS appeared in court on MONDAY together with TWO SEYCHELLOIS who were arrested last SATURDAY in connection with the case.

It quotes the lawyer of the IRANIAN suspects as saying the other TWO IRANIANS failed to appear because they are in hospital after being badly beaten by officers who conducted the search on the boat.

CLIFFORD ANDRE, who was lobbying the court to release the IRANIANS on bail, says the heroin was found on only ONE suspect for his own consumption, and there is no reason to remand all the suspects on the same grounds.

The legal practitioner representing the TWO SEYCHELLOIS, NICOLE GABRIEL, says there is no reason to remand the suspects, because they have been brought before the court on the basis of conspiracy.

He says until now nothing has come forward to justify the link between the IRANIANS and the SEYCHELLOIS, who were found in the vicinity in their own boat during the operation.

SNA says this is not the FIRST time IRANIAN nationals have been arrested in the SEYCHELLES’ waters on drug-related cases.

It says in JANUARY, the Supreme Court of SEYCHELLES sentenced TWO IRANIANS, EMAM BAKHSH TARANI and HATTAM MOTHASHIMINA to life in prison for the importation of heroin and opium.

Both IRANIANS and NINE other crew members were arrested on board a dhow, a type of sailing vessel common to the GULF ARAB states, in mid-APRIL 2016.

Their capture followed a joint operation by the SEYCHELLES Coast Guard and the former National Drugs Enforcement Agency.

The other crew members were found not guilty and released by the court late in 2016, but the EIGHT IRANIAN were repatriated to their country in JUNE last year.

Legal experts say for a small island state like SEYCHELLES, where tourism is the economic pillar, any challenge becomes a tourism industry problem, and heroin abuse poses a threat to the sector./Sabanews/cam

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