Kistnen Murder: Can truth prevail?

Editorial

The avengers group of lawyers succeeded, last Saturday, to relegate to the background the 2021 PRB report, made public last week, with its island wide rallies culminating in a demonstration in front of Government House organised in memory of late Soopramanien Kistnen, who was known to be a political activist in Constituency No. 8 and was murdered in mysterious circumstances at Telfair 12 months ago.

Persistent efforts by those public-spirited lawyers, working pro-bono and supported in no small measure by the media, have succeeded in keeping the issue alive, and the judicial inquiry started by the Director of Public Prosecutions into this case has brought to light unacceptable factors relating to the initial investigation, which ascribed the death of late Soopramanien Kistnen to suicide. We have thus learnt about the questionable role played by investigating officials, the conflicting evidence of expert forensic doctors on the cause of death of the victim, the disappearance or unavailability of vital information such as mobile phones or the so-called “Kistnen papers”, the mystery surrounding the Safe City video recordings of the movements of the victim in some particular places… details of which only came out from the proceedings of a judicial inquiry.

The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary have fortunately stepped in this particular case and in fact more than once to uphold the Constitution. Fortunately for the country, for when some institutions fail to live up to their mission either because political powers have scorched them or because their top brass do not possess the moral fibre needed to execute their functions to the highest ethical standards and norms and to deliver in the larger national interest, it is the country that fails.

We will not prejudge nor speculate on the outcome of the judicial inquiry investigating into this case. The Commissioner of Police has made known his determination to go to the bottom of this and other alleged serial suicide cases of public officials, which all seem to have had a connection with the emergency procurements of medical equipments and drugs in 2020. Other disturbing aspects of the Kistnen case relate to the deliberate schemes to apparently reward an active party agent from a variety of emergency-contracts, which, when they did not materialise, may have led to the alleged fall-out between partners in the general elections of 2019.

At the end of the day, the question that arises is: will the truth about the death of Soopramanien Kistnen in mysterious circumstances emerge? In a comment on this case in a previous edition, our contributor Lex had pointed out that the truth will not emerge from the judicial inquiry unless there is clear evidence or evidence from which inferences can be drawn that one or more persons were linked to the homicide. ‘Nor will it emerge from a police investigation, even if a further inquiry is ordered by the DPP, given the record of the investigating agencies. This is the stark reality of the Mauritius of today.’

The new Commissioner of Police will hopefully prove us wrong – despite the ‘Kistnen Papers’, which detail out the electoral expenses in that same constituency where the late soopramanien Kistnen was actively campaigning for his party, expenses which, by the way, and according to those papers, shared by the deceased agent, would be far in excess of authorised constituency campaign ceilings. This is now a case entered to the courts as a private prosecution by one of the candidates, Suren Dayal, an action which may force the DPP’s Office to take a stand, should they be in presence of the findings of the police enquiry ordered by the district magistrate during the judicial enquiry.


* Published in print edition on 19 October 2021

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