Strangled, chained and made to sleep on wet floor - alleged ISIS-linked murder accused tells court

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Murder accused Sayfudeen Aslam Del Vecchio, who is allegedly linked to ISIS, says he was strangled, chained on his feet and made to sleep on a wet floor while in custody at Westville prison.

Del Vecchio, his wife Fatima Patel and their co-accused Ahmad "Bazooka" Mussa appeared in the Verulam Family Court on Wednesday under a heavy police presence.

They have been accused of the kidnapping and murder of British-born horticulturalist couple, Rod and Rachel Saunders and also face charges of robbery and the contravention of domestic counter-terrorism laws. The couple was apparently killed while on a tour in KwaZulu-Natal in February.

In court on Wednesday, Del Vecchio told Magistrate Irfaan Khalil that he had applied to speak to social workers, lawyers and nurses while in custody, but none of them came to see him.

"My human rights are being violated. I was strangled, chained on my feet and made to sleep on a floor with water. It was in winter," he told the court.

Khalil instructed the accused's lawyer, Mondli Mthethwa, to take full instructions from Del Vecchio and assist him to open a case against those who allegedly assaulted him.

ALSO READ: Suspected ISIS couple appears in KZN court

It was not immediately clear whether he claims that he was assaulted by police or other inmates.

"He also has a right to be kept in humane conditions. He has a right to lay charges against those who assaulted him," said Khalil.

The court also heard that Del Vecchio and Patel intended to apply for bail, on the basis of new facts. Their previous bail application was denied, as well as Mussa's.

Khalil said it was previously the court's view that it would not have been in the interest of justice if the couple was released on bail because of the "overwhelming" evidence against them.

He said it was up to Mthethwa to bring the new application.

Del Vecchio and Patel have been in custody since their arrest on February 15, while Mussa has been in custody since March 23.

Khalil postponed the case to May 7, 2019 when a provisional indictment is expected to be served on the three accused.

The magistrate said the trial was likely to start "some time" in 2019 and conclude towards the end of the year.

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