Justice system: Was the “commission d’enquête” on the sale of Britam really intent on finding the truth?

5 juillet 2019, 18:42


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Justice system: Was the “commission d’enquête” on the sale of Britam really intent on finding the truth?

On 3rd August 2017, former Judge Bhushan Domah, president of the Commission d’enquête on the sale of Britam, told us : “La vente de Britam s’est faite à la vitesse d’un métro”. He was right. But two years later, we come to the sad conclusion that his Commission d’enquête is not moving at all, having broken down when faced with the legitimate demand of the ex-owner of Britam to have his say.

It has found nothing better to do than to dig a huge hole in the evidence gathering exercise which means that whatever conclusions this Inquiry reaches will be met with incredulity and mockery by the public: the refusal by former Judge Domah to allow the man at the centre of the BAI/Bramer conglomerate, the architect of Britam, Dawood Rawat, to give evidence.

What makes matters much, much worse is the reason given by the learned judge to stop Dawood Rawat from giving evidence: that our justice system does not allow video evidence from abroad! Apparently, in our état de droit, our antiquated laws tell us that you need to be accused of being either an international pirate, a sexual deviant, or in prison before you can give evidence via Skype! Laws enacted in 1945 (the Courts Act) and 1944 the Commissions of Inquiry Act, former Judge Domah quotes gleefully from those two derelict pieces of legislation and ignores current court practices in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

And yet this is precisely what another Court of justice has been doing for years in the never ending Boskalis trial, where the two main witnesses have been allowed to give evidence from Holland via Skype. Perhaps Prakash Maunthrooa and Siddick Chady, the two co-defendants in Boskalis, might now seriously consider asking the court for the case against them to be dismissed on the basis that a Supreme Court judge has decided that evidence from abroad is illegal if given via Skype, and therefore the evidence of the two Dutchmen, the main witnesses, is inadmissible.

But that is unlikely to happen, and the excuse given to stop Dawood Rawat from giving evidence looks like a device to make censorship look legal. Many people now believe that the last thing that the establishment wants is to provide a platform for Dawood Rawat to give his version of what exactly happened before, during and after the dismantlement and destruction of the companies he had formed over many years.

Therefore, to expect the truth from a Commission of Inquiry that seems to be dying a quiet death is, as Samuel Johnson said on hearing news of a man remarrying after an unhappy first marriage, “the triumph of hope over experience”. And our experience in Mauritius tells us without equivocation that too many of our Commissions of Inquiry end up finding everything but the truth it was tasked to examine…

In the celebrated open letter by Emile Zola known as “J’accuse”, in which he accused the army and the War Office of covering up its mistaken conviction of Dreyfus, and which eventually led to Dreyfus being cleared of all wrongdoing, he wrote: “Dare to tell the truth, as I have pledged to tell it, in full, since the normal channels of justice have failed to do so. My duty is to speak out; I do not wish to be an accomplice in this travesty. My nights would otherwise be haunted by the spectre of the innocent man, far away, suffering the most horrible of tortures for a crime he did not commit…”

It is highly unlikely that former Judge Domah will be impressed by Zola’s accusatory finger. The die has been cast. And it seems like the truth has to be hidden, by any means possible, in an island that claims to be an état de droit.