The former speaker of the National Assembly has been released on bail in what literally appears as a case of politically motivated “witch hunt.”
by Massimo Introvigne
The main leader of the opposition in the Seychelles and former speaker of the National Assembly, medical doctor Patrick Herminie, is the victim of a witch hunt. Not in a metaphorical sense. He was arrested and charged on October 2 for what under Seychelles law is the crime of “being in possession of anything intended to be used for the purpose of witchcraft, conspiracy to exercise witchcraft, counseling and procuring another person in exercising witchcraft and soliciting any person to advise on any matter for any purpose whatsoever by witchcraft.”
The story started with two corpses dug up in a cemetery, in what authorities suspected was a ritual of witchcraft, although Herminie was not accused of being involved in the incident, and with the arrest on September 21 at Seychelles National Airport of a Tanzanian citizen. He was trying to enter the country with what the police described as “black wooden artifacts, stones, small bottles of brownish liquid, an assortment of powders, and a number of documents with strange language and symbols that may be described as demonic and satanic.” Five Seychellois were arrested as accomplices of the Tanzanian. The police claims that one of them mentioned Herminie in a WhatsApp conversation in a way raising the suspicion that the politician was also involved in witchcraft and satanism.
Herminie and the other Seychellois defendants were released on bail on October 2, waiting for a next trial hearing on November 3, while the Tanzanian remains in jail.
Advocacy for Alleged Witches, an international organization that campaigns for the elimination of anti-witchcraft statutes in Africa and other countries, protested the arrest. Its director Leo Igwe stated that, “Advocacy for Alleged Witches is asking the government of Seychelles to drop these charges because they are absurd and constitute a show of shame and embarrassment. The prosecution of Herminie and other co-accused is witch hunting in both literal and political sense. And witch hunting should have no place in 21st century politics in Seychelles. Otherwise, how does the government define witchcraft or witchcraft items? How does the government distinguish witchcraft items, whatever that means, from traditional religious objects? How did the prosecutors know that the said items were intended for use in witchcraft? Are stones, black wooden artifacts , and small bottles of brownish liquid witchcraft materials? I mean how will state prosecutors establish that some symbols are demonic and satanic? At a time of growing cases of witch persecution in many parts of Africa, the government of Seychelles should discontinue this unfortunate and unwarranted instance of witch hunting.”