Cape Town - The case against the sole crew member who was with yachtsman Sean Terry when he went missing at sea two months ago has been withdrawn, leaving the matter an unsolved mystery.
Terry, 48, who grew up in Cape Town and has both an SA and British passport, had been on his yacht Finnegan with Stefan Pokorny, of Austria, when he allegedly fell overboard.
Pokorny was subsequently charged in a Seychelles court with two counts relating to negligence.
Last week, a hearing was supposed to have gone ahead in the Seychelles. However, at the hearing, the Seychelles authorities withdrew the case against Pokorny.
On Sunday, Seychelles police spokesman Jean Toussaint confirmed the case had been “set aside”.
He said as far as he was aware, Pokorny was not being detained and he was not sure of his whereabouts.
Terry’s family, in a statement, said they understood the case had been withdrawn as “the incident took place in international waters and is therefore outside of their [the Seychelles’] jurisdiction”.
“Our family is absolutely devastated at this turn of events,” they said.
“We have only ever wanted the truth and believed that a trial was our opportunity to get the answers to all the questions we have surrounding this case and which remain unanswered.
“We cannot believe that Sean is missing, presumed dead, without a trial or a full inquiry having taken place to determine the circumstances surrounding his disappearance,” the family said.
They said they would continue to do everything they could to determine what had happened to Terry.
On Sunday, Judith Middleton, appointed by Terry’s family to deal with the media on their behalf, said his relatives were awaiting a final report.
She said they were also seeking legal advice.
Middleton said Terry’s family was coming to terms with the likelihood that they would never see him again and that he was dead.
On the Facebook page “Sean Terry – Missing skipper of Yacht Finnegan”, which Terry’s family set up, a number of his friends expressed their shock at the decision to withdraw the case against Pokorny.
“No! I am devastated. How gutting when all you want is answers.
“My thoughts and prayers are with you every day,” one friend wrote.
In response, Terry’s family said they would keep everyone updated and asked that the posts on the Facebook page, which they have been using to try to gather further information on what happened to him, be shared.
Terry left Chagos on June 18 and a week later, on June 25, his yacht arrived at Coëtivy, off Seychelles, with only Pokorny aboard.
In a press release at the end of July, Terry’s family said so far they had established that a man-overboard signal had not been activated when Terry was lost en route to Madagascar.
They said safety equipment, including a life ring and dinghy, had been found on his yacht when it had docked in the Seychelles
His two laptops, with key information that could shed light on events, had also been missing from the yacht.