28-year-old man stabbed to death in gang-related violence

A 28-year-old was stabbed to death in the capital Malé in the early hours of this morning (December 7) near the People’s Majlis.

Local media identified the man as Ahmed Mafaz also known as ‘Masodi Mafaa’ from Seenu Maradhoo Island. Haveeru reported Mafaz as belonging to the Masodi gang.

A Maldives Police Service (MPS) media statement read that Mafaz died at ADK hospital while being given emergency treatment for numerous stab wounds including fatal cuts in his neck and shoulders.

An MPS official told Minivan News that the stabbing case was reported to the police at around 1.45am and that the police officers at the scene took Mafaz to the hospital after stopping a taxi on the street.

An eyewitness told online news outlet Vaguthu that he saw two men stabbing and beating up Mafaz near the Alora furniture store while another group of people wielding machetes and other sharp weapons were banging on door of  a building used by the Masodi gang’s nearby, threatening to kill everyone inside.

Haveeru commented that the injuries appeared to be even more severe than those inflicted upon Ungoofaaru MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, whose brutal murder shocked the Maldives in October 2012.

In a tweet today, former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the President Abdulla Yameen’s government of failing to investigate violent crimes.

“Over 20 cases of knife attacks and 7 murdered in such attacks this year. President Yamin’s Govt has failed to investigate these crimes,” read the tweet

While speaking at a rally held to celebrate the first anniversary of the current government, President Yameen said that his administration has established peace and order in the country.

“We have peace and order in Malé and all regions of Maldives. We have peace. However, this is not to say that isolated and significant dangerous crimes do not occur,” said President Yameen.

“Saving the Maldives from these big atrocities is the biggest aim of this government,” he added.

He also pledged to implement the death penalty – reintroduced under his government – for the sake of human rights and dignity.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern over rising insecurity while claiming that the current administration has failed to protect right to life and security during its first year in office.

The MDP highlighted Yameen’s failure to find missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan. An investigation into the disappearance by a UK based private investigation firm concluded that radicalised gangs were the most likely suspects in his disappearance.

Meanwhile, ruling Progressive Party of Maldives have submitted amendments to the law prohibiting possession of dangerous weapons – a move which some civil society groups say violates constitutional rights such as the right to remain silent and to retain legal counsel.

A joint statement by Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urged the parliament to withhold from passing the amendments saying that it would “absolutely violate rather than limit fundamental rights of the people”.

The amendment bill states that suspects arrested for assault with sharp objects or dangerous weapons will not be able to exercise the right to remain silent “to any extent”.

Police could also question the suspect if he or she is either unable to have an attorney present within six hours, or waives the right to retain legal counsel.

Moreover, the suspect could only consult a lawyer in the presence of a police officer for the first 96 hours after the arrest.

The government’s intention to narrow constitutional rights came after a spate of violent assaults in the capital – which police said were a series of gang reprisals.


59-year-old woman dies of asphyxiation on Flyme flight

A 59-year-old woman died of asphyxiation last night (November 20) aboard a Flyme airline flight.

Local media has identified the woman as Shaida Hasan from Gaa Alif Villingili Sosun Villa. She died while on a domestic flight from Malé’s Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) to Kadadehdhoo.

Media outlet CNM reported a Flyme official as saying that, after noticing the woman was having breathing difficulties, the flight attendants provided the woman with first aid, giving her oxygen through the oxygen masks.

The Flyme official said that air traffic control were informed of the situation before the flight returned to INIA from where Shifa was taken to the airport health facility. The airline was informed of the death at 8.45pm last night.


24 year old male found dead in Malé

A 24 year old male has been found dead in Annaarumaage in Henveiru ward of capital city Malé on Tuesday morning.

Police stated that the discovery of the body was reported to them at 9:15am on Tuesday.

The body has been moved to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital with the aid of the Maldives National Defence Force.

Police did not reveal the identity of the male, or the circumstances surrounding the death.

A police media official stated that the reasons for death will be known after further investigation.


Criminal Court concludes hearings in to murder of Sheereen

The Criminal Court has concluded hearings into the trial of Ahmed Najah who stands accused of murdering his girlfriend Mariyam Sheereen of Laamu Gan ‘Thundi’ Ward in 2010.

During the last hearing of the case yesterday (March 25) the Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed took the concluding statements from both Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office lawyers and Najah himself.

Local newspapers reported that Judge Abdulla Mohamed announced that a verdict will be reached in April.

Speaking at the court, the PG’s lawyer said that witness statements reveal that Najah had threatened to kill his girlfriend, and that the last time anyone saw Sheereen alive was when she entered Najah’s room on the same night she was reported missing.

State lawyers told the court that Najah had come out of the room several times, locking the door each time.

There was an unpleasant smell coming from Najah’s room after Sheereen disappeared and later he was seen leaving the room carrying a suitcase, the state lawyers told the judges.

According to the state lawyer, they have obtained video footage showing a man wearing slippers of the kind that Najah wore carrying a suitcase.

The lawyer also said that the witness statements prove that Najah took a taxi to the building where Sheereen’s body was found.

Furthermore, state lawyers told the court that the suitcase was found to have DNA samples matching Sheereen’s and all the evidence and witnesses collected were enough to rule that Najah was guilty of murdering Sheereen.

Najah’s defense lawyer, however, told the judges that just because no one saw Sheereen leaving Najah’s room that night it did not prove that she did not leave the room that night.

Najah’s lawyer said that the unpleasant smell reported by witnesses had come from a towel.

He noted that the doctors were unable to tell exactly how Sheereen was murdered and that Islamic Fiqh Academies had advised that DNA tests be run using independent laboratories.

He also said that DNA test reports could not be used to prove a murder case.

Sheereen was reported missing on 31 December 2009 by her family and on January 4, 2010, her body was discovered by a construction worker at Maafanu Angaagirige – a house under construction – hidden under a pile of sand bags.

In August 2010, Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem raised murder charges against Najah in court and presented two witnesses – a taxi driver and a person who lived in the same apartment.

Police allege that Najah murdered Sheereen in the apartment in which they both lived, before putting her body into a 2.5 foot-long suitcase and transporting it to the construction site by taxi cab.

Shameem presented a man identified as Haneef who lived in the same apartment with Sheereen and Najah as a witness, and also the taxi driver who carried the suitcase subsequently found to have contained Sheereen’s body.


Convicted murderer retracts confession in High Court

Ahmed Murrath – the man sentenced to death by the Criminal Court after being found guilty of murdering a prominent lawyer in 2012 – has today retracted his confession given.

Newspaper Haveeru has reported that Murrath’s lawyer Abdul Hakeem Rashadh told the High Court his client’s hands were handcuffed behind his back when he made the confession and therefore it could not be considered a confession made without coercion.

Rashadh also told the court that Murrath did not willfully commit the murder because he was under the influence of illegal drugs, and also that his client had the opportunity to deny the confession as no witness had seen him committing the murder.

Haveeru reported that Murrath spoke inside the court today, telling judges that when he was in pretrial detention police had refused him access to a doctor.

Murrath acknowledged he is a drug addict and that he had experienced a pain in his body, in response to which police officers at the detention centre had given him a plastic bag containing tea.

Furthermore, it was reported that the Prosecutor General’s Office told the court there were two contradicting statements provided by Murrath, inquiring as to which one should respond.

The court told the PG’s lawyer to prepare his response at the next hearing, asking both parties to make it the final hearing.

Murrath’s girlfriend, Fathimath Hana of Rihab house in Shaviyani Goidhoo island, was also sentenced to life in the case after she confessed to “helping” her boyfriend kill Ahmed Najeeb.

The 65 year-old lawyer’s body was found stuffed inside a dustbin at Masroora house – Murrath’s residence – badly beaten with multiple stab wounds.

Speaking at the Criminal Court during the 2012 trial, Murrath’s girlfriend said that her boyfriend killed Najeeb after he became “sure” the lawyer had attempted to sexually assault her. She admitted to tying Najeeb’s hand, legs, and taped his mouth while Murrath threatened him with a knife.

“We thought he must have a lot of money as he is a lawyer,” she told the court, after declining representation from a lawyer.

Najeeb’s cash card was taken from him and the pair had used it to withdraw money.

According to Hanaa, she did not know that the victim had been killed until Murrath woke her up and told her at around 4:00am. At the time Hanaa said she was sleeping – intoxicated from drinking alcohol.

Murrath corroborated this course of events in his statement, saying that she was asleep when he killed the lawyer. He confessed to killing Najeeb out of anger and apologised to the family members.

On February 9, the cabinet advised President Abdulla Yameen that there was no legal obstruction to implementing death sentences, after the Home Minister Umar Naseer had ordered an end to the 60 year moratorium on executions.

The order closely followed the conclusion of the Dr Afrasheem Ali murder trial, in which Hussein Humam was sentenced to death. Similarly, Humam also claimed that his confession – currently being used as key evidence against his alleged accomplice – was given under duress.

Naseer stated that the order is applicable to all pending sentences, of which there are approximately 20.

In December 2012, the then-Attorney General Azima Shukoor drafted a bill outlining how the death sentence should be executed in the Maldives, with lethal injection being identified as the state’s preferred method of capital punishment.

The last person to be executed in the Maldives was Hakim Didi, who was executed by firing squad in 1953 after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder using black magic.


Chinese tourist drowns near Vilamendhoo resort

A Chinese tourist staying at the Vilamendhoo Resort in Alif Dhaal atoll drowned while out swimming yesterday (November 4), local media reports.

A source from the resort told CNM that the body of the drowned man was discovered in the afternoon and police were duly informed.

Last week, the body of a 25 year-old Chinese tourist staying at Alsana Velaavaru Resort was found floating in the sea near the resort.

Tourist deaths – usually while snorkeling – are disproportionately higher among Chinese tourists, which now account for a majority of Maldives’ tourist arrivals, compared to the traditional European market.


National Drug Agency warns of strong illicit drug in Male’

The National Drug Agency (NDA) has issued a statement warning people of a strong illicit drug in Male’.

The NDA said that the substance has harmful effects such as seizures, breathing difficulties and that it effects the functioning of the heart leading to death.

The NDA advised people to seek the help of a doctor as soon as possible if they come across any of the stated symptoms.

The drug agency did not mention the name of the drug nor what it looked like, but stated that their free toll 1410 will provide details of the drug.

Minivan News contacted 1410 and was forwarded to the front desk where they said there was no one at the NDA who could provide details of the drug mentioned in the statement.

However, NDA Treatment Department Head Abdulla Faseeh has told local media that drug dealers have been mixing illicit drugs with depressants without considering the quantity or the type of controlled drugs they are mixing it with.

Faseeh told newspaper Haveeru that drug dealers had mixed different types of controlled prescription drugs with illicit drugs in the black market.

In March 2009, Minivan News reported a series of deaths related to heroin laced with benzodiazepine, a class of psychoactive drugs.

The combination of benzodiazepine with opiates is known to lead to coma and even death.

The 2009 deaths included a number of users committing or attempting suicide. Earlier this week, a man was reported to have hanged himself inside an unused political party campaign office.

The area was reported to have been frequented by drug addicts living in the area after the Jumhooree Party stopped conducting political activities in the area.

In February this year the first drug survey done in the Maldives was released, showing that there were an estimated 7,500 drug users in the Maldives of which the majority were young people between the ages 15 and 24.

The survey showed that cannabis was the most popular used drug, followed by alcohol and opioids. It reported that there were about 200 intravenous drug users in Male’ and 300 in the other parts of the country who are vulnerable to the spread of blood-borne diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis.

Police statistics show that drugs related offences have increased by 16.4 percent this year in comparison to last year’s figures.


Police confirm body of Azerbaijan national found on Kurumba resort

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has confirmed an investigation is ongoing into the death of a 27 year-old male from Azerbaijan, whose body was discovered at the Kurumba Maldives resort near to the capital of Male’ on Thursday (July 25).

A police media official confirmed to Minivan News that the body of Tural Gurbanov had been discovered on the resort Thursday – though the cause of his death was unknown at time of press.

Local media has previously reported that the deceased was believed to have been a tourist whose body was discovered in one of the resort’s rooms on Thursday morning.


Retired Bilehdhoo magistrate died of natural causes, say police

A retired magistrate from the island of Bilehdhoo in Faafu atoll, Abdul Gani Ali, 65, was found dead on Sunday night (June 16), according to the Maldives Police Service (MPS).

The doctor who examined the deceased informed police that the retired magistrate died of natural causes and had sustained an inch-deep head wound in a fall.

Abdul Gani Ali was a long-serving magistrate at the Bilehdoo court.