Raouf Gulbul is in the crosshairs of the Drugs Commission after the testimony of Tisha Shamloll concerning visits and dealings with drug dealers in prison. But this seems to be an old tactic. Weekly uncovers a previous episode of the lawyer’s dealings with drug barons in prison and one that will make its way into the commission’s view as well.
The story begins with Joseph Bottesoie, a drug dealer who was put in Beau Bassin prison in August 2001 for dealing and possession of heroin. At the outset, Bottesoie picked Raouf Gulbul as his lawyer and Gulbul dutifully visited Bottesoie in prison seven times between December 2001 and June 2002. Very soon, however, Bottesoie felt unsatisfied with Gulbul and decided to switch lawyers. The court appointed Ghanshyamdas Bhanji Soni as his lawyer, and Soni began visiting Bottesoie, now his client, as from 27 February 2003, according to prison records.
But just before Soni met his client in prison for the first time, another lawyer, Coormaravel Pyaneandee, snuck in a visit to Bottesoie on 2 November 2002. Now Pyaneandee was not representing Bottesoie, nor did Bottesoie appoint him as his lawyer. In fact, just a few days later, on 15 November 2002, Pyaneandee also visited Rajen Velvindron in Phoenix prison. The trouble with all this was that Bottesoie was supposed to act as a witness in the upcoming trial of Velvindron, so it was hard to see how Pyneandee could simultaneously visit both prisoners without raising some questions of conflict of interest, especially since neither of them had actually hired Pyneandee. Or Dick Ng Sui Wa for that matter, who also mysteriously showed up in Velvindron’s visitors list just once in 10 January 2002, despite the fact that another of Dick Ng Sui Wa’s clients helped put Velvindron in prison in the first place. It seems that quite early on, lawyers visiting drug dealers who were not their clients was already a problem.
So where does Gulbul fit into the picture? Well, officially he is not supposed to appear in this story anymore, given the fact that Bottesoie had fired him as his lawyer and opted for state counsel. But according to the barristers’ book in the Beau Bassin prison, Gulbul somehow showed up again to deal with Bottesoie, despite not being his lawyer anymore. In the afternoon of 22 March 2003, Raouf Gulbul held a stormy meeting with Bottesoie for just over an hour. Why is it stormy?
Shortly after the meeting ended, Bottesoie penned down a letter to the commissioner of police where he wrote that Gulbul had made him an “indecent proposal”. According to Bottesoie’s letter to the police commissioner, Gulbul had told him that he could be sentenced to 45 years in prison for his crime. What Gulbul (who was not Bottesoie’s lawyer, by the way) was offering him was that if he lied in court and helped Velvindron beat his case, Velvindron would pay him Rs5 million. Gulbul then allegedly offered to put that Rs5 million to good use in “high places” to get Bottesoie’s sentence reduced. Gulbul’s statement to the police in response was that Bottesoie had a “grudge” against him. Strange that Gulbul would be negotiating on behalf of a drug trafficker Velvindron, who was not his client, with another drug trafficker, Bottesoie who too, was not his client. This is where Pyneandee and Dick Ng Sui Wa’s roles start making sense, according to Bottesoie’s story. They were serving as go-betweens for Gulbul, who was careful not to appear in the visitors’ list of both prisoners. Much as young lawyers today are alleging that they were being used by superiors careful to tiptoe around the limelight.
According to the occurrence book, held at the Central CID, Raouf Gulbul once again showed up at the prison a couple of days later at 8.30 a.m. on 29 March 2003 to meet Bottesoie. According to the guardroom, Gulbul “insisted” on meeting the drug trafficker, who was not his client. The occurrence books at the CID as well as the visitors’ book at the Beau Bassin prison show that Bottesoeie refused to meet Gulbul. The occurrence book went on to state that Bottesoie on 4 April 2003 then wrote another letter, this time to the then-Director of Public Prosecutions, the Master and Registrar of the Supreme Court as well as the police stating that Gulbul was attempting to influence him to change his testimony in the case against Rajen Velvindron.
In fact, when Velvindron’s case did finally make it to the Supreme Court on 17 July 2003, the proceedings made for interesting reading. Bottesoie did appear as a witness against Velvindron and when questioned about why he was adamantly opposed to Gulbul appearing on his behalf, Bottesoie replied, “Because he came to influence me”. The next question was; “How did he influence you?” Bottesoie’s reply simply was, “He asked me to lie in court”. Bottesoie ended up testifying against Velvindon in the Supreme Court. But the bits about Gulbul were disturbing enough.
A duly horrified Master and Registrar at the Supreme Court ended up on 5 January 2004, sending a notice to the police that, “in view of the nature of the allegations made against some barristers (Gulbul – ed.) in the course of the proceedings in the abovementioned case, I am forwarding to you a copy of the said proceedings for your attention and for any action which you may deem fit to take”. Nothing happened after that. Until this Commission of Inquiry, that is. And this blast from the past will figure in the Commission’s hearings regarding Gulbul and will no doubt work against the lawyer who seemed, until now, to get away with it all.
The lawyers appearing at the drugs commission
A number of lawyers have appeared on the radar of the drugs commission. Jaysingh Chummun was found to have contacted a number of drug dealers in prison. Chummun told the commission that he did so under the orders of his senior, Navin Ramchurn. Tisha Shamloll also appeared before the commission regarding her contacts with drug dealers, especially Peroomal Veeren. She said that did so upon the request of her senior Raouf Gulbul. Erickson Mooneapillay in his testimony implicated Sanjeev Teeluckdharry. Other lawyers include Jenny Mootealloo and Anupam Kandhai. Another lawyer, Shameer Hussenbocus, has also been fingered by the commission for visiting drug traffickers in prison and the commission raised questions about a Rs5.6 million land purchase the young lawyer had made. Questions were also raised by the commission about another lawyer, Noor Hussenne, who the commission believes accompanied Raouf Gulbul and Tisha Shamloll on a trip to Reunion and contributed to Gulbul’s unsuccessful election campaign in 2014. The name of Kailash Trilochun has also come up during the commission’s hearings.
Sanjeev Teeluckdharry seeks a Supreme Court injunction against commission’s probing
The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Sanjeev Teeluckdharry, has applied to the Supreme Court in an effort to seek an injunction against the commission’s further probing into his dealings with drug dealers in prison until the commission gives Teeluckdharry all the documents incriminating him. The deputy speaker found himself in hot water after he was implicated by Erikson Mooneapillay during the latter’s testimony in front of the commission.
The commission questioned Teeluckdharry about what it termed to be 99 ‘unsolicited’ visits, phone calls and text messages to drug offenders in prisons including ‘Gros Derek’ amongst others. Other prisoners that Teeluckdharry is believed to have visited include Peroomal Veeren, Kabinda, Chuckory, Mike Colley and Jean Antoine Calou. Teeluckdharry asked for more time to be able to prepare his explanations and defense before the commission. The commission at the beginning of July granted Teeluckdharry one month before he has to give an explanation for his dealings with drug barons behind bars. The allegations against Teeluckdharry had galvanized the opposition against him. Although he was scheduled to preside over the sitting of the House, the speaker, Maya Hanoomanjee, shortened an overseas visit to attend the National Assembly.
Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus grilled by commission
Parliamentary Private Secretary and MSM Parliamentarian Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus was one of the first lawyers to be criticised for visiting drug barons behind bars that were not her clients. In her hearing in front of the commission of inquiry on Wednesday, it emerged that she had visited no less than 37 prisoners in one day in January 2009, all of whom were incarcerated for drug-related offenses.
These included The Commission also said that it had reason to believe that Roubina Jadoo-Jaunbocus tried to contact Tisha Shamloll. In addition, the commission highlighted transfers of up to Rs. 100,000 into Jaunbocus’ account on a number of occasions. Although initially Jaunbocus claimed not to be aware of these transfers, eventually she acknowledged that such transfers were made but insisted that they were related to a “private matter” and wrote the reason on a piece of paper before handing it over to the commission. Towards the end of the hearing, Jadoo-Jaunbocus became emotional and argued that as a wife and a mother she would not frequent drug traffickers.
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