Swedish national Filip Eugen Petre has been acquitted of all charges pressed against him during a Criminal Court trial, concerning his alleged role in a quad bike accident that resulted in the death of a British couple at Kuredu Island Resort in August 2011.
Emma and Jonathon Gray from Yorkshire in the UK, who had been staying on the resort for their honeymoon, were reported dead on August 6, 2011, after the quad bike they were riding was believed to have collided with a tree.
Petre, a son of a shareholder at the resort, was later charged with ‘disobedience to order’ by state prosecutors over his alleged decision to transport the couple on a vehicle not intended for passengers.
Criminal Court Media Official Ahmed Mohamed Manik confirmed that the presiding judge had ruled the suspect was not guilty, based on statements and evidence produced during the trial. The decision was made shortly before the presidential election held on September 7.
Manik said he was unable to provide Minivan News with further details of the case at time of press.
Local media reported on September 6 the presiding judges’ conclusion that, although the quad bike was not intended to carry passengers, staff on the resort had said the vehicle had previously been used to transport more than one person at a time.
According to Haveeru, the Criminal Court also ruled that the state could not conclusively prove Petre was directly responsible for the incident on the property. He was therefore acquitted of the charges.
Local media reported that Kuredu’s management had offered to cover all the expenses for the upbringing of the Gray’s son, who was just six months old at the time of the incident.
A spokesperson for Kuredu Island Resort declined to comment on the case, referring media enquiries to the Criminal Court.
Minivan News reported in March this year that Petre’s case was at a standstill as the Criminal Court claimed it was waiting on responses from the parents of the deceased regarding their preferred form of punishment for the accused.
However, both police in the UK and the families of the deceased previously insisted that their decision had been submitted and re-submitted to the court in 2012.
Director of the Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid at the time said that, although the trial hearings were over, a final verdict would not be delivered by the court until all family members had been consulted on their preferred form of punishment for the accused.
A relation of the Grays previously told Minivan News that their statements had been submitted multiple times on different occasions to the courts.
“On the last hearing, which was held on February 27, closing arguments were given by the state and the defense. The judge has stated that the final verdict of the charge would be delivered at the next scheduled hearing,” the relative said the family had been told.
Under Islamic law, the family of the victim is given the option to sentence the accused to execution, blood money or to forgive them.
The same relative added that, while they did wish to see some form of punitive sentence for the driver if he was convicted, the family did not want any severe or long-term action to be taken against the defendant.
“He’s just a young guy. We don’t want to see his life ruined,” the relative said.
Jonathan Grey’s mother Cath Davies told UK-based newspaper the Halifax Courier in March 2012 that the prospect of Petre facing the death penalty was “shocking. It’s absolutely horrendous.”
In previous hearings of the trial, prosecutors claimed that the charge of ‘disobedience to order’ Petre was accused of had resulted from his decision to carry people on a vehicle which was not intended for passengers.
The prosecution contended that his criminal action began from the moment he allowed the couple to ride with him on the vehicle.
Presiding Judge Abdul Baary Yousuf declared in court during earlier hearings that Petre’s lawyer had himself confessed during the trial that his client had driven the quad bike carrying Emma and Jonathan Gray as it crashed on the tourist property.
As a result of this confession, the judge said the state did not have to produce any evidence to prove Petre was the driver of the vehicle during the collision.
Representing the prosecution, State Attorney Aishath Fazna also contended that because Petre had “confessed” to driving the quad bike, she did not believe the state had to produce evidence to support this assumption.
However, Petre’s lawyer Areef Ahmed responded at the time that his client had not directly confessed to driving the quad bike and argued that his client continued to deny the charges against him.
Petre’s lawyer has also contended that his client could not be charged under Islamic Sharia because his client is non-Muslim.