The High Court on Sunday (October 16) overturned the conviction of renowned Quran teacher or reciter Hussain Thoufeeq, for committing a sex crime.
In November 2013, Thaufeeq was sentenced to six months banishment and 15 lashes for sexually abusing children. However the Criminal Court suspended the sentence for three years, on the grounds it was the Qari’s first offence.
Thaufeeq appealed the verdict and the High Court ruled noted that the three witnesses were all related, had not reported the matter to police, and had testified after being evicted from their apartment.
Presiding Judges Abbas Shareef, Yousuf Hussain, and Dr Ezmirelda Zahir ruled that the testimony of the witnesses was not sufficient to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt.
Thaufeeq was arrested in August 2010 on multiple charges of child sexual molestation with “some cases going a long time back,” police said at the time.
Thaufeeq’s students had also submitted a petition to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) asking the commission to investigate the allegations.
Thaufeeq hosted a daily Quran teaching program on Television Maldives (TVM) for school children every evening after Isha prayers. He also led Friday prayers and conducted sermons.
Under the Child Sex Offenders (Special Provisions) Act of 2009, the penalty for child sex abuse is 10-14 years but can be extended to 15-18 years if the accused was in a position of trust with the children he allegedly abused.
However, Thaufeeq was charged under a different regulation for criminalising fornication and sexual misconduct.
The Qari is also being charged with possession of pornographic material. The trial is still pending at the Criminal Court.