Praveen Chuttoo (31) and Dharma Raj Singh Sooknundun (38) were convicted by the Intermediate Court having sought and obtained bribes from the owner of a video store.
Oral arguments were scheduled on Friday. The two police officers were prosecuted by the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) for “bribery by public official” in violation of Articles 4 (1) (a) (2) and 83 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA). They pleaded not guilty in court.
The first named is accused of, on 4 December 2009, at Riche-Terre, receiving a sum of Rs 35,000 from Rajkumar Bholah, owner of a video store in Le Hochet, Terre Rouge, and Pamplemousses. The officer requested that money for not reporting a crime allegedly committed by the latter.
Concerning sergeant Dharmarajsingh Sooknundon, he was accused of soliciting Rs 10,000 from the same Rajkumar Bholah on December 21, 2009, to avoid another offence. The accused was responsible for a Special Squad at the police station in Terre Rouge.
2700 movies seized
On December 4, 2009, police made a search at the video store of Terre Rouge and seized two boxes of films. The sleuths have arrested the brother of the owner on that day. According to Bholah Rajkumar, he chose to accompany the officers to the police station and Praveen Chuttoo accompanied him in his car. He said he sought an “arrangement” and after a few telephone exchanges, Praveen Chuttoo asked for Rs 35,000 and he will hand over his films without any offense being alleged. The witness claimed he handed the money the same day to the police officer.
However, on December 21, 2009, Dharmarajsingh Sooknundon appeared at his video store to tell him that Rs 35,000 was not sufficient and he claimed him Rs 10 000 more. On 22nd of December 2009, the police again raided the video store and seized 2 700 films. Rajkumar Bholah complained to the Anti-Corruption Commission on the 23rd of December 2009.
Praveen Chuttoo denied the charges against him and he said that he never received the sum of Rs 35 000. During his 13 years in the police force, he never had any problems, he said. Dharmarajsingh Sooknundon also denied the allegations against him.
In his judgment, the magistrate Wendy Rangan points out that the prosecution has proved the elements of the indictment against the two policemen. Thus, he found them guilty of corruption.
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