The quad-bike involved in the crash on Kuredu Island Resort, which claimed the lives of British honeymooners Emma and Jonathan Gray, was legally registered to the resort as a tractor according to registration documents obtained by Minivan News today.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik had previously alleged during an emergency motion in parliament last week that the King Quad 700 vehicle was not legally registered with the Maldives Transport Authority, and that the driver, 23 year-old Swedish national Filip Eugen Petre, was not licensed to operate it.
Opposition MPs accused Manik of indulging a personal vendetta against the resort’s owner, Champa ‘Uchoo’ Mohamed Moosa, in retaliation for coverage by Champa’s private DhiTV station of an incident last year in which 168 bottles of alcohol were found in Manik’s car while he was outside the country.
Manik further alleged in parliament that attempts were made to “to hide the boy [Petre] and put the blame [for the accident] on a Maldivian employee in the resort.”
When Minivan News contacted Manik today, he maintained that he had been informed by a person working on the resort that the vehicle was unregistered. He also claimed that foreigners who wished to drive in the Maldives were required to register with the Ministry of Transport.
“I have been watching that island for a long time and they are doing a lot of illegal things,” he alleged. “I am bringing this up in the national interest, not because of Champa. I don’t want this to happen on another resort otherwise it will affect the industry.”
Following widespread media coverage of Manik’s claims in parliament Jonathan’s mother, Cath Davies, called for a full inquiry into the accident “as somebody, somewhere, is responsible for having allowed that quad to be on the island, and those keys to be available to the young man who was unlicensed and unregistered.”
According to registration papers obtained by Minivan News, the 172 kilogram Suzuki 2007 King Quad 700 4X4 was imported on May 5 2007 and registered on August 2 the same year.
Minivan News also obtained a copy of Petre’s Swedish category B driving license, which would in Sweden, the UK and many other European countries, legally allow the operation of a four-wheeled motorcycle as well as a car.
According to Police Inspector Mohamed Riyaz, who is leading the investigation into the Kuredu accident, under Maldivian law foreign nationals with a valid overseas license are also able to drive in the country for a period of up to 90 days without a local license.
Riyaz said police were in the process of determining whether the quad-bike had been appropriately registered. He confirmed that the vehicle had been registered as a tractor under the ‘C1′ category “used for vehicles transporting goods, not passengers.”
“If it had been properly registered it would be under the A1 category and the driver would require a motorcycle license, as it has a fuel engine and is a very powerful 700cc,” he said.
He also noted that the vehicle was not designed to carry passengers other than the driver, and carried a warning to that effect.
Filip Petre was seriously injured in the accident and remains in hospital in Male’, following the confiscation of his passport on the order of the Criminal Court. Inspector Riyaz said that an application for Petre to be taken abroad for further medical treatment three days ago had been declined, “as police believed that based on the medical report there was no imminent threat to his life.”
Inspector Riyaz said Petre’s family had approached the court to appeal the decision, and added that police were open to his treatment overseas if medical opinion was that urgent diagnosis was necessary.
In a statement to Minivan News, Filip’s father Lars Petre, a shareholder in the resort, 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 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.
“The quad bike which my son was driving was registered and my son Filip is licensed to drive such vehicles. My son Filip and his brother Tom (who was the first to arrive at the scene of the accident with the doctor), the management and staff of Kuredhu have been cooperating with the police investigation fully, and I give every assurance that they will continue to do so in the future.
“We understand the grief of the families who lost their loved ones in the accident, and we also respect the duty of the Maldives Police Service to investigate the matter. However the fact remains that what happened on August 6 is an accident, a very tragic fatal event, which my son no anyone else had the power to change.
“I wish to assure to the families of the deceased, the media and the public that there was absolutely no ill intention whatsoever in this accident. While my son and the staff of Kuredhu are shattered with the result of the accident, we remain helpless to change anything that has happened.
“The management of Kuredhu will do whatever is possible to corporate with the investigation and to avoid further distress for all families concerned.”