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he much respected English Historian C.V Wedgwood once wrote "it has been
said that without passion there might be no errors, but without passion there
would certainly be no history".
We are writing history with the present report on a miscarriage of justice which will
sorely enlighten each and every one of us on all the weaknesses of our system. But
to succeed in our immense task, we need that the Republic itself accepts the
principle that we can go wrong. And when we have wronged any human being, we,
as citizens of the Republic, will fail in our duties if we do not stand up to right the
wrongs that we have done. "We"... yes, as justice is delivered by the State in the
name of each and every one of us.
In the past centuries, justice was done in the name of the Monarch on the grounds
that he/she is the representative of God on Earth and therefore cannot do anything
Today, we must never fall into the trap of self-complacency when it comes to the
search for the truth.
Truth will remain elusive if we choose to close our eyes. And the choice is here for
each and every one of us to make, without any sort of frontier. We will only make
history when we humbly, yet boldly decide to expose and confront the flaws
crippling our system, thus letting the whole truth flourish of its own strength and
light. No compromise or concession can exist in a Republic pointing towards
exposure of the bare truth.
While venturing in the alleys of justice to correct its eventual shortcomings, we
may certainly come to err. However, each and every one of us may also come to
the point of reaping the fruits of a job well done.
History itself will judge if we were keeping doing wrong or attempting with the
drive of passion to mend what was within our reach to mend.
27th June 2013
This report is dedicated to all those
who abhor Miscarriage of Justice and
all forms of Injustice.
This report contains information obtained from as far as possible within the Republic of Mauritius where there is no Freedom of
Reasonable efforts have been made to publish reliable data and information.
This report or any part may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, microfilming, and recording, or by any information
storage or retrieval system, provided necessary references are made.
Direct all inquiries or acknowledgements to Me. Rama Valayden, Teeluck Court, Port- Louis
Printed in the Republic of Mauritius by Graphic & Prints Ltd
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Safety of convictions and Miscarriage of Justice
Chapter 3: Are we immune to a Miscarriage of Justice?
Chapter 4: A Tunnel vision
Chapter 5: Victims of Miscarriage of Justice
Chapter 6: Miscarriage of Justice around the world
Criminal (In)justice System
Chapter 7: The Police Enquiry
Chapter 8: Preliminary Enquiry
Chapter 9: Assizes
Chapter 10: The ‘Thupsee Brothers’ saga
Chapter 11: Witness Li Tung
Chapter 12: Time is of the essence!
Chapter 13: The mutilated body
Chapter 14: The red wire
Chapter 15: An Empty safe
Chapter 16: Convenient disappearance
Chapter 17: Impartiality of Trial Judge
Chapter 18: Exclusion of a potential member of the Jury
Chapter 19: The expert from Scotland Yard
Chapter 20: Threatening letters
Chapter 21: Raymond Zamir
Chapter 22: Mrs. Latour
Chapter 23: Police misleading the Prime Minister
Chapter 24: Fire Services
Chapter 25: The tape
Chapter 26: Confessions
Chapter 27: CCTV cameras
Chapter 28: Sequestration case
Chapter 29: Iron pole
Escadron de la Mort
Chapter 30: Who were they?
Chapter 31: The bigger picture
Post 27th June 2013
Chapter 32: What’s next?
Chapter 33: Our recommendations
‘To the living we owe respect
To the dead we owe only the truth’
This Report was made possible thanks to the support and advice
of many individuals and organisations. The team of lawyers who
conducted this enquiry would like to thank everyone who
contributed to this endeavour.
Special thanks go to those who have lost their eternal loved ones
in the Amicale arson but who had the courage to go through the
ordeal once again to help us in our quest for truth.
We are also especially grateful to those who have been working
within the different governmental services, such as the Police and
Fire Services who have jeopardized, hope not, their careers in
providing to us invaluable information and pointers.
We would also like to acknowledge all the lawyers who have
encouraged us throughout our enquiry.
A number of experts generously gave their time for the cause. We
are grateful to them.
We acknowledge the support of our dearest families that had to
bear with us, the burden of our tantrums, worries and absences.
We deeply acknowledge the moral support of the general public in
Mauritius and abroad which has boosted our morale.
The idea behind the enquiry conducted by myself and a group of
lawyers, on a pro-bono basis, was to shed the light on the arson
which occurred at L’Amicale de Port Louis, a game house, in
Mauritius, on the 23rd May 1999.
The objective of the report is to publish the findings of our enquiry
together with our conclusions and critics as regards to the manner in
which the Police enquiry was conducted.
A number of disturbing facts have also come to light in respect of the
Preliminary Enquiry and the Assizes. These will also be addressed in
The first step was to gather all the files containing court transcripts,
depositions and all other documents produced in court. Thereafter,
requests were made to the general public for those who had
information to come forward and share it with us.
We have also painstakingly attempted to get in touch with all the
persons who we thought could provide help to us including police
officers, retired police officers, members and ex members of the SSU,
the SMF and the firemen who attended L’Amicale de Port Louis on
that fateful night, bouncers and other employees of the game house,
people residing in the neighbourhood of L’Amicale de Port Louis
and many more individuals whom we believe could help us in our
quest for justice.
We have interviewed more than 115 persons, many of whom had
never been interviewed by the police regarding the events of the 23rd
Some of those persons, whilst voluntarily giving information to us,
have asked us not to reveal their identities. Others chose to remain
anonymous for now but have promised to come forward if there is a
Commission of Enquiry or other enquiry by the police.
Finally, some witnesses have not only agreed to impart information
to us but have also sworn affidavits to that effect, which are annexed
to this report.
We have also retained the services of experts including British
forensic experts to assist us in certain areas of our enquiry.
ON MONDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2000 – AFTER RECESS
Before Honourable P. Lam Shang Leen, Judge
Criminal Session:- State v. Sumodhee & Ors.
All accused present
Parties represented as above
COURT:- Well, let us have the jurors, please. Yes, Mr. Foreman, have you
reached a verdict?
MR. FOREMAN:- Yes, My Lord. After deliberations, we have found Accused
No. 1 guilty as charged by a majority of 8:1, Accused No. 2, guilty as charged
by a majority of 8:1, Accused No. 3, guilty as charged by a majority of 8:1 and
Accused No. 4, guilty as charged by a majority of 8:1. Thank you, My Lord.
COURT :- Thank you, Mr Foreman.
Inform the Accused that the Jury has found them guilty as charged.
MR INTERPRETER:- The have been informed accordingly, My Lord
COURT:- Accusés Nos. 1, 2, 3 et 4, bannes Jurés fine trouve zotte
coupables 8 contre 1, zotte ine tender. D’apres la loi, avant mo passe
sentence, zotte énan quitechose pou dire, ou bien pénan narien pou dire ?
ACCUSED NO. 1 :- Mo innocent dans ca case la
COURT: D’accord, ok.
ACCUSED NO. 2 :- Mo innocent Missié, mo maintenir mo innocence.
Mo donne avis d’appel.
COURT :- Oui. Laisse mo fini passe sentence, après ou va dire.
ACCUSED NO. 3 :- Mo innocent depuis lor la terre, depuis cotte Bon
Dieu aussi mo pou innocent
ACCUSED NO. 4 :- Mo ene innocent, malgré ca mo rode l’appel.
COURT :- OK. Bon d’apres la loi ene seul sentence qui enan: “penal
servitude for life for all of them”
1. This guilty verdict represents multiple failures at all levels of our Criminal Justice
2. A double injustice was caused:
Firstly, to those who had lost their lives on that fateful evening of the 23rd May
1999, to their respective families and close ones
Secondly, to the four convicts who have now spent more than 14 years behind
bars for a crime they did not commit.
3. At that time, the convictions appeased public pressure. Our justice system, had in the
mind of the average citizen, delivered justice and a dark page of the Country’s history
could be turned.
4. The assizes lasted for 11 days. Several witnesses deponed including defence witnesses.
5. It took the jury a little under two hours to deliberate and reach a verdict.
6. Prior to the Assizes case, the four accused faced a Preliminary Enquiry together with
five other persons. The preliminary enquiry spanned over a period of several months
during which 59 witnesses deponed.
7. At the Assizes:
Sheik Imran Sumodhee, hereinafter referred to as Mounou, then Accused No. 1,
Khaleeloudeen Sumodhee, hereinafter referred to as Bébé, then Accused No. 2,
Abdool Naseeb Keeramuth, hereinafter referred to as Zulu, then Accused No. 3,
Muhammad Shafiq Nawoor, hereinafter referred to as Fico, then Accused No. 4
Were accused to have on the 23rd May 1999 set fire to a game house known as
‘L’Amicale’, situated in the capital city of Port Louis, which fire caused the death of
8. The victims included a pregnant woman and two children who all died of an
unspeakable horror. The horrendous crime did, quite understandably, spark public
9. The police enquiry immediately focused on the fans of a local football team, the Scouts
Club and for cause, the 23rd May 1999 was also the final day of the local football
season whereby the Scouts Club, traditionally the standard-bearers of the Muslim
community, were playing against Fire Brigade, a football team, customarily drawing its
support from the Creole community in a match that would decide the Mauritian football
10. The match was being played at Anjalay Coopen Stadium, Belle Vue, in the north of the
11. Scouts Club needed a draw to retain the championship. Their opponent, Fire Brigade,
required victory to snatch the title.
through the second half, Scouts Club scored but the goal was disallowed. In
the 89th minute Fire Brigade scored, Scouts Club subsequently had another goal ruled
out and the former were proclaimed champion. Sensing injustice, the Scouts fans
rioted, assaulted the referee and destroyed some 345 seats, numerous washbasins,
toilets, windows and other facilities at the stadium.
More seriously, the incidents continued outside the stadium where some football fans,
turned hooligans, set fire to sugar cane fields around Anjalay stadium. The incidents
eventually spilled over in Port Louis.
The next morning, Mauritius woke up and learned about the tragedy whereby 7 people
had lost their lives during the incidents of the night before.
15. The four convicts have claimed their innocence from Day 1. Fourteen years
later, it is with the same vigour that they say, all they want is to die with their names
16. This report which is the result of an extensive enquiry conducted into the
horrific events of the 23rd May 1999 will shed the light on all aspects of the
Amicale Case in an unprecedented manner.
17. It will be demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the Amicale Case is a gross
Miscarriage of justice whereby the factually innocent ones have been
18. The end result of that gross miscarriage of justice derives from several root
19. Before going into the core of the report, it is useful at this juncture to
understand the terms ‘wrongful conviction’ and ‘miscarriage of justice’; and to see
how Countries, around the world, have recognised their existence and have
Part 1: Wrongful Conviction
Safety of conviction and Miscarriage of Justice
20. Unlike the natural sciences, where the proof of a theory must satisfy the strict tests of
falsification, the guilt or non guilt, in Criminal Law, is a tested to the standard of
‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
21. Sadly, the following quotation extracted from the House of Lords’ ruling in the case of
Director of Public Prosecutions v. Shannon  59 Cr.App.R.250 clearly illustrates
that the criminal justice system is fallible and innocent victims can be, and are, wrongly
‘The law in action is not concerned with absolute truth, but with
proof before a fallible human tribunal to a requisite standard of
probability in accordance with formal rules of evidence.’
22. The history of successful appeals against criminal conviction in this country and
worldwide highlights the practical limitations of criminal trials, showing that
‘probabilities’ are not certainties; and that there are a whole host of different ways that
people can be wrongly convicted.
23. As a matter of fact, people do get wrongfully convicted and after exhausting all their
avenues, they usually find themselves sitting powerlessly behind bars devoid of any
hope whatsoever. They just wait for their sentence to pass by as they gradually lose
their family ties, their loved ones and finally become institutionalised.
24. The question which begs to be answered is: What do we do about them?
25. The first sensible thing is to shoulder our responsibilities and acknowledge the
undisputed fact that system can go wrong sometimes.
26. In 2000, UK’s then Prime Minister Tony Blair apologized to the Guildford Four1
convicts for their wrongful conviction. In a letter personally signed by him, Mr. Blair
acknowledged the “miscarriage of justice” which they suffered as a result of their
27. Hon. Tony Blair said:
“I believe that it is an indictment of our system of justice and a matter for the greatest
regret when anyone suffers punishment as a result of a miscarriage of justice. There
were miscarriages of justice in your husband’s case, and the cases of those convicted
with him. I am very sorry indeed that this should have happened.”
28. Criminal law is informed by the principles of due process as to what constitutes a fair
trial. A major concern of the courts is with the integrity of that process, with what
might be called the ‘safety of convictions’.
29. It is in this context that a distinction should be made between the terms ‘miscarriage of
justice’ and ‘wrongful conviction’ of an innocent person.
30. Whilst ‘miscarriage of justice’ is a term that is frequently and notoriously invoked, very
little has been done by way of decisions clarifying the term.
31. A 'miscarriage' means literally a failure to reach an intended destination or goal. A
miscarriage of justice is therefore, mutatis mutandis, a failure to attain the desired
end result of 'justice'.
32. In a judgment delivered on the 11th May 2011 by the Supreme Court of the United
Kingdom, Britain’s most senior judges formulated a test in determining whether a
miscarriage of justice has occurred. The Court said that there would be a miscarriage of
‘when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a
defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it.’
See Chapter 6
33. According to Dr Michael Naughton (Reader in Sociology and Law at the University of
Bristol, UK), a miscarriage of justice occurs whenever a conviction is found to be
34. That is, while actual innocence may not be established, it is shown that the conviction
was attained on grounds that give serious cause for anxiety about its safety.
35. The term miscarriage of justice can therefore be contrasted with a case of ‘wrongful
conviction’ of an innocent person in which case an accused party is convicted a crime
they did not commit or put in another way, the conviction of the factually innocent.
36. It is possible of course, for the two notions to coexist in a single case: An accused party
being accused of a crime they did not commit and being found guilty on grounds that
are subsequently found to be unsafe.
37. This report demonstrates with certainty that the convictions of Mounou, Bébé, Zulu and
Fico at the Assizes caused the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of Mauritius.
38. It will also be demonstrated that their conviction is, without the shadow of a doubt, a
case of wrongful conviction.
Are we Immune to a Miscarriage of Justice?
39. With the total absence of any mechanism to recognise and deal with wrongful
convictions in this country, one could be forgiven to think that we are immune from
any form of miscarriage of justice.
40. In fact, our judicial system, unlike those of countries like Canada, India, Singapore,
Australia, United States of America or New Zealand, has never come under public
scrutiny for reasons of miscarriage of justice.
41. Does that mean we are immune? Has there been no wrongful conviction in the
42. It is fair to say that Anglo-based criminal justice systems, like the one we have in
Mauritius, are arguably less prone to wrongful convictions than any other justice
systems in the world.
43. This is because of the number of safeguards that exist, for example:
a. An accused person is presumed innocent throughout.
b. The prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
c. The Accused has the right to counsel and to present evidence.
d. Accused persons have the right to be tried by a jury of their peers, at least in the
most serious of cases.
e. A labyrinth of evidentiary rules exclude irrelevant or prejudicial information
f. The Constitution guarantees a significant number of rights to accused persons.
44. Furthermore, in the event of a conviction after trial, appeals may be made to a Court of
Appeal and ultimately to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
45. Despite these safeguards, other countries having a similar criminal justice system, like
the ones mentioned above, have come to terms with the fact that wrongful convictions
46. Acknowledging that the system, despite all the safeguards, sometimes fails, was a giant
step for these countries since the number of exonerations following wrongful
convictions are now counted in their thousands; and with the advent of the DNA testing
technology, countless wrongly convicted persons have been saved from several years of
imprisonment and in more serious cases, life imprisonment or even death penalties.2
47. In the United States, a national registry of exonerated persons was recently set up and it
has emerged than more than a staggering 2000 people were wrongly convicted of
crimes they did not commit and served a number of years in prison before being
48. In the United Kingdom convictions in cases like the Birmingham Six, the Guildford
Four or the Maguire Seven have been declared ‘unsafe and unsatisfactory’ and were
quashed after those wrongly convicted had each spent more than a dozen years in
prison for crimes they did not commit.
49. Public confidence in the criminal justice systems in these countries has been shaken
because wrongful convictions represented a triple failure of justice:
‘an innocent person has been convicted and imprisoned;
the truly guilty person was allowed to go free and, potentially, commit
further crimes; and finally,
the victim’s family, who had a sense of closure with the conviction, have
been re-victimised by opening an emotional wound, which, with an
increasingly cold evidentiary trail, may never be healed.’3
Several reviews have been conducted in Canada (The Marshall inquiry, The Sophonow Inquiry, The Morin
Inquiry) and in the United Kindom (Birmingham Six, Guildford Four).
Wrongful Convictions: The Effect of Tunnel Vision and Predisposing Circumstances in the Criminal Justice
System by Bruce A. Macfarlane Q.C
50. However the silver lining was that these countries, having come to terms that the
system failed and acknowledging the existence of wrongful convictions did the right
thing in finally offering justice to those wrongfully convicted persons.
51. In addition, Commissions were set up, not only to exonerate those who have been
wrongfully convicted, but also to examine what exactly went wrong in the system to try
and prevent such injustices from occurring again.
52. In fact, the impact of wrongful convictions in Canada has reached through to the
Supreme Court of Canada which in various judgments has noted:
‘that both substantive criminal law and the law of evidence must take into account the
reality of wrongful convictions when courts are called upon to shape (or reshape)
53. It would have been all too easy to deny any system failure, dismiss the claim and turn
the page, but that would mean that the countries would have failed to face up with their
responsibilities towards their citizens and would also leave the door open to more cases
of wrongful convictions.
54. The various commissions that have been set up in the above named countries all came
with their different recommendations on the root causes of miscarriages of justice and
wrongful convictions as well as recommendations on their prevention.
55. One issue which was common to all the countries and which has been identified as a
leading cause of miscarriage of justice and/or wrongful conviction, was the existence of
‘tunnel vision’ at the enquiry stage.
Supra – also U.S. v. Burns, (2001) 1 S.C.R. 283; R v. Trochym, 200 SCC 6; Hill v. Hamilton-Wentworth
Regional Police, 2007 SCC 41
A Tunnel vision
56. Tunnel vision, which has been identified as a leading cause of wrongful convictions
worldwide, has been defined as:
“the single minded and overly narrow focus on an investigation or prosecutorial
theory so as to unreasonably colour the evaluation of information received and one’s
conduct in response to the information”5
57. The role of the prosecuting authorities has received considerable judicial comment,
with frequent emphasis upon the inherent fairness that is integral to its role.
58. The following is a passage from the judgment of Boucher v. The Queen, where Rand J
‘It cannot be over-emphasized that the purpose of a criminal prosecution is not
to obtain a conviction, it is to lay before a jury what the Crown considers to be
credible evidence relevant to what is alleged to be a crime. Counsel have a
duty to see that all available legal proof of the facts is represented; it should be
done firmly and pressed to its legitimate strength but it must also be done
fairly. The role of the prosecutor excludes any notion of winning or losing; his
function is a matter of public duty than which in civil life there can be none
charged with greater personal responsibility. It is to be efficiently performed
with an ingrained sense of the dignity, the seriousness and the justness of
Morin Inquiry (Recommendation 74) and quoted in the FPT Heads of Prosecutions Committee report of the
working group on the prevention of miscarriages of Justice (Canada)
59. Within the context of tunnel vision, Prosecutors and State Counsels ought to
consistently strive to independently assess the police investigation and the evidence
against an accused.
60. In a report on the prevention of miscarriages of justice which is published on the
website of the Department of Justice of Canada (www.justice.gr.ca), the following
factors were identified as potential contributors to the State’s tunnel vision, that is,
impairing the proper role of the State Counsel:
a. Close identification with police and / or victim
b. Pressure by the media and/or special interest groups ; and
c. Isolation from other perspectives
61. There have been three Commissions of Inquiry into wrongful convictions in Canada so
far and all three have commented on the perils of tunnel vision and have made
recommendations for police and Crown education on the topic.
I.The Royal Commission into the Donald Marshall, Jr.,
The Marshall Inquiry emphasised the need for a separation between
police and Crown functions:
‘We recognize that cooperative and effective consultation between
the police and the Crown is also essential to the proper administration
of justice. But under our system, the policing function – that of
investigation and law enforcement – is distinct from the prosecuting
function. We believe the maintenance of a distinct line between these
two functions is essential to the proper administration of justice.’
It must be noted that our Mauritian legal system is very similar to the
Canadian legal system in that both have their foundations in the
British common law system
II.The Inquiry regarding Thomas Sophonow
The Sophonow Inquiry recommended regular, mandatory training for
police officers on tunnel vision:
- Tunnel vision is insidious. It can affect an officer or, indeed, anyone
involved in the administration of justice with sometimes tragic results. It
results in the officer becoming so focussed upon an individual or incident
that no other person or incident registers in the officer’s thoughts. Thus,
tunnel vision can result in the elimination of other suspects who should
be investigated. Equally, events that could lead to other suspects are
eliminated from the officer’s thinking. Anyone, police officer, counsel, or
judge can become infected by this virus.
- I recommend that attendance annually at a lecture or a course on this
subject be mandatory for all officers. The lecture or course should be
updated annually and an officer should be required to attend before or
during the first year that the officer works as a detective.
- Courses or lectures that illustrate with examples and discuss this
problem should be compulsory for police officers and they would
undoubtedly be helpful for counsel and judges as well.
III. The Commission on Proceedings involving Guy Paul Morin
The Morin Inquiry extended the above recommendations to include
Recommendation 74 – Education respecting tunnel vision
One component of educational programming for police and Crown
counsel should be the identification and avoidance of tunnel vision. In
this context, tunnel vision means the single minded and overly narrow
focus on a particular investigative or prosecutorial theory, so as to
unreasonably colour the evaluation of information received and one’s
conduct in response to that information.
Recommendation 92 – Structure of police investigation
Investigating officers should not attain an elevated standing in an
investigation through acquiring or pursuing the “best” suspect or lead.
This promotes competition between investigative teams for the best lead,
results in tunnel vision and isolates teams of officers from each other.
62. Unfortunately Mauritius is not immune from tunnel vision and as things stand there are
no practices currently in place to prevent tunnel vision.
63. Unless the various stakeholders, including defence counsel, are not warned and guided
there are bound to be cases where innocents will unfortunately be jailed while the real
culprits let on the loose.
Recommendations on Tunnel Vision:
The MacFarlane Paper
64. In a paper entitled ‘Wrongful Convictions: The Effect of Tunnel Vision and
Predisposing Circumstances in the Criminal Justice System’, Bruce A. MacFarlane Q.C
discussed two critical factors that have arisen in the cases of wrongful convictions in
jurisdictions such as Canada, the United States and other Commonwealth counties.
65. He stated that despite the diversity in the legal, political and social environments of
these jurisdictions ‘the similarity in causal patterns and trends is at the same time both
chilling and disconcerting.’
66. Firstly, he analysed the existence of environmental factors or “predisposing
circumstances” that foster wrongful convictions to occur in the first place, including so
called “noble cause corruption”, an ends-based police and prosecutorial culture that
masks misconduct as legitimate on the basis that the guilty must be brought
successfully to justice.
67. Secondly, he examined “tunnel vision” which he said leads to justice system
participants to focus prematurely on a single suspect.
68. Of the “Predisposing Circumstances” in the Criminal Justice System, MacFarlane Q.C
‘Criminal investigations and trials take place in the context of the social,
political and economic conditions of the time. In theory, criminal
investigations and trials involve an objective pursuit of the truth, but in
practice there are many subjective factors that influence the course of
events. “Justice” may be blind, but in reality the various players making
up the justice system are very human and they bring their own
perspective, experiences, biases, aspirations and fears to the decisions
69. Scholars have focussed on reforms concerning “immediate” causes at the front end of
the system – such as eyewitness identification, lack of Crown disclosure, police or
prosecutorial misconduct and the inducement of false confessions.
70. These causes have singly or in combination been the cases of wrongful convictions in a
significant number of cases throughout the Commonwealth.
71. The MacFarlane paper instead focuses on several much more fundamental – and less
visible – environmental or “predisposing circumstances” that foster wrongful
‘These predisposing circumstances are often below the criminal justice
system’s radar screen, and for that reason they are much more difficult to
deal with. Typically, they can be found within one or more of the
following institutional or social contexts, or a combination of them:
public and media pressure on law enforcement agencies to solve a crime
and successfully prosecute the perpetrator, especially in cases of horrific
violence where the public has been outraged by its commission;
cases where the public reacts to the background or circumstances
surrounding the alleged offender, especially when he or she is perceived
as being an “outsider” or a person originating from an unpopular,
disadvantaged or minority group linked to criminal activity generally;
so-called “noble case corruption”, which for our purposes may be
described as an ends based culture that encourages investigators to blind
themselves to their own inappropriate conduct, and to perceive that
conduct as legitimate in the belief that they are pursing an important
public interest; and
an investigative environment that allows if not encourages the provision
and acceptance of pre-analysis and pre-decision-making information that
may be irrelevant, speculative, incomplete, out of context or simply
There are at least two principal themes that underlie these
predisposing circumstances. The first concerns the reaction of the public
to a case, particularly where it involves horrific violence directed toward
a child or woman, or the death of a child in tragic circumstances. The
second involves the reaction of justice system participants to public and
media perceptions of the case, with resulting feelings of pressure to solve
the case and provide assurances of public safety, and with speed
becoming the overarching objective.’
72. Bruce A. MacFarlane Q.C. noted that public outrage in high profile cases can translate
into intense pressure on the police to arrest and on prosecutors to convict with speed
becoming the overriding factor:
‘High-profile criminal cases, particularly those involving gruesome facts,
tend to inflame community passions and create intense, almost hydraulic,
pressure on investigators to solve what happened and arrest those
responsible, and on prosecuting authorities to successfully convict those
charged. Public and media pressure probably forms the most intense
predisposing circumstance, and poses the greatest risk for distorting
normal decision making in the criminal justice system.’
73. In a 1932 United States study on wrongful convictions entitled ‘Convicting the
Innocent’, Professor Edwin Borchard of Yale University described several
environmental factors that allowed wrongful convictions to occur.
74. The first involved public pressure to solve horrific crimes:
‘(I)t is common knowledge that the prosecuting technique in the United
States is to regard a conviction as a personal victory calculated to
enhance the prestige of the prosecutor. Except in the very few cases
where evidence is consciously suppressed or manufactured, bad faith is
not necessarily attributable to the police or prosecution; it is the
environment in which they live, with an undiscriminating public clamor
for them to stamp out crime and make short shrift of suspects, which
often serves to induce them to pin a crime upon a person accused.’
‘Public opinion is often much to blame as the prosecutor or other
circumstances for miscarriages of justice. Criminal trials take place
under conditions with respect to which public interest and passions are
easily aroused. In 14 of the cases in this collection in which the frightful
mistake committed might have been avoidable, public opinion was
excited by the crime and moved by revenge to demand its sacrifice, a
demand to which prosecutors and juries are not impervious. This can by
no means be deemed an argument for the abolition of the jury, for judges
alone might be equally susceptible to community opinion. But it is a fact
not to be overlooked.’
75. He explained how this can contribute to tunnel vision:
‘Tunnel vision sometimes sets in. The investigative team focuses
prematurely, resulting in the arrest and prosecution of a suspect against
whom there is some evidence, while other leads and potential lines of
investigation go unexplored. It is now clear that that is precisely what
occurred in the cases of Morin and Sophonow.’
THE BIRMINGHAM SIX
76. The Birmingham Six case provides an illustration of how tunnel vision inevitably led to
a miscarriage of justice:
The pressure caused by public opinion, media and political
commentaries to charge swiftly and then secure a conviction, arises in
During the 1970s bombing campaign waged by the Irish Republican
Army (IRA) in the United Kingdom, the public saw the IRA as a “public
enemy number one”, and anyone of Irish descent was a potential
The resulting public pressure generated an atmosphere in which state’s
authorities sought to convict despite the existence of ambiguous or
It also caused scientists working in government operated laboratories
to feel aligned with the prosecution, resulting in a perception that their
function was to support the theory of the police rather than to provide
an impartial, scientifically based analysis.
They had, as was later found by the courts, become partisan.
Six Irish Catholic men, usually referred to as the ‘Birmingham Six’, were
charged with 21 counts of murder, convicted by a jury, and spent 16
years in jail before being freed by the Court of Appeal in 1991
The Court concluded that several of the police investigators “were at
least guilty of deceiving the court”
It is now clear that distortion in normal investigative and prosecutorial
decision making processes in the cases of the Guildford Four,
Birmingham Six, Maguire Seven and Judith Ward led to terrible and
notorious miscarriages of justice. While all of the defendants were
ultimately released from jail, and, in the case of the Guildford Four and
Maguire Seven, the Prime Minister issued a formal apology, emotional
scarring was deep for all of them.
77. MacFarlane emphasised that raising awareness of the existence of tunnel vision is
essential. He recommended that seminars for police and prosecutors should be
held, allowing frank discussion of tunnel vision and stated that police should
continue to pursue all reasonable lines of enquiry even where a viable suspect has
Victims of Miscarriage of Justice
78. Having come to terms with the fact that miscarriages of justice and wrongful
convictions do occur and that this country just like any other is prone to the danger of
convicting innocent persons, we have seen what should be done in order to reduce those
79. But how about those who have already been wrongfully convicted and are powerlessly
behind bars serving a sentence for crimes they did not commit? What should be done?
Are there any remedies available to them?
Prerogative of Mercy
80. The prerogative of mercy is regarded as the only means to remedy an injustice. It is
most often used to ameliorate the harshness of sentences imposed by our courts of law.
81. Before looking at the operation of prerogative of mercy in this country, it is helpful to
look at the situation in England, for after all, this is where we inherited this concept
82. For centuries in England, the royal prerogative of mercy was the sole means to remedy
an injustice. It was most often used to ameliorate the harshness of sentences imposed by
83. Later, through the early 19th century, when there were over 200 offences carrying the
death penalty in the statute books, it provided a means of affording clemency to those
convicted of relatively minor capital offences.
84. However, it was not just an exercise of mercy: It also operated to temper the
inadequacies of substantive law before the development of common law or statutory
defences, such as insanity and self-defence.
85. Finally, it also came to provide a safety net when judicial appeals had been exhausted.
86. In a sense therefore, the coming to existence of the prerogative of mercy was an
acknowledgment of the fallibility of the judicial process; that the rules of evidence did
not always lead to the correct outcome so far as guilt or innocence was concerned.
87. In Queen Victoria’s time, the responsibility for determining petitions for the exercise of
the prerogative passed from the Sovereign to the Home Secretary.
88. The responsibility was also delegated to the governors of colonies and, later, to the
governors-general of the dominions.
89. In Mauritius, the exercise of the prerogative of mercy is grounded in our constitution.
Section 75 provides as follows:
75. Prerogative of mercy
(1)The President may –
(a) grant to any person convicted of any offence a pardon, either free or subjectto
(b) grant to any person a respite, either indefinite or for a specified period, of
the execution of any punishment imposed on that person for any offence;
(c) substitute a less severe form of punishment for any punishment imposed on
any person for any offence; or
(d) remit the whole or part of any punishment imposed on any person for an
offence or of any penalty or forfeiture otherwise due to the State on account
of any offence.
(2) There shall be a Commission on the Prerogative of Mercy (referred to in this
section as "the Commission") consisting of a chairman and not less that 2 other
members appointed by the President, acting in his own deliberate judgment.
(3) A member of the Commission shall vacate his seat on the Commission(a) at the expiration of any term of appointment specified in the instrument of his
(b) where his appointment is revoked by the President, acting in his own
(4)(a)In the exercise of the powers conferred upon him by subsection (1), the President
shall act in accordance with the advice of the Commission.
(b) The President may request the Commission to reconsider any advice tendered by it
and shall act in accordance with such advice as may be tendered by the Commission
after such reconsideration.
(5) The validity of the transaction of business by the Commission shall not be affected
by the fact that some person who was not entitled to do so took part in the proceedings.
(6) Where any person has been sentenced to death (otherwise than by a court martial)
for an offence, a report on the case by the judge who presided at the trial (or, where
2003&dt=Aa report cannot be obtained from that judge, a report on the case by the
Chief Justice), together with such other information derived from the record of the
case or elsewhere as may be required by or furnished to the Commission shall be taken
into consideration at a meeting of the Commission which shall then advise the
President whether or not to exercise his powers under subsection (1) in that case.
(7) This section shall not apply in relation to any conviction by a court established under
the law of a country other than Mauritius that has jurisdiction in Mauritius in pursuance
of arrangements made between the Government of Mauritius and another government or
an international organisation relating to the presence in Mauritius of members of the
armed forces of that other country or in relation to any punishment imposed in respect of
any such conviction or any penalty or forfeiture resulting from any such conviction
90. It needs to be pointed out that additionally, akin to the powers of the Home Secretary in
the United Kingdom, the President has the power, under Section 21 of the Criminal
Appeal Act 1955 to refer a case back to the Supreme Court to be heard and determined
by the Court as in the case of an appeal by a person convicted.
91. The fact that section 21 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1955 has never been put into
operation goes a long way to tell the story of the wrongfully convicted in Mauritius.
92. There remains the Prerogative of Mercy. Is this though a viable option for those who
claim having been victims of wrongful convictions? For after all, it does not innocent
the prisoners, it merely mercies them.
93. In England, amid claims of miscarriages of justice and wrongful convictions, concerns
grew over the effectiveness of the available options as a remedy to cure such travesties.
94. That factor coupled with the growing awareness of the constitutional tension inherent in
the pardoning process led to a re-evaluation of the way in which the prerogative of
mercy was being exercised.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission
95. On 14th March 1991 Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter,
Billy Power and Johnny Walker with Chris Mullin MP stood outside the Old Bailey
free after 16 years having had their convictions overturned for the murder of 21 people
in two pubs in Birmingham.
96. It was that scandalous miscarriage of justice that ultimately shook public confidence in
the justice system.
97. As an immediate response, a Royal Commission on Criminal Justice (RCCJ) was set
‘to examine the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in England and Wales in
securing the conviction of those guilty of criminal offences and the acquittal of those
who are innocent(…)’.
98. It was also, among other terms of reference, required to consider whether changes were
needed in ‘the conduct of police investigations.
99. The Royal Commission reported to Parliament in July 1993 and recommended the
establishment of an independent body to consider suspected miscarriages of justice:
The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
100. In particular, the RCCJ concluded that successive Home Secretaries under the
system for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice were not proactive in weeding
them out and were even failing to refer potential miscarriages of justice back to the
Court of Appeal for political as opposed to legal reasons.
101. In brief, the CCRC’s role is to receive, investigate and assess applications received
where there has been a possible miscarriage of justice.
102. It is empowered to refer the case to the Court of Appeal where the Commission is
satisfied that there is a real possibility the conviction would be quashed if the case
were referred to the Court and that possibility arises due to evidence or argument not
being raised in the earlier proceedings.
103. The CCRC has, as at 31st December 2012, referred 512 cases to the Court of Appeal of
which 328 have been quashed.
104. The achievement is quite remarkable, considering that those 328 victims of
miscarriages of justice or wrongfully convicted persons had prior to their applications
to the CCRC exhausted all their appeal avenues but were still considered guilty.
Case Statistics - Figures to 31 December 2012
Cases under review:
14770 (including ineligible) 512 referrals
Heard by Court of Appeal: 466 (328 quashed, 138 upheld, 0 reserved)
*Total applications includes 279 cases transferred from the Home Office when the
Commission was set up in 1997.
105. The CCRC was viewed with a great deal of interest from other jurisdictions that see
it as a possible extension to their own criminal justice system to solve their
miscarriage of justice / wrongful conviction problem.
106. For instance, the CCRC spawned the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
(SCCRC), which started its work in April 1999 and the Norwegian Criminal Cases
Review Commission (NCCRC), which came into force on 1st January 2004.
107. We believe that the creation of such a body is a necessity in our Mauritian legal
system for it will greatly enhance public confidence in the criminal justice system, it
will give hope and bring justice to those wrongly convicted and will be able to
contribute to reform and bring improvements in the law.
108. This is why a criminal cases review body ought to be established. The British and
Scottish model is a good one. Staffed by experienced lawyers, forensic and police
experts, cases are reviewed to see if there are grounds for arguing a wrongful
conviction. If the case meets the required threshold, it is sent back to the court for an
assessment to be made about guilt; and in some cases, the length of sentence if it is
found that a person committed a crime but a less serious one.
Miscarriage of justice around the world
109. Various commissions of enquiries, inquests and governments around the world have
acknowledged the fact that Courts of Law have, on many occasions, wrongfully
convicted (and sometimes executed) innocent people.
110. Governments, of course, are not too keen on wrongful conviction inquiries and there
are many prisoners in this nation who are serving sentences for crimes they did not
commit. Wrongful conviction inquiries can reveal police or prosecutorial misconduct,
or poor forensic practices. Governments are morally compelled to compensate
victims of wrongful convictions. In summary, relying on the political process to grant
a person their right to have new evidence tested is unfair because the urge to resist the
establishment of such inquiries outweighs the imperative to ensure justice is done.
111. However, Governments, and particularly the Attorney-General as first law officer,
ought to be taking the lead on ensuring that justice is done and that if there are real
doubts about a person's conviction for a serious criminal offence that has resulted in
his loss of liberty for a lengthy period, move to establish an inquiry immediately.
112. The following aims to bring to the attention of the reader the situation in various
113. Around the world people are tried everyday, before various courts of law. Evidence
is gathered, witnesses are summoned, lawyers use all their available tools provided
under the law to fight for the cause of justice and the court of law has the final say
when it comes to serving justice. Despite all the legal mechanisms present, one can
yet be wrongly convicted.
114. As shocking and distressful as it may be, courts of law, around the world, have on
many occasions found that they have wrongfully convicted, despite the presence of
expert evidence and the jury’s verdict. Whilst exoneration remains a cure to a
wrongful conviction, those who have been wrongfully convicted have a very slim
chance of being exonerated.
115. Unfortunately, most of the times our criminal legal systems do not contemplate
beyond evidence adduced at trial and appeal; they do not question potential failures
occurring throughout an enquiry and the possibility that a jury could have been
misled about the truth.
A FEW EXAMPLES:
In 1984, Richard Doney was wrongly convicted for the offence of
importation of cannabis resin. The Prosecution’s case rested heavily on
the testimony of an alleged accomplice and an expert witness confirming
the handwriting of Richard Doney. He was sentenced to a term of 20
years imprisonment. Subsequently the Court found that the testimony of
the alleged accomplice was unreliable and that an eyewitness gave
evidence contrary to the expert witness. Following two trials and three
appeals he was released on parole in 1995 after having served over six
and a half years in jail. In 2001 he was acquitted when the NSW Court of
Criminal Appeal ruled unanimously that new evidence had established
reasonable doubt and that a miscarriage of justice had occurred.
116. In Australia, a pro-bono project run by Griffith University brings together lawyers,
academics and law students to work together to free innocent persons who have been
wrongly convicted. Students work under the guidance of academics and instruction of
lawyers. This group actively works on wrongful conviction and other types of
injustice within the criminal justice system.
In 1994, Damien Echols was sentenced to death, Jessie Misskelley, Jr.
was sentenced to life imprisonment plus two 20-year sentences, and
Jason Baldwin was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found
guilty by a jury for the murder of 3 eight year old boys. Poor Police
inquiry, inadequate forensic evidence, coerced confessions, jury
misconduct and fabricated evidence led to their conviction. In 2011, 17
years later, crucial new DNA evidence of their innocence has been
uncovered including crime scene DNA that absolves the three young men
and points to others. Some of the country's leading pathologists found
that much of the forensic evidence presented to the jury, which helped to
convict the young men, was false and not consistent with the cause of
death nor wounds found on the bodies. In 2011, the prosecutors and the
defense talked and an agreement was reached for the three convicts to
proclaim their innocence even if they pleaded guilty, and, minutes later,
walked out as free men.
In 1984, Darryl Hunt was charged with murder due to inconsistencies
occurring during the early phases of the case. The 19-year-old Hunt was
charged with the rape of a local copy editor, Deborah Sykes. No physical
evidence linked Hunt to the crime, but there were claims, later proven to
be false. He was convicted by an all-white jury,and sentenced to life
imprisonment. In 1994, DNA testing cleared Hunt of any sexual assault,
and because sexual assault was at the heart of the murder case, the
murder charges were then in question. In December 2003, Willard E.
Brown confessed to the 1984 rape and stabbing death of Deborah Sykes
after DNA testing linked him to the crime. His confession led to the
release of Darryl Hunt, who had served about 19 years of a life sentence
for a crime he always denied committing.
117. In the USA, the Innocence Project was set up as a nonprofit legal clinic dedicated to
exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the
criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. The Innocence Project has freed
260 people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. The project also operates in
the UK and is known as the Innocence Network UK (INUK) which deals with
alleged victims of wrongful conviction. INUK has to date actively assisted in setting
up 34 innocence projects in Universities in England, Scotland and Wales and in a
corporate law firm.
In 1959, Steven Murray Truscott, was sentenced to death in for the
murder of 12 year old Lynne Harper. He was only 14 at the time. His
death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, Truscott was
scheduled to be hanged on 8th December 1959; however, a temporary
reprieve on 20th December 1959 postponed his execution to 16th February
1960 to allow for an appeal. On January 22nd January 1960, his death
sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In 2001, Truscott sought a
review of his 1959 murder conviction. Hearings in a review of the
Truscott case were heard at the Ontario Court of Appeal. In 2007, after
review of new expert pathology and gastroenterology evidence, as well as
archival documents that relate to the credibility and reliability of the
evidence of the doctor who performed the autopsy on the body of Lynne
Harper, the court concluded that this material, which was not considered
at trial , qualified as fresh evidence which significantly undermined the
medical evidence relied on by the prosecution in the prior proceedings.
The court declared that Truscott's conviction had been a miscarriage of
justice and as such, acquitted Truscott of the murder. On 7th July 2008,
the government of Ontario awarded him $6.5 million in compensation.
118. In Canada, principally as a result of a consultation paper published by the Department
of Justice in 1998, the Canadian Criminal Code was amended to allow for the
Minister of Justice to delegate to a person of suitable standing the powers of a
Commission under Canada’s Inquiries Act. The Commissioner has all the usual
robust investigative powers of a commission of inquiry and reports to the Minister.
In 1995, David Cullen Bain was convicted of the murders of his parents
and sibling and was served with a life imprisonment sentence. In 2007,
following new evidence found, Bain was successful in his appeal to the
Privy Council. His conviction was quashed and retrial was ordered. In
2009, 14 years later, Bain was retried and was acquitted on all five
charges in June 2009 after five hours and 50 minutes of deliberations.
In 1974 Judith Ward was convicted of murder of several people caused
by a number of IRA bombings in 1973. Judith Ward spent 18 years in
jail before her conviction was quashed in 1992.Her lawyers argued the
trial jury should have been told of her history of mental illness. The
Court of Appeal concluded that Ward's conviction had been "secured by
ambush". They said government forensic scientists had withheld
information that could have changed the course of Ms Ward's trial. She
was finally released in 1992 having served 18 years in prison.
The Birmingham Six’ were six men who were jailed for life in August
1975 after 21 people were killed by bombs in two Birmingham pubs. In
1991 their appeal was allowed in the light of new evidence of police
fabrication and suppression of evidence which successfully dismantled
both the confessions and the 1975 forensic evidence. Their conviction
was quashed by the Court of Appeal. In 2001, a decade after their
release, the six men were awarded compensation ranging from £840,000
to £1.2 million.
Part 2: Criminal (In)Justice System
Chapter 7: The Police Enquiry
1. This chapter of the report aims to assess the manner in which the police
enquiry was conducted in the Amicale case.
2. However, before looking at that aspect, it is helpful to understand the
morale of the police force at the time and the way in which operations
were being carried out.
Morale within the police force
3. Following the riots of February 1999, members of the Police force were
left feeling dejected. No prompt decisions or measures were taken and
improvement within the police force was not encouraged.
4. The then Commissioner of Police was suspended and there was even a
motion before the National Assembly to destitute him as Commissioner of
Police with some support within the rank and file of the police force. That,
in itself, caused a certain disruption within the police.
5. Messrs. Shattock and Nandy, two non Mauritian citizens, who were
appointed as advisors, were involved in all operational and security
arrangements despite the fact that they were only advisors with no good
knowledge of crowd disorders and the psyche of Mauritians in cases of
riots and disorders. They had no local knowledge and were not fully
aware of the history and peculiarities of certain areas.
6. The amalgam between operational work and advisory work were made
more conspicuous by routine and frequent interventions by the above-‐
named advisors on the day to day running of the police force.
7. The morale of the police force was not in any way helped by the presence
of Messieurs Shattock and Nandy who were perceived as being the real
bosses of the police force. They were interfering, or at least perceived to
be interfering, on a daily basis, in the routine affairs of the police.
8. In 1999, after the Amicale arson, in a heated exchange on the “duo” at the
National Assembly, Honourable Paul Berenger even said “that the sooner
these two gentlemen are thanked for their services the better”.
9. Another aspect which needs to be analysed before looking at the police
‘enquiry’ itself is the whole organisational operation prior to the football
10. On the 18th May 1999, Police issued a press communiqué in relation to the
football match of the 23rd May where the supporters of each respective
clubs were informed of the routes which were to be used by them to and
from the stadium.
11. There were also two separate parking lots allocated for each set of
supporters and the parking lots were under close CCTV monitoring.
12. Even the roads leading to the stadium were being monitored by CCTV.
13. The total number of tickets sold were 7, 465. The Fire Brigade and the
Scouts Club were each given a quota of 4000 tickets but an additional 300
tickets were allocated to the Scouts Club at their request.
14. The Mauritius Football Association (MFA) also issued VIP and
complimentary cards totalling around 300.
15. Because of the sensitive nature of the match itself coupled with the fact
that there were reports from the National Intelligence Unit warning of
potential disorders on the 23rd May 1999, the following units and officers
were present at the stadium:
i. Around 120 regular police officers
ii. 198 officers from the Special Supporting Unit (SSU)
iii. 59 officers from the Traffic Branch
iv. 9 officers from the Central Crime and Investigation
v. 3 police photographers
vi. 5 officers from the National Intelligence Service (NIU)
vii. 1 whole company of the Special Mobile Force (SMF)
viii. 1 whole unit of the Groupement d’Intervention de
Police Mauricienne (GIPM)
16. Ninety eight officers of the SSU and sixty officers of the SMF were
stationed at the Line Barracks.
17. There was also, in the stadium, a control room with televisions linked to
38 cameras inside the stadium and 8 cameras outside the stadium.
18. All the police stations throughout the island were on alert but a disturbing
fact which has come to light is that the following key police stations were
Abercrombie Police Station
Trou Fanfaron Police Station
Plaine Verte Police Station
Vallee Pitot Police Station
Pope Henessy Police Station
Government House Police Post
Line Barracks Police Station
19. Despite the fact that there is a history of incidents at the Police Stations of
Vallee Pitot and Plaine Verte, no SMF or SSU nor additional staff were
posted to these stations.
20. The Information Room then under the supervision of SP Ramen was also
poorly staffed and the NIU desk at the Line Barracks was not fully
21. Despite the NIU reports, there were no dissuasive patrols by the SMF or
the SSU on the 23rd May 1999 either before or after the after the match.
22. Prior to the match and despite the findings of the Ahnee Commission
(following the Zamalek vs Sunrise FC match 24th March 1996) no
meetings were organised between the force-‐vives of the localities and the
police to encourage dialogue.
23. It is apposite at this stage to quote an extract of the ‘Findings of the
Commission of Inquiry’ chaired by L Robert Ahnee:
REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF INQUIRY APPOINTED TO
INQUIRE INTO THE DISTURBANCES AT ANJALAY STADIUM
AND PLAINE VERTE ON 24 AND 25 MARCH, 1996
On the 17 April, 1996 the President of the Republic appointed
me as Chairman of a Commission of Inquiry to inquire :-
(a) into the disturbances that occurred before, during and after
the football match between Zamalek of Egypt and Sunrise
Flacq United at Anjalay Stadium on Sunday 24 March, 1996;
(b) into the riots and disturbances that took place in Plaine Verte
on 24 and 25 March, 1996
(c) in particular, into what extent those responsible for the said
disturbances and riots at Anjalay Stadium and at Plaine Verte
were organised; and
(d) into the causes and circumstances of the disturbances and
and to report thereon and to make recommendations as
On the 24 March, 1996 at the Anjalay Stadium, Belle Vue, the
local football team Sunrise Flacq United, champion team of
Mauritius, had to play a decisive match against Zamalek, one
of the best football teams of the African continent, in the
context of the “Coupe d’Afrique des Clubs Champions”
The hearing of the witnesses started on the 14 May, 1996. 118
persons were heard, the last one on 10 October, 1996, at the
27th sitting of the Commission
Extract from para 2.2: ‘They were from all the branches of the
Police, namely 163 officers and men from the regular force, one
full Unit and three sections from the S.S.U., about 25 men of the
Special Mobile Force (S.M. F) and a dozen from the N.I.U. The
organisation even provided for photographers as well as
two officers whose role was to film on video cassettes
whatever could be of importance to the Police. These two
artists, however, returned bredouilles as they considered that
nothing worth filming had occurred in the spots of the Stadium
where they were posted’
‘Nor is there enough evidence to allow the Commission to
conclude that there was any pre-concerted plan to foment
disturbances and encourage people to riot in Plaine Verte area
on the 24 March. The evidence, on the other hand, shows that
experience has taught the Police to be always on their guard in
the region whenever the Scouts Club is called upon to play a
football match anywhere in Mauritius. For reasons alluded to
earlier, that football team has, particularly within Plaine Verte,
a group of supporters or fans whose reactions are not always
prompted by their enthusiasm for football and whose
“chauvinism” and hooligan-like manners are often a source of
embarrassment for the said Club. ’
‘6.6 Statistics prove that the fans of the Scouts Club have,
in one way or another, been at the source of most of the
disturbances connected with First Division football
matches. The M.F.A has, on numerous occasions, even been
compelled to take against the Scouts Club sanctions which
have penalised it for the bad conduct of its so-called
supporters. There is even evidence that some time ago
when the M.F.A met at the seat of the Association, at
Chancery House in Port Louis, to consider disciplinary
action against a player of the Scouts Club, a small crowd of
persons believed to be supporters of the said club
assembled in the vicinity of Chancery House in what was
perceived as an attempt at intimidation.’
‘6.8 It was therefore not difficult for a few excited and
possibly organised hooligans coming back from Anjalay
Stadium to succeed, in a few minutes, to arouse the
passions of part of the inhabitants of the area by spreading
the false news that the Police had not only mishandled Moslem
spectators but that they had killed two young men, one of
whom was even said to be the son of the apparently popular
mufti of a nearby Mosque!
In less than no time the rumour gathered momentum and
hundreds of determined Moslems were soon in front of the two
Police Stations to shout their anger and cry for revenge for
‘7.8 Mr Ramboccus was not the only person to express the view
that unless the Authorities soon decide to do something to
incite, by persuasive means, the creation of regional or other
teams which would attract l’elite d’ou qu’elle vienne and drive
our present Clubs carrying with them their “communal” past to
disappear from our scene, the “communal hooliganism”
already present in our Stadia may become even stronger
to explode one of these days, with the possibility of serious
consequences for the whole country.’
Police inaction after the match
24. Despite Plaine Verte Police Station, the NIU and the Information Room
being aware of the fact that there was an angry crowd marching riotously
towards the offices of the Mauritius Football Association (MFA), no SSU
nor SMF Units were sent to Chancery House, where the offices of the MFA
It would have taken under three minutes for the SMF or the
SSU get to Chancery House from the Line Barracks.
The phone calls
25. On the 23rd May 1999, prior to the match, the fire services of Port Louis
received not less than 18 phone calls which were proved to be false alerts.
Nonetheless, the fire services had to react and send their limited
resources to attend.
26. After the match, even more calls were made to the hotlines of the
Government Fire Services so much so that the service which was
equipped with no less than six hot lines (No. 995) was inundated as a