Judges sought for magistrates courts in 49 islands

Judges are being sought to oversee magistrates courts in 49 islands, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has announced.

The JSC has said it is searching for chief magistrates for 41 courts and magistrates for 8 courts. The deadline for submitting an application is February 14, 2013.


Inflation rate increases 10.88 percent during 2012

Statistics from the Department of National Planning have indicated that inflation in the Maldives rose by 10.88 percent during 2012, according to local media reports.

Department director General Mariyam Niyaf explained the increase was the result of prices in commodities changing.

Local newspaper Haveeru has reported that the statistics indicated the cost of fish has increased by 50.77 percent nationwide, while food and beverage catering had risen by 10.85 percent over the twelve month period.

“All assessments show that the prices are rising. We believe that the main reason for it could be the rise in price of vegetables to 8.8 percent. Fish prices are also up 2.8 percent, Haveeru quoted Niyaf as saying.

Meanwhile, statistics indicate the inflation rate for furniture, household items, air transportation, as well as tools and equipment have slightly decreased.

In August 2012, an increased inflation rate was attributed to changes in the dollar, currently pegged to the rufiyaa within a 20 percent range of MVR 12.85.

In real terms, the rate has remained fixed at the maximum limit of MVR 15.42 and remains non-exchangeable, forcing importers to rely on inconsistent black market dollar exchanges of up to MVR 17-18.

In April 2011, then-Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz explained that the government decided to change the fixed exchange rate to a “managed float” to shape government policy towards increasing the value of the rufiyaa and ultimately bring the exchange rate down to MVR 10 – an oft-repeated pledge of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The worsening balance of payments deficit could not be plugged without allowing the market to set the exchange rate, Inaz said at the time, adding that through lowering the fiscal deficit and spurring private sector job growth, “a path would open up for us to reach the lower band (MVR 10.28).”


“Some” cases from Hondaidhoo alcohol arrests sent to Prosecutor General

Police this week have completed an investigation into “some” of the 10 people arrested in November 2012 for alleged possession and consumption of alcohol on Hondaidhoo Island in Haa Dhaal Atoll, according to local media.

Upon completion of the investigation Tuesday (January 29), the cases were forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office, newspaper Haveeru has reported.

The identities of the accused and the nature of the cases sent to the PG have not been disclosed.  However two Parliament members – Kaashidhoo constituency MP Abdulla Jabir as well as Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson and Henveiru South constituency MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – were among those arrested in November 2012.

In addition to Jabir and Hamid, former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki and former Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair, his wife Mariyam Faiz, Zaki’s son Hamdhan Zaki, Seenu Hulhudhoo Reefside Jadhulla Jameel, two Sri Lankans and a Bangladeshi were among the ten people arrested from Hondaidhoo.


Artificial beach to host World Cancer Day awareness event Friday

The Cancer Society of Maldives will be hosting a number of awareness programmes and events in the capital tomorrow (February 1) to mark the occasion of World Cancer Day.

Starting from 4:00PM at the artificial beach area of Male’ with a run/walk around the capital, the non-profit organisation will also be hosting simultaneous entertainment and awareness programmes for participants of varying fitness levels throughout the evening.

The events, which will run between 4:30pm until 6:00pm, include special exercise programmes tailored for children, yoga sessions for the public and question and answer sessions on issues surrounding cancer, according to the Cancer Society of Maldives. The event will also be attended by local performing artist Unoosha, while healthy snacks and drink stalls will also be provided from stalls operating in the area.

The evening will conclude with a three hour music show starting from 9:00pm, organisers have said.


“Come and contest. This time, we will defeat you in a single round”: Nasheed challenges Gayoom

The Maldivian Democratic Party held a several thousand strong rally on Wednesday night despite a police takeover of Usfasgandu, the party’s rally ground in Male’, and a warning from Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Jameel that the police would not allow the rally to be held in the area.

Police cordoned off the main rally ground and surrounding streets, with MDP members and supporters standing just beyond police lines. The rally was held adjacent to the protest site.

Crowds gathered an hour before the scheduled start of the rally and heated verbal exchanges took place between the protestors and approximately thirty police officers at the location. Minivan News observed two protesters being led away by police. However Police Media Official Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef said that no arrests were made in the area.

First a Maldivian, then a police officer

Many speakers at Wednesday night’s rally called on the police to step down and cooperate with the citizens, saying they were “first a Maldivian and then a police officer”.

“You should be ashamed to stay there in uniform when you are being used as political weapons,” said MP Ali Waheed, addressing the police officers.

Former MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi called on police to back down, saying the party members would not step back until they had guaranteed their freedoms and rights.

“We don’t care how big a power tries to tell us this is not a coup, whether it be the Commonwealth or the UN. We have no doubts about what we saw with our own eyes. We have no doubts about which shoes, which batons have been beating us,” Mariya said.

“No member of MDP will go back to their homes before we rid this country of this culture of violence.”

Both Mariya and Nasheed stated that the party’s intention was not to protect the rally grounds, but rather the rights of the citizens.

“It is not Usfasgandu that we are trying to defend, nor any other land either. We are here to protect freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the right to peaceful political activity. We will do this until our last breath,” Nasheed said.

“Take down these police lines,” Nasheed addressed the police. “There is no one in this country who can come out against the citizens of this country, to hold them back or restrict them. I call on the police and soldiers to step back now.”

“Maumoon is deceiving Yameen and Ilyas again”: Nasheed

Nasheed once again accused current President Mohamed Waheed Hassan of participating in planning a coup with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“There is one thing I must say to my former Vice President Waheed. You cannot forever eat the world with deceit. You can only do so for a short while,” Nasheed said.

“If you think that by taking the lead to plan a coup with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom you people will succeed in getting this country back in your clutches, then you are very much mistaken. We will not let that happen.”

Speaking of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Nasheed said the party was absorbed in in-fighting while MDP was conducting its door-to-door campaign. He alleged that Gayoom was “once again deceiving his brother Abdulla Yameen and brother-in-law Ilyas Ibrahim” by feigning refusal to run in the presidential elections.

“Maumoon has been pulling the wool over Abdulla Yameen’s eyes for a good 15 years now, telling him he won’t be running for president,” Nasheed said.

“He creates rifts between Yameen and Ilyas, and then, in the name of peace making, takes the reigns himself. He has been doing this for ages, and will do so again. Come and contest. We will defeat you again. This time, we will defeat you in a single round,” Nasheed said.

At the end of his speech, Nasheed made reference to the recent allegations plans of assassination plots against him.

“You can plan to poison me, you can plan to shoot me, you can conspire to do anything at all. But the final will is not that of Jameel, Waheed or Saeed. Accept it, the final will is that of Almighty God,” Nasheed said.

“None of you must be mistaken, be it the judges or the police and army. I am repeatedly saying that on the 11th of November 2013, it will once again be me who is sworn in as President of this nation.”

Police have closed off the MDP rally grounds following an order from High Court released Wednesday, stating the area shall be kept under the care of the police and not used for any purpose until the court reaches a verdict on the matter.


Court delays Afrasheem murder trial after suspect unable to afford lawyer

The Criminal Court has delayed the second hearing into the trial of Hussain Human, who is accused of murdering MP Dr Afrasheem Ali for the sum of MVR 4 million (US$260,000).

The Criminal Court told the media that the hearing was cancelled as Humam was unable to afford a lawyer.

Spokesperson for the Criminal Court Mohamed Manik told Minivan News that the defendant has asked the state to appoint a lawyer for him.

Maldivian law obliges the state to appoint lawyers for those who can’t afford one when dealing with murder cases.

Manik said the court has not yet decided a date to schedule the next hearing.

‘’A date will be decided after discussion with police and the Prosecutor General’s Office,’’ he added.

During the last hearing the state attorney read out charges against Humam, who pleaded not guilty and requested the court to grant him the opportunity to appoint a lawyer for his defence.

The presiding judge then asked Humam how soon he could appoint a lawyer. Humam replied that he would have to speak to his family. He was given one week and the second hearing was scheduled for Thursday.

Attorneys representing the state told the Criminal Court that on October 1, 2012, Humam and a group of people attacked and murdered Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has previously alleged that the murder of the MP for Ungoofaaru constituency was a well-planned murder worth MVR 4 million.


Italian tourist dies in propeller accident while snorkeling

A 51 year-old Italian tourist died in a boat propeller accident while snorkeling on Thursday afternoon (January 31) near Elaa Island in Thaa Atoll.

Minivan News spoke to Veymandoo Regional Hospital Manager Abdulla Mauroof about the incident, who confirmed that the woman was pronounced dead on arrival.

According to Mauroof, the woman suffered a “major injury to her skull”.

“Her body is still being held under police charge at the hospital and a police forensics team has been dispatched,” Mauroof added.

The snorkeling accident was reported at 14:50. The dive boat operator has not been confirmed at this time.

Veymandoo police are currently investigating the incident.

Snorkeling deaths

During 2012, tourist deaths – usually while snorkelling – were disproportionately higher among Chinese tourists, who now account for a majority of Maldives tourist arrivals compared to the country’s traditional European markets.

In October 2012, a 26 year-old male from China staying at Alif Dhaal Atoll Vakafaru resort was suspected to have died in a snorkelling accident at the property.


Budgetary constraints temporarily halt efforts to bring in foreign experts for CoNI report review

Efforts to bring in two international legal experts to review the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report have been put on hold due to budgetary constraints, local media has reported.

The parliament’s Government Accountability Committee had attempted to seek the legal experts in order to look into the report of the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed was quoted as saying that there were no funds available to the committee in order to bring in the foreign experts.

The committee had earlier chosen a legal expert from Denmark’s Copenhagen university and two lawyers to review the report, who were scheduled to start on Friday and work for seven days, local media said.

Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ali Waheed said that the committee will make a decision and set a date based on “what is decided by the Parliament Speaker on the budgetary issues”.

Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid is currently abroad and is expected to return next week, according to local media.


MTCC records MVR 24.1 million profit for 2012

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has made a MVR 24.1 million (US$1.5 million) profit for the year 2012.

The company’s records – according to local media – show that it made MVR 597 million (US$38.5 million) in sales last year and declared MVR 12 million (US$77,7201) as taxes.

Sun Online reported that in 2011, MTCC lost MVR 8.03 million (US$518,000) and failed to distribute dividends to its shareholders for that year.