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Jailed in Seychelles for corruption, but says it's a frame-up

Abison Degiorgio was coming back from a trip to Malta when his life fell apart

Mr Degiorgio during happier times.

Mr Degiorgio during happier times.

A Seychelles resident whose father is Maltese was yesterday sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty of corruption.

Abison Degiorgio, a former complaints and communication manager at the Seychelles Anti-Corruption Commission, was found guilty on three counts of corruption – extortion, disclosing sensitive information and corruptly soliciting gratification in exchange for delaying an ongoing investigation involving a former minister.

His wife, Diana, insisted her husband, who holds a Maltese passport, was “innocent and the victim of a frame-up”.

She said Mr Degiorgio had been in Malta between February 3 and 5 this year to attend a school reunion and was arrested at the Indian Ocean island’s airport upon his return. He was remanded in custody after being denied bail pending sentencing.

“I am very frustrated because we still believe he has been framed. This is not justice. He had nothing to do with investigations because he was part of the communications office,” Ms Degiorgio said.

Her husband, she continued, would be appealing the sentence. He had to do so within 42 days but his appeal would not be heard before April since appeal cases were only heard three times a year, she noted.

According to Seychelles news reports, the lead investigator told the press after the court’s ruling the case had been “very hectic”.

“It is the first time in the history of the Seychelles that we imprison someone on grounds of corruption,” Bill Zialor was quoted as telling the press.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, which was set up in 2016, is tasked with receiving complaints, investigating, detecting and preventing corruption practices in the public and private sector.

Read: Mr Degiorgio's 2012 bartending marathon for Puttinu Cares

According to Seychelles media reports, Mr Degiorgio was part of a team set up by the commission last year to carry out a survey on perceptions about corruption.

Speaking during a press conference at the time, Mr Degiorgio was reported as saying that corruption remained one of the most serious matters and problems in many countries and the Seychelles was no exception.

“Corruption can prevent an individual as well as a nation from developing economically, hence, it is very important that we educate ourselves and others. This menace is affecting our livelihood and risk jeopardising the future of our children,” he had said.

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