ISIS tri­al­ists’ es­cape plot claim

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO NEWS - Or­rin Singh

LEG irons, hand­cuffs and a bol­stered, heav­ily-armed po­lice pres­ence marked the court ap­pear­ance of three al­leged ISIS loy­al­ists. Say­fudeen As­lam Del Vec­chio (38), his wife Fa­tima Pa­tel (27) and Ah­mad Jack­son ‘Ba­zooka’ Mussa (36) all shuf­fled into the dock in leg irons and hand­cuffs be­fore Mag­is­trate Ir­faan Khalil at the Veru­lam Fam­ily Court on Fri­day morn­ing. The court heard how the three, who have been charged with the kidnapping and mur­der of Bri­tish­born Cape Town botanists Rod (74) and Rachel (63) Saun­ders, had been plan­ning to es­cape some time dur­ing their forth­com­ing court ap­pear­ances. Ad­vo­cate Adele Barnard said the state had re­ceived a re­quest from the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, Anuresh AJ Lutch­man, that the ac­cused ap­pear in court with leg irons and that only their hand­cuffs be re­moved. ‘The in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer re­ceived in­for­ma­tion from a cred­i­ble source that the ac­cused were plan­ning to es­cape from prison and/or court; that they may dis­arm a po­lice of­fi­cer in court and use his firearm to es­cape,’ said Barnard. Act­ing on be­half of the ac­cused, Mondli Mthethwa, said his clients were in­no­cent un­til proven guilty and their bonds would in­fringe on their right to a fair trial. ‘We re­spect­fully ask that these ac­cused don’t ap­pear in court in such man­ner; they can be searched be­fore en­ter­ing court, these are the in­struc­tions I have re­ceived from my clients,’ Mthethwa said. Mag­is­trate Khalil agreed with Mthethwa and em­pha­sized that hu­man dig­nity is of paramount im­por­tance. ‘Prison au­thor­i­ties and po­lice could en­force other mea­sures to en­sure the safety of its mem­bers as well as per­son­nel of the court if they felt there was a le­git­i­mate risk of es­cape,’ said Khalil. Af­ter a short ad­journ­ment, in which the shack­les and hand­cuffs were re­moved, much to the de­light of Del Vec­chio, who smirked in con­ver­sa­tion with Mussa, the court heard of how the three had been sub­jected to iso­la­tion in prison. Del Vec­chio was moved from the Westville Prison to the Ebong­weni ‘C-Max’ max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison in Kok­stad in March af­ter prison of­fi­cials claimed they had un­cov­ered a plot which would jeop­ar­dise the fa­cil­ity. He has been kept in iso­la­tion for four months while Pa­tel and Mussa re­main at the Westville Prison and are also be­lieved to be in iso­la­tion. The state pro­posed a post­poned date of 12 De­cem­ber to al­low for in­ves­ti­ga­tion, much to the an­noy­ance of Mthethwa who ar­gued that his clients, es­pe­cially Del Vec­chio, had been sub­jected to harsh treat­ment, and had been al­ready been de­tained in cus­tody for six months. Barnard in­formed the court of the sen­si­tiv­ity and com­plex na­ture of in­ves­ti­ga­tions at this stage. ‘The state is await­ing an ex­pert re­port from an an­thro­pol­o­gist based in the USA and dig­i­tal re­port ev­i­dence down­loaded from the cell­phones. ‘It seems that the li­cence soft­ware, which is needed to down­load cell­phone re­ports, has ex­pired but it is be­ing ad­dressed at a high level as it af­fects the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. ‘The state has se­cured most of its wit­ness’ state­ments,’ she said. A lover’s quar­rel Just be­fore pro­ceed­ings were brought to a close, the court heard that Del Vec­chio and Pa­tel had been writ­ing each other love letters whilst be­ing de­tained. Mthethwa also brought it to the at­ten­tion of Mag­is­trate Khalil that Del Vec­chio was go­ing through a di­vorce and re­quested to be trans­ferred back to Westville Prison in or­der for him to have eas­ier ac­cess to his le­gal team. ‘On 12 Au­gust a sher­iff went to Kok­stad where he served my client with a sum­mons. ‘For him to prop­erly de­fend this di­vorce mat­ter he would like the court to con­sider hav­ing him moved back to Westville Prison. Mag­is­trate Khalil said it was not within his power to di­rect the prison au­thor­i­ties as to where the ac­cused are de­tained.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.