Original language

English

Country
Seychelles
Date of text
Type of court
National - higher court
Sources
Court name
Supreme Court of Seychelles
Reference number
Criminal Side No. 11 of 2003
Free tags
Wild species & ecosystems
Sea
Justice(s)
Perera A., R.
Abstract
Seven Accused were convicted for offences under the Wild Animals and Bird Protection Act (Cap 143), and were sentenced to serve terms of 2 years imprisonment each for the unlawful possession of 1141 Kg of turtle meat and the killing of approximately 40 boobies being protected birds. The Supreme Court made order that the vessel “Kalkal” seized by the Police on reasonable belief that it was used in the commission of the offence be kept in the custody of Court according to Section 2 A of the said Act. Section 2 A (3) provides that where a fine is imposed, the vessel shall be held until the whole fine is paid, and if any fine remains unpaid after sixty days, the vessel may be sold towards the payment of the fine. Section 2 A (4) provides that where a custodial sentence is imposed instead of a fine, the Court shall release the vessel. None of the convicts claimed ownership of the vessel though. The Court expressed the view that where a fine is imposed on the offenders, who do not own the vessel, and it remains unpaid after 60 days, and consequently the vessel which belongs to a third party is sold, the offenders in effect go unpunished. The Court applied the principle of sentencing that the offender who has been convicted should be punished and the principle of sentencing which says that it was wrong to impose heavy fines on the assumption that someone other than the offender would provide the means to pay for it. Partly on that ground custodial sentences were imposed instead of a fine. Nevertheless the vessel was kept in custody. The Court stated that if an application is made by the lawful owner, he should first explain the circumstances in which his boat was used by the convicted persons. He needed to prove that the vessel had been used in the commission of the offences under the Wild Animals and Bird Protection Act without his knowledge. The Applicant made an application for release of the vessel. He claimed to be the lawful owner. After the Applicant and other persons involved had testified, the Supreme Court was satisfied that the vessel had been used without the knowledge of the Applicant, and ordered the release of the vessel from its custody.