Islanders blame sorcery for brutal stabbing of 76 year-old man

A 76 year-old man has been found murdered with multiple stab wounds on Kudahuvadhoo island in Dhaalu Atoll.

Ali Hassan was found knifed at an uninhabited house around 8:00 pm on Sunday night.

Sub-Inspector of Police Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News on Monday that a special team from the Serious and Organised Crime Department of police was dispatched to the island last night.

Reports have surfaced in the local media that the police detained four suspects from the island – however, Shiyam continued, “the team is currently investigating the murder and it is too soon to confirm anything in the case yet.”

Following the police examination, the victim’s body was returned to the family and buried this morning.

“The injuries sustained were horrific”, said Island Council President Ibrahim Fikry, who claimed to have seen the body.

Speaking to Minivan News, Fikry said that the victim’s forehead was slashed and that his neck was slit. “There were deep stab wounds to the chest and back, revealing the bones. The intestines were visible from a slash to the stomach,” he recalled.

The father of nine, known locally as “Ayubey”, was found murdered after he went out for prayer around 6:00pm, Fikry said.

“It seems he was attacked on his way back to home. The house where his body was found is situated close to where he lives,” he observed.

He added that the police discovered Hassan’s body inside a house while searching the area, after some locals reported an “unusual blood spatter on the road” near the house.

Sorcery afoot

The appalling murder has left many islanders on Kudahuvadhoo shocked and frightened.

Speaking to Minivan News, an islander from Kudahuvadhoo claimed that the victim was “unpopular” in the community for his alleged practice of sorcery.

“Because the wounds are so inhumane, some people believe the death was caused by Fanditha [sorcery] or Jinni [evil spirits],” he said under condition of anonymity.

According to the islander, the victim had previously been accused of using sorcery on a 37 year-old woman, who was reported missing at 2:00am on 4 December 2011 and whose body was found floating in Kudahuvadhoo lagoon later that morning.

The body was bleeding from an injury between her nose and mouth upon recovery, as if she had been punched or hit, the island council claimed at the time.

However Sub-Inspector Shiyam told Minivan News at the time that police had not noticed any incriminating injuries on the body and were not treating the incident as suspicious.

Hassan’s family was quoted in local media claimed that he was not a sorcerer, and claimed he had received death threats from another family on the island.

Hassan was formerly Deputy Chief of Gemedhoo island in Dhaal Atoll which was devastated in the 2004 tsunami. When the population resettled in Kudahuvadhoo, he was voted out of position over allegations of child abuse, said a council member.

The incident has meanwhile sparked fear among the island’s 3000 inhabitants, and some islanders “do not even come out of the house after dark”, according to a source.

“Some people believe that if sorcery is practiced wrong, the spell will be reversed, and the sorcerer can suffer paralysis, disability or in some circumstances even die at the hands of evil spirits”, he explained.

He added that dusk is generally considered to be the time of the day when Jinni are considered to be at large, and it was inadvisable to be out after dark. “Hassan’s body was found a few hours after the sundown,” he noted.

This is the second incident in three years in which the dead body of an old man was found abandoned, with injuries.

In September 2010 Hussain Mohamed Manik, a prominent businessman known as ‘Hussainbe’, was found dead inside an abandoned house on Hoarafushi in Haa Alifu Atoll.

Police at the time suggested that Hussain, age 61, may have been murdered, however due to lack of evidence for the charge the Prosecutor General (PG)’s Office instead pressed terrorism charges against three suspects who reportedly took him hostage and robbed him.