Woman sentenced to exile over misappropriation of tsunami relief funds

A woman has been sentenced to exile for three years and seven months by the Criminal Court for misappropriation of tsunami relief funds.

Criminal Court said that Sharmeela Sharaeef of Oivaru, Meedhoo in Dhaalu Atoll, had been initially been handed MVR 266,888 (US$17,307) by the government on September 16, 2009, local media reported.

However, only MVR 89,572 (US$5800) was distributed to 49 households and the remaining MVR 177,316  (US$11,500) had been kept in her desk drawer, according to local media.

The money was provided by the government to be distributed to farmers on the island of Meedhoo in Dhaalu Atoll, who suffered losses during the 2004 tsunami.

The Criminal Court ruling stated that one day after she had been handed the relief funds, MVR 13,200 kept in Sharmeela’s care had gone missing.

The ruling stated that it could not be proven in court that a copy of the drawer key was held by anyone else other than Sharmeela.

According to the Public Finance Act, money kept in an office on a temporary basis should only be kept in a safe, local media reported.


MDP to mark ‘Black Friday’ anniversary

The former ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has announced that it will mark the eighth anniversary of ‘Black Friday’ August 13, 2004 with a special rally and photo exhibition on Monday night.

The spontaneous gathering of the public at the Republic Square on August 12 and 13, 2004 against the regime of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was a watershed event in Maldivian history.

The unprecedented 22-hour pro-democracy demonstration was quashed in a brutal crackdown on the afternoon of August 13 by the former National Security Service (NSS).

Shortly after the crackdown and arrest of scores of demonstrators, President Gayoom declared a state of emergency, which lasted two months.

In August 2005, then-Chairperson of MDP, former President Mohamed Nasheed, was arrested on the first anniversary of Black Friday during a vigil at the Republic Square.

According to the party website, the rally planned for Monday night to mark the anniversary will feature a video presentation about torture.