The leader of the main opposition party in Seychelles was charged on Monday as part of an investigation into alleged witchcraft.
Patrick Herminie, the head of the United Seychelles party who has said he plans to run in the 2025 presidential election, has denounced the move as politically motivated.
Herminie, also a former speaker of parliament, was arrested on Friday at his party’s headquarters and his office searched before he was later released.
He was formally charged on Monday along with seven other people at the Seychelles magistrates’ court as part of a probe into “witchcraft” and “unnatural and superstitious” acts.
“This is a political show by the president (Wavel Ramkalawan) to eliminate those who he knows will remove him from power in the 2025 elections,” Herminie was quoted by the Seychelles News Agency as saying after his arrest on Friday.
Prosecutors said Herminie’s name was found in a WhatsApp message exchange with a Tanzanian man who was detained in September allegedly in possession of items linked to witchcraft including black wooden artefacts, small bottles of brownish liquid and documents containing language and symbols described as satanic.
The case is linked to an investigation into the discovery in August of the dug-up bodies of an elderly woman and a young man in a cemetery on the main island of Mahe.
Prosecutors have also said symbols on the documents found in the Tanzanian’s possession were similar to those found in places that were vandalised in Seychelles, including Catholic churches.
The court released Herminie and the other Seychellois defendants on bail of 30,000 Seychelles rupees (about $2,200) while the Tanzanian was ordered to remain in police custody.
A new hearing in the case is scheduled for November 3.