High Court overturns convictions of murdered MP Afrasheem’s brothers

The High Court yesterday overturned the conviction of former MP Ibrahim Ameen on charges of embezzlement.

Ameen was the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP for Raa Ungoofaru, a seat previously held by his late brother, Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The moderate religious scholar was brutally murdered on October 1, 2012. Ameen had won the by-election for Dr Afrasheem’s vacant seat, but did not seek re-election last year.

In May 2014, Ameen was found guilty by the criminal court of embezzling MVR36, 818 (US$2,388) from the Ungoofaru Island Council Office between May 2004 to April 2006 and sentenced to banishment of four years and six months.

Ameen was found guilty as he had been responsible for all incoming cash, but was unable to explain how the cash from the island’s powerhouse went missing.

However, the High Court noted that Ameen’s inability to explain how the money went missing did not amount to a confession or grounds to convict in the absence of other conclusive evidence.

A second brother of Dr Afrasheem, Abdul Nasir Ali, was also handed an 11-year banishment sentence in April 2014 for embezzling MVR114,325 (US$7,414) from the island office. Nasir was also found guilty of embezzling fees paid by the power house.

On April 8 this year, the High Court overturned Nasir’s conviction as well. In Nasir’s case, the appellate court ruled that the funds in question were provided out of Nasir’s pocket to buy diesel for the island’s powerhouse, which reimbursed him through the island office.

The court noted that witness testimony during the criminal court trial proves Nasir’s defence.


PPM candidate Ibrahim Ameen takes parliamentary seat in Ungoofaaru by-election

The Progressive Party of Madives (PPM) candidate Ibrahim Ameen has secured the parliamentary seat representing the Ungoofaaru constituency in Raa Atoll that was previously held by his brother, the murdered MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC), Ameen took the seat with 1159 votes in polling held on the islands of Ungoofaaru, Hulhuduffaaru, and Maakurathu, all in Raa Atoll, as well as a special polling station in Male’. He defeated Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Dr Ahmed Ashraf who had 1078 votes.

There was some polling success however for the MDP during the day. The party’s candidate, Ashiya Hussain took the vacant island council seat for Keyodhoo in Vaavu Atoll with 221 votes, narrowly beating the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP’s) candidate Ahmed Fayaz, who had 219 votes.

With 15 minutes left before polling booths were closed around the country, EC President Fuad Thaufeeq said an estimated 83 percent of eligible voters had turned out to cast their ballots. Voters in the queue to vote before the polls closure at 4:00pm this afternoon were still allowed to vote, according to the EC.

Thaufeeq claimed that voting had gone “quite smoothly” at all the corresponding polling stations, with the majority of complaints it had received concerned with campaigning tactics being used the previous day.

“We had received some complaints that campaigning was continuing to take place past 6:00pm yesterday,” he said, referring to a practice outlawed under elections rules. “Other than that everything is going smoothly in the atoll.”

The Ungoofaaru by-election had been scheduled earlier this year following the murder of PPM MP Dr Afrasheem in Male’ in early October.

Earlier this week, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz said the Maldives Police Service (MPS) believed it was “not the right time” to reveal the details behind the murder of Dr Afrasheem.

Speaking to Minivan News today, EC President Thaufeeq said that despite the circumstances behind the by-election for the Ungoofaaru constituency, the polls had been conducted in “more-or-less the same manner” as had been seen with two other parliamentary by-elections held since February’s controversial transfer of power.

“We have been getting the same types of complaints that we received with previous by-elections in Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi. I would say it has gone a bit smoother than these,” he said. “There have been no major issues with the polls.”

The election itself was initially scheduled to be contested by three candidates after the PPM’s partners in the coalition government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, such as the DRP, opted against fielding candidates.

However, an independent candidate, Najih Jinah, registered to stand against the PPM and MDP made a late withdrawal from the contest to lend support to Ameen’s campaign, according to local media.

Previous contests

In the local council elections of February 2011 for two atoll council seats in the Ungoofaru constituency, the MDP candidate Ibrahim Zayan received 1,024 votes while then-opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) candidate received 1,790 votes.

Meanwhile, in the May 2009 parliamentary election, then DRP candidate Dr Afrasheem Ali received 573 votes while MDP candidate Dr Ahmed Ashraf came second with 533 votes.

In Vaavu Keyodhoo, all five island council seats were won by DRP candidates in February 2011 with the first placed candidate garnering 267 votes.