President Dr Mohamed Waheed has commuted the sentences of 35 convicts under authority granted by the Clemency Act of 2009 and approved a lump sum payment of three months’ wages for cabinet ministers.
President Waheed exercised the executive power on the last official working day of his administration before the end of the current presidential term on Monday, November 11.
The President’s Office revealed in a statement that Waheed had commuted the sentences of persons banished, serving jail sentences or under house arrest “with conditions.”
Details of the convicts, the conditions and the reduced sentences were not disclosed.
President Waheed considered “age, illness, nature of medical treatment, time and circumstance, behaviour and conduct, or a compassionate view,” the President’s Office stated.
Persons convicted of murder, a crime with a punishment (hadd) prescribed in Islamic Shariah, terrorism, child sexual abuse, sexual assault or rape, and homosexuality were not included among the 35 convicts, the President’s Office claimed.
Under the law passed in 2009, prisoners who have completed one-third of their sentences and exhausted all avenues of appeal are eligible to apply for clemency.
Local media meanwhile reported that President Waheed has also decided to provide a lump sum payment of three months’ salaries and allowances for cabinet ministers.
While the proposal was made at the last cabinet meeting, a decision was not finalised last week.
As ministers earn MVR57,500 (US$3,729) a month, the lump sum payments would amount to MVR2 million (US$129,702) for the 12 ministers presently in the cabinet.
Local media has also reported that the government signed an agreement on Wednesday (November 6) to hand over the Kaadehdhoo airport in Gaaf Dhaal atoll to Villa Air, owned by business tycoon and Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim, for a 50-year period.
Transport Minister Ibrahim Ameen, who signed on behalf of the government, is a senior member of the JP representing the party in the coalition government.
Former Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed – filling a JP slot in cabinet at the time – was sacked in November 2012 after extending the lease of the privately-owned airport in Maamigili for 99 years. Despite the dismissal, the decision was not reversed and Shamheed was replaced by Ameen.
In February this year, the Anti-Corruption Commission began investigating the lease extension of the airport operated by Gasim’s Villa Shipping and Trading.
In March, Dr Shamheed told Minivan News that President Waheed wanted “credit” for extending the Maamigili airport lease.
The media reports today also revealed that an agreement was signed with Island Aviation to hand over the Ka’dhoo airport in Laamu atoll, while agreements were signed with Reol Investment and Millenium Capital Management to build and operate airports in Dhaal Kudahuvadhoo and Noonu Maafaru, respectively.
The companies were given uninhabited islands as an airport subsidy – Noonu Kummala and Raa Ufulandhoo to Millenium and Dhaal Hiriyafushi and Kadimma to Reol – to be developed as resorts.