On Monday morning, Captain Mbeye and I were taken away with four others. We (typically) weren’t told were they were taking us, but it turned out to be the courthouse, the Palácio Da Justiça. There I met Maria, the wonderful lawyer that my parents had organised for me. She assured me we’d be out before we knew it – the police had no case and no right to hold us for so long without following the correct procedure of Habeas Corpus. However, they didn’t have a translator for the fishermen, so we had to go back to the cells until 2pm. I spent the time singing Bohemian Rhapsody at the top of my lungs. The fishermen and I ate our last lunch together and just after 2pm, I left the custody of the Cape Verde police for the last time.
At the courthouse, I met a dapper Englishman by the name of Piran. He was from Sheffield and had taken the day off work to help out a fellow Brit in need. He worked as translator as Maria and I explained the whole sordid affair to the Judge. The court case was not even about the fact we had turned up on a wooden fishing boat, it was just based on the fact that the police had broken the law of Habeas Corpus.
While we waited for each of the fishermen to be interviewed by the Judge (the first time ANY of us were asked any questions!), I found out the ‘Senegalese Ambassador’ was in fact a copper and I chatted to local reporters. It was 6pm before the judgement came out.
The prosecution said that it was his considered opinion that we should all be set free immediately, so that made Maria’s job a little easier. The Judge set us all free immediately.
Anyway, as the police left, Piran and Maria found somewhere for the fishermen to stay for the night. Luckily, Maria knows the minister responsible for these people and he ensured that all of my Senegalese chums had a pension for the night. Piran gave us all a lift in his 4×4 monster truck (just the right size for 11 ‘illegal’ immigrants!) to the hotel, and there I said my goodbyes to the guys. Captain Mbeye, Modou, Saliou, Ablaye, Adama, Aleen, Aleen, Mahmoud, Doudou and Elage; what a bunch of legends. If I get any compensation out of this traumatic and frustrating experience, I’ll be sure to pass it on to them. Heaven knows they deserve it.
Piran and I then went for a pizza of liberation, washed down by copious amounts of alcohol. We met up with some other British ex-pats and as we clinked our drinks together, I thanked my lucky stars that I was born in what is still the best country in the world, and nowhere I’ve been since has even come close to knocking it off that position.
Ah, who cares? I was free.
ON WITH THE SHOW.
If you haven’t done so already, please, please sponsor this mad journey by throwing some money in the pot for WaterAid, so at least some good will come of this whole debacle – www.wateraid.org Thanks.
Huge hugs and desperate thanks to Mandy, Mum and Dad, Mike, Alex, Leo, Yvonne, Dino, Michelle, John Howell, John Roberto, Maria, Piran, Mito, Mel from WaterAid and everyone else who helped me out this week. You are all Odyssey Legends and you were there for me when I needed you the most, and that will never be forgotten.