UK police to re-submit information in Maldives over death of British couple in quad bike accident

UK police are to resubmit requests from relatives of a British couple killed in a quad bike accident last year at Kuredu Island Resort, regarding their preferred method of sentencing in a Maldives court.

Swedish national, Filip Eugen Petre, a son of a shareholder in the resort, is facing trial for his alleged role in driving a quad bike at Kuredu on August 6, which crashed into a tree while carrying British nationals Emma and Jonathan Gray.

Court officials in the Maldives confirmed that the trial has been awaiting a response from relatives of the deceased couple on their preferred punishment for the accused, information one relative has said was passed on by UK police to their Maldivian counterparts a number of months previously.  However, further hearings into the trial have not been held for several months.

Director of the Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid said the trial had not progressed as court authorities were awaiting the word of the deceased couple’s families on their preferred mode of sentencing for the accused, should he be convicted.

“A Criminal Court media officer tells me that what remains in the case is to obtain the word of the family of one of the victims, as to whether they want a sentence of execution, or blood money or to forgive,” Ahmed said.

“These are the options given to the family of a murder victim in Islamic law, subsequently in our penal laws too.  The court has sent the necessary documents to the concerned parties, but that there has been no response,” he claimed.

A relation of the Grays confirmed that neither victim’s family had received any official notification from the Maldivian courts themselves.  However UK police, through a family liaison officer, confirmed that their Maldivian counterparts were informed “months ago” of the families’ preferred sentence.

“The police have said that they are going to re-submit the issue to the Maldives police today,” claimed the relation. “That’s what is holding up the case right now, [the police] do not seem to have forwarded this information to the courts.”

The relative added that while they did wish to see some form of punitive sentence for the driver if he was convicted, they 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 that the prospect of Petre facing the death penalty was “shocking. It’s absolutely horrendous.”

Minivan News was awaiting confirmation from the Maldives Police Service at the time of press as to whether they had so far received the word of the families of the deceased couple and had in turn passed on the information to judicial authorities.

Previous hearings

In previous hearings, the prosecution claimed that the charge of ‘disobedience to order’ Petre stands accused of 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.

According to Article 88 of the Penal Code, disobedience to order is a crime and according to Article 88(c), if the result of violating the article is linked to a death, the case shall be dealt accordingly to Islamic Sharia.  The prosecution has previously contended that under Islamic Sharia, if an offender’s action is found to caused the death of a person, the offender shall be punished.

Under the Maldivian constitution, courts resort to Sharia in areas established law does not cover.

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.  Areef additionally claimed that the judge could not declare a verdict regarding the alleged confession said to have been during the previous hearing.

Areef contended that his confession could be withdrawn before the case reached to a conclusion, but the state attorney argued that after confessing in the trial, there was no way it can be withdrawn.

Petre’s lawyer has also contended that his client could not be charged under Islamic Sharia because his client is non-Muslim.

“Most tragic event”

Following the quad-bike incident in 2011, Filip’s father Lars Petre provided a statement to Minivan News in which he described the accident as “by far the most tragic event in my life, and words cannot describe how saddened we are. I and my family are deeply concerned with errors on some of the media reports and we are also deeply saddened by some accusations made at my son.”

“My son Filip Petre (23 years) was taking the two guests home, to the other side of the island, when he experienced some difficulties with the bike, and crashed headlong into a tree on the road. The crash took two lives and badly injured my son,” he added.

“He fell unconscious with the crash and woke up some time later to find the two deceased also lying on the road. He immediately called for help and worked alongside with the doctor who arrived to try and save the victims of the crash, while he was bleeding himself,” Lars Petre said.