Ayyube murder suspect denies charges

Fauzan Mohamed, a suspect arrested in connection to the murder of 76 year-old Ali Hassan ‘Ayyube’ has denied the charges levied against him in the Criminal Court and has said he did not want the state to appoint him a lawyer.

According to online newspaper ‘Haveeru’, a hearing in to the case was yesterday held at the Criminal Court where the Judge repeatedly asked Fauzan if he wanted the state to appoint him a lawyer. But, he replied that he will continue the trial without a lawyer and said he will not need a lawyer at any point of the trial.

During yesterday’s hearing, the state presented four witnesses, a DNA report, Ayyube’s death certificate and a crime scene report.

Fauzan also presented two witnesses for his defense but he did not have the full name and permanent address of the two witnesses. The judge asked him to provide a written document including the full names and the permanent address of the witnesses.

Ayyube’s body was discovered with multiple stab wounds in an abandoned house on Kudahuvadhoo on January 8, 2013. Police arrested six individuals in connection to the case.

The victim had previously been accused of using sorcery on Fauzan’s 37 year-old mother. She was reported missing at 2:00am on December 4, 2011 and her body was found floating in Kudahuvadhoo lagoon later that morning.

Island Council President of Kudahuvadhoo Ibrahim Fikry at the time told Minivan News that the islanders were all frightened after Ayyube’s death.

“After the death of the woman the islanders were scared, and then this incident occurred and now the islanders are worse,” he said adding that no one walked the streets after the sun went down.

“The injuries sustained were horrific,” Fikry told Minivan News at the time. He 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.

In March, 2013, two minors charged with Ayyube’s murder pleaded guilty to aiding the murder in court. The two minors were charged with spying on Ayyube before the murder, and assisting the assailants to hide the weapons they used to murder him.

The step-grandson of Hassan was also summoned to the Criminal Court for his involvement in the case.

He told the court that he believed Fauzan murdered Ayyube because he was rumored to have killed Fauzan’s mother.

If found guilty, Fauzan will be sentenced to death. The death penalty will be implemented if the Supreme Court upholds the sentence and if all of Ayyube’s heirs desire the death sentence.

Before the trial ends, the court will take statements from all heirs of the victim to determine if they had any objection to passing death sentence on Fauzan.

On April 27, 2014, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said that death penalty will be implemented in the Maldives from that day onwards with the publication of procedural regulations concerning death penalty and its implementation in the government gazette.

Maldives has been maintaining an unofficial moratorium on the death penalty since 1953. After 1953, the heads of state have always commuted death sentences to life imprisonment through powers vested in him in the Clemency Act.

The last person to be judicially 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.

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MH370 sightings in Maldives are not true, reports Malaysian Defence Minister

Malaysian Minister of Defence Hishamuddin Hussein has been informed by Maldivian authorities that rumoured sightings of Malaysian flight MH370 over Kudahuvadhoo are false.

“Regarding reports that the plane was sighted in the Maldives, I can confirm that the Malaysian Chief of the Defence Force has contacted his counterpart in the Maldives, who has confirmed that these reports are not true,” Hishamuddin told the press today.

The defence minister’s comments come after eyewitness reports emerged yesterday of a low-flying aircraft in Dhaal atoll just hours after the Malaysian jet’s disappearance on March 8.

“I saw a flight flying very low and it had a red straight line in the middle of it. The flight was traveling north-west to south-east,” Adam Saeed, a teacher at Kudahuvadhoo school, told Minivan News.

Maldivian authorities have acknowledged the reports, with police taking the lead in investigating the sightings – though both the Maldives Airports Company (MACL) and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) have maintained that no irregular radar activity has been noted.

“The Maldives National Defence Force has been monitoring Maldivian territory with special attention since the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines’ MH370 airplane,” read an MNDF press release last night.

“In the search so far, no military radar has seen the flight. And the MH370 airplane has not been seen from the photos and information of radars established in Maldivian airports.”

“The Maldives National Defence Force has been providing all necessary cooperation to the efforts of the Maldives Police Service as well as international agencies concerning [the disappearance of the flight],” concluded the statement.

Police have announced the start of their investigations, with Kudahuvadhoo officer Mohamed Imad confirming that a team of investigators was being dispatched from the capital Malé to assist with the ongoing local investigations.

A spokesman for the MACL yesterday said that there had been no “credible” sightings or radar evidence of the missing flight, while some witnesses interviews by Minivan News expressed skepticism over the veracity of their neighbours claims.

Local news outlet Haveeru – which broke the story yesterday – said that similar reports had been received as early as March 9, but had been dismissed as lacking credibility.

Regarding communications with Malaysian authorities, Minivan News was unable to obtain a response from either the MNDF or the Ministry of Defence at the time of press.

Yesterday’s reports all described a low-flying plane, heading in a south-easterly direction between 6:15am and 8am (Maldives time).

Malaysian Defence Minister Hishamuddin has today confirmed, however, that the search will continue to focus on the two previously identified corridors.

The two arcs – one stretching between Thailand and Kazakhstan, the other south between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean – have been determined by locational ‘pings’ detected by a satellite revealing the flight’s last known location at 8:11am Malaysian time (5:11am Maldives time).

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Kudahuvadhoo islanders spotted low-flying mystery aircraft in hours after MH370 disappearance

With additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer and Ahmed Rilwan

Residents of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaal atoll have reported seeing a low flying aircraft heading in a south-easterly direction in the morning of March 8, prompting speculation that it could have been the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

“It was about 6:30am in the morning, I heard a loud noise and went out to see what it was,” Adam Saeed, a teacher at Kudahuvadhoo school, told Minivan News.

“I saw a flight flying very low and it had a red straight line in the middle of it. The flight was traveling north-west to south-east.”

While Saeed’s sighting has been corroborated by a number of witnesses, others remain skeptical that the aircraft could have been the missing jet, whilst aviation authorities maintain that they have no “credible” evidence to support the claims.

Police have confirmed they are looking into the reports without providing further comment.

Co-author of the original story Ahmed Naif explained that Haveeru had been receiving similar reports since March 9, but had been concerned about the credibility of the sightings.

“Later we were getting so many comments that we contacted the island and they said it was true,” explained Naif.

One islander, who identified himself as Hamzath, told Minivan News that had also seen a low-flying plane heading from north-west to south-east, though he remained wary of jumping to conclusions.

“People started talking about it when they realised that the flight that we saw had the same characteristics as of the missing plane,” he said. ”We are still not saying it is the same plane, we just wanted to report it just in case.”

Another witness – who wished to remain anonymous – confirmed a similar height and direction but did not see the plane’s colours, while another suggested that the reports had been exaggerated.

“A plane did fly near the island,” said the anonymous witness. “It wasn’t that big, as big as people say.”

“These days people will be out fishing every morning. Around thirty people would always be there in the morning – but no one talked about it then. If it was that noticeable, loud and big, people would talk.”

Caution urged

Investigators are currently searching an area spanning 2.24 million nautical miles, with two corridor arcs – one stretching between Thailand and Kazakhstan, the other south between Indonesia and the southern Indian Ocean.

The arcs were determined locational ‘pings’ detected by a satellite revealing the flight’s last known location at 8:11am Malaysian time (5:11am Maldives time). Witness reports received by Minivan News and Haveeru put the time of the sighting between 6:15am and 8am.

While the Maldives appears to have been ruled out of the ever-widening search for the missing Boeing 777 and the 239 people on board, reports this morning brought further mention of the Indian Ocean archipelago.

A simulator featuring five airports in the Indian Ocean region was discovered in the home of flight Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah today, as investigators remain convinced the plane’s disappearance was deliberate. A senior Malaysian police officer told Reuters, however, that such simulators are likely to feature hundreds of runways.

Ibrahim Nasir International Airport was featured on the simulator, as were three runways in Indian and Sri Lanka, as well as the US military base in Diego Garcia.

Although the Maldives receives over one million tourists every year, visitors to isolated islands are normally transported by seaplane from Malé’s airport.

When asked about the possibility of a plane of this size landing on an isolated airstrip in the atolls, Maldives National Defence Force spokesman Major Hussain Ali said this was not possible.

“If you are asking are there any landing strips outside of the main commercial airports, the answer is no,” said Hussain.

Contacted following the emergence of the Kudahuvadhoo sightings, neither Hussain not the President’s Office were responding to calls at the time of press.

Spokesman for the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) Hassan Areef has urged caution regarding the reported sightings in Kudahuvadhoo.

“We have no credible information about the plane in terms of radar or sightings,” said Areef.

“There are so many conspiracy theories – we have no credible information that the plane has come to us.”

One such conspiracy theory has the base at Diego Garcia – which lies around 700 miles south of Kudahuvadhoo – as a potential landing site for the plane, though Malaysian authorities are said to have dismissed this rumour.

Haveeru today quoted a local aviation expert, who considered it unlikely that a commercial carrier would have been flying over the island at that time.

While some witnesses at first assumed that the flight must have come from Maamagili airport, 55 miles to the north, MACL’s published schedule shows no flights from the airport until 7:20am on Saturdays, with all subsequent flights headed to the capital Malé – north-east of Maamigilli.

Maamigili airport is the hub for the domestic carrier Flyme which operates a fleet of 75ft, 50 seater ATR 42-500 aircraft. The Boeing 777 model of the missing Malaysian jet is around 200 feet long with a carrying capacity in excess of three hundred.

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President Waheed inaugurates Thaa Atoll, Dhaalu Atoll road developments

President Dr Mohamed Waheed yesterday (August 5) inaugurated two separate road development projects on the islands of Vilufushi in Thaa Atoll and Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu Atoll.

Speaking on Vilufushi, Dr Waheed said the projects were part of a nationwide commitment undertaken by his administration to build roads over the last two years. Nine roads were expected to be built in Vilufushi alone, according to the President’s Office website.

President Waheed added that with Vilufushi being one of the islands most severely impacted in the Maldives during the 2004 Asian Tsunami, a greater number of services still needed to be provided to the local population living there.

According to the President’s Office, Dr Waheed also shared specifics of government development plans for the island.

The president’s campaigning has recently come under criticism from rivals standing against him in the upcoming election.

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – part of his current coalition government – has accused Dr Waheed of using state resources to campaign for his own Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) ahead of the upcoming presidential election scheduled for September 7.

PPM Presidential candidate MP Abdulla Yameen back in May said he understood “concerns” raised by MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed regarding President Waheed’s use of state resources for campaigning.

“That is, the way [the government] is doing things, there are problems over whether we could reach free and fair elections. The Auditor General and ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] have taken note of this,” he said at the time.

The PPM has nonetheless pledged to continue supporting President Waheed’s government up until September’s election, despite concerns about the decision to dismiss former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed after he decided to stand as MP Yameen’s running mate.

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PG withdraws charges against two suspects of Ayyube’ murder case, pending review

Lawyers for the Prosecutor General’s Office have withdrawn charges against two suspects arrested in connection with the murder of 76 year-old Ali Hassan, of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu Atoll.

The two suspects were previously identified by the police as Fauzan Mohamed and Ibrahim Majeed of Kudahuvadhoo.

Local media reported that the state attorney had told the Criminal Court the charges were withdrawn for revision, and were to be re-submitted to the court.

The state attorney told the court the police investigation into Fauzan Mohamed and Ibrahim Majeed’s involvement in the murder case was ongoing at the time the trial began in the Criminal Court.

According to the state attorney, police have obtained additional evidence against the suspect and the PG wished to review it and revise the case.

The judge then asked the state attorney to resubmit the case as soon as possible.

Criminal Court Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Manik did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Fauzan Mohamed and Ibrahim Majidh have previously denied the charges against them in the Criminal Court. A case involving Ibrahim Waseem, Ali Hassan’s step-grandson, remains in court.

On March 25, 2013, the first hearing was held into the case and Ibrahim Waseem confessed to being an accessory to murder.

During the hearing Waseem claimed he has been seeking revenge after hearing allegations that Hassan was responsible for the murder of his mother using sorcery.

Waseem was accused of conspiring with Fauzan Mohamed and Ibrahim Majeed, both also from Kudahuvadhoo, of murdering Ali Hassan as he made his way back from maghrib prayers. The defendant admitted to spying on Ali Hassan, but denies direct involvement in the murder.

On January 8 this year, Ali Hassan’s body was discovered with multiple stab wounds in an abandoned house on Kudahuvadhoo.

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

In September 2010, the Juvenile Court obtained statements from Ali Hassan’s heirs. Little is known about the hearing as the Juvenile Court conducts all hearings closed to public and the media.

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President Waheed pledges infrastructure projects for islands of Dhaalu Atoll

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has pledged a number of infrastructure projects next year for several islands during a recent tour of Dhaalu atoll.

The former vice president was accompanied during the trip by Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb as well as Independent MP for Dhaal Meedhoo Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam and Independent MP for Dhaal Kudahuvadhoo Ahmed Amir.

Addressing the people of Meedhoo on Saturday, Waheed pledged a land reclamation project next year to ease congestion, in addition to promising to include funds in the 2013 budget for a football stadium in the island.

Speaking at the rally in Meedhoo, MP Shiyam offered assurances to his constituents that the land reclamation project would commence next year.

Waheed’s tour of Dhaal atoll was reported extensively by the resort magnate’s radio station and affiliated website Sun Online. While the pledges were reported by the online news outlet owned by the resort owner MP, the press briefings on the President’s Office website made no mention of the promised infrastructure projects.

In his visit to the island of Badidhoo in Dhaal atoll, Waheed pledged to include funds in next year’s budget to construct a harbour in the island.

Assuring the people of Badidhoo that the project would commence next year, Waheed also promised that the government would restart a stalled project to construct additional classrooms in the island’s school “in the near future.”

Speaking to the people of Maa’ebudhoo on Sunday, Waheed meanwhile pledged to include funds in next year’s budget for a harbour project for the island.

Waheed also pledged a project to establish a sewerage system in the island but did not specify a date for commencement.

In his visit to Kudahuvadhoo on the same day – which was marked by an anti-government demonstration and the arrest of six protesters – Waheed pledged a land reclamation project for the island “early next year” ahead of the construction of an airport.

Waheed noted that a project for construction of a seawall was ongoing in Kudahuvadhoo and said that the government planned to issue soft loans for construction of houses, arguing that such a policy would be better than the construction of flats or housing units by the government.

“Several youth have obtained land tenures. But they are not able to build houses for long periods of time. The solution to this is not sudden construction of a bunch of flats. That’s not the solution. The real solution is to find ways for people to live, and to help them build houses,” he was quoted as saying.

In his last stop on the tour of Dhaalu atoll, Waheed told the people of Hulhudheli yesterday (Monday, October 29) that he would try to put together a project to establish a sewerage system in the island next year.

He added that the government’s utility company, Fenaka Corporation, would be instructed to upgrade the engine in the island’s powerhouse.

President Waheed and First Lady Madam Ilham Hussain arrived in Male’ in the late afternoon yesterday after concluding his trip.

Upon his return, the President tweeted with a picture of a procession welcoming him to an island: “Just returned from a visit to Dhaal Atoll and Faaf Nilandhoo having spent Eid Al Adh’aa with the people.”

While the President pledged infrastructure projects and told the people of Meedhoo that the economy was “doing fine” and that there was no cause to “worry about the economy being in a slump,” Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told Sun Online that the government was unprepared to meet its recurrent expenditure – including salaries – for the final three months of 2012 without a US$25 million loan promised by the Indian government.

Moreover, addressing the people of Nilandhoo in Faafu atoll – the first stop of the tour – Waheed reportedly said that borrowing large sums of money from foreign parties in order to run the government would not be the policy of his government.

According to Sun Online, “the President said that that his policy is to meet the expenditure of the government with government income. He also said that his priorities are decided on the basis of what is necessary for the country.”

“We are trying to secure sources of income for the nation. I will not try to run the government by securing huge loans from foreign parties. We are trying to spend from what we earn,” Waheed was quoted as saying.

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Juvenile court to use DNA evidence in murder case of alleged sorcerer

The state has been granted the opportunity to use DNA evidence in order to determine the guilt of the third juvenile charged with the murder of 76 year old Ali ‘Ayyubey’ Hassan, reports Haveeru.

Ayyubey was murdered on January 8, suffering multiple stab wounds in an uninhabited house on Kudahuvadhoo island.

It was reported at the time that the victim had been accused of using sorcery on a 37 year-old woman, whose body had been found floating in Kudahuvadhoo lagoon later the month before.

Six people were charged, three of them underage. Of these, two have pleaded guilty whilst the third denies involvement.

An official of the juvenile court has requested one month for the DNA evidence to be testedabroad, reports Haveeru.

Members of Ayyubey’s family have requested the death penalty for those found guilty of the murder.

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Two minors arrested in connection with the murder of ‘sorcerer’ confess to accessory in court

Two minors arrested and charged with the murder of Ali Hassan ‘Ayyube’, 76 of Kudahuvadhoo in Haa Dhaalu pleaded guilty to accessory in court today.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that the two 16 year-olds were charged with spying on Hassan before the murder, and assisting the assailants to hide the weapons they used to murder Hassan.

Another 17 year old boy was also summoned to court today in connection with the case, and charged for involvement in murdering Hassan.

He told the court that he wishes to continue the trial with a lawyer and the judge granted his request.

Last Sunday the step-grandson of Hassan was summoned to the Criminal Court for his involvement in the case.

He told the court that Hassan was murdered because he was informed that Hassan killed the mother of Fauzan Mohamed, a main suspect in the murder, using sorcery.

Hassan’s step-grandson told the court that his part in the murder involved spying on his step-grandfather, and also admitted that he got a long sharp knife because Fauzan told him that he want to cut Hassan’s throat.

On January 8 this year, the body of 76 year-old Ali Hassan was discovered with multiple stab wounds in an abandoned home on Kudahuvadhoo.

On January 31, Police arrested six persons for their alleged involvement in the murder of Hassan.

After Hassan’s body was found on Kudahuvadhoo at about 8:00pm on January 8, a special team from the police’s Serious and Organised Crime Department were dispatched to the island the very same day.

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

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Step-grandson pleads guilty to being accessory in “sorcerer” murder

The step-grandson of an alleged “sorcerer” found dead following an attack on the island of Kudahuvadhoo, Dhaalu Atoll, has confessed to being an accessory to murder as his trial began today at the Criminal Court.

Haveeru reported that Kudahuvadhoo resident Ibrahim Waseem contradicted a previous statement provided to authorities by claiming today that he had sought revenge against Ali Hassan – the defendant’s step-grandfather.  Waseem claimed he has been seeking revenge after hearing allegations that Hassan was responsible for the murder of his mother using sorcery.

On January 8 this year, the body of 76 year-old Ali Hassan was discovered with multiple stab wounds in an abandoned home on Kudahuvadhoo. Waseem stands accused of conspiring with Fauzan Mohamed and Ibrahim Majeed, both also from Kudahuvadhoo, of murdering Ali Hassan as he made his way back from maghrib prayers. The defendant admitted to spying on Ali Hassan, but denies direct involvement in the murder.

According to Haveeru, Waseem declined to be appointed a lawyer during the trail after being made aware of the charges facing him by the presiding State Attorney, Aishath Fazna Ahmed.  After the charges against him were read out, Waseem was reported to have told Judge Abdul Baari Yusuf that they were true, a claim confirmed for a second time after a police statement was also read out to the court.

A statement given by Waseem was read out during the trial to the court claiming that he had been told by Fauzan Mohamed that Ali Hassan has murdered the defendant’s mother using sorcery. The statement continued that Fauzan has requested Waseem’s assistance in murdering his own step-grandfather over the allegations. Waseem claimed to have agreed only to spy upon Hassan as part of the plan.

Local media reported that when asked by the judge if the defendant had any closing remarks during the trial’s first day, Waeeem responded that he hoped for a swift end to the case.

Sorcery case

After Hassan’s body was found on Kudahuvadhoo at about 8:00pm on January 8, a special team from the police’s Serious and Organised Crime Department were dispatched to the island the very same day.

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

Island Council President of Kudahuvadhoo Ibrahim Fikry today told Minivan News following the discovery of Hassan’s body in January that local islanders were all frightened by the incident.

“After the death of the woman the islanders were scared, and then this incident occurred and now the islanders are worse,” he said adding that no one at the time walked on Kudahuvadhoo’s roads after sundown.

“The injuries sustained were horrific,” Fikry told Minivan News at the time, claiming to have seen the body of the man.

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.

An islander from Kudahuvadhoo who spoke to Minivan News after the discovery of Hassan’s body claimed that the victim was “unpopular” in the community for his alleged practice of sorcery.

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

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