Lale Youth International School principal denies assault charges

Former principal of Lale Youth International School, Serkan Akar, appeared in the criminal court yesterday and denied assault and battery charges made against him made by the Prosecutor General’s office.

In the court hearing, Akar denied the accusations and said charges against him were baseless, which included strangling and whipping a child with a belt. The charge sheet noted that two employees witnessed the shoving and heard the child being whipped, during the incident last Ramazan.

Akar’s defense lawyer Abdulla Shair told the judge the charges had many issues, such as no mention of a specific date on which the incident took place.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem said the PG had asked the court to summon the two witnesses.

The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) is currently compiling a case concerning abuse and other activities at Lale, which were reported by Minivan News last month. Akar has since tried to leave the country twice but was detained by immigration officials, who confiscated his passport.

President of HRCM Ahmed Saleem told Minivan News the Lale case was “very strange” and a “high priority” for the commission. A press conference concerning findings on the matter is imminent, Minivan News has been told.

The acting principal of the school Suleyman Atayev has told Minivan News that he is confident any allegations against the principal will be proven false.

Atayev was also critical of HRCM’s investigation: “They are refusing to tell us the nature of the complaints they are investigating. They are supposed be about human rights but they are not respecting ours.”

The Criminal Court of the Maldives had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.


DRP ‘gate shaking’ case sent to Prosecutor General

Police have sent a case concerning the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)-led protest outside MNDF headquarters in January to the Prosecutor General’s office, following investigation.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the case involved “some DRP members.” DRP Vice Presidents Umar Naseer and Ali Waheed have previously been summoned by police for questioning over the issue.

”It’s unauthorized to gather near the Maldives National Defense Force headquarters,” Shiyam said. “[The protesters] split police forces and shook the main gatesof MNDF,” he explained.

He said the case sent to the PG included “everyone in connection with the case.”

The PG’s office confirmed the case had been received but PG Ahmed Muiz would not give further details to Minivan News.

DRP leader and MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said the purpose of trying to prosecute DRP protesters was that they “had been trying to make the government responsible and remind them of their pledges”, and that the prosecution was an attempt “to escape from the unfulfilled pledges made to the people.”

Thasmeen noted that it was also unauthorized to gather and protest near the parliament.

”I have seen people with loudspeakers and microphones near the parliament,” Thasmeen said, ”Why isn’t the government investigating and prosecuting them?”

He said he was surprised that the senior officials of the government had told the people the government was a democracy, but were now trying to arrest protesters.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Shifaz said that he would describe the riot as an act of ”terrorism”

Shifaz said trying to enter a country’s defense force base was “a very serious case”, and that the people involved in it should be prosecuted.

”MNDF have the authority to use weapons when that happens,” he said. ”They did not do it.”

He said whether or not someone was an MP, nobody was above the law.

”A penalty should be given for the people who were involved in the incident,” he said.


PG’s office sends corruption cases back to Auditor General’s office

The Prosecutor General’s office has returned cases against former government ministers forwarded several weeks ago by former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem.

Naeem claimed that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, together with many of his cabinet ministers and several members of the current government, had failed to declare details of their financial assets as required by the Constitution.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said the cases was returned to the Auditor General’s Office “because they were not investigated sufficiently.”

Shameem said they should have been “properly investigated” by the Auditor General’s Office before being sent to the PG’s Office.

“People who were named in this report were not asked to submit their forms,” Shameem said. “[In addition] they were not informed about the criminal charges. It is unfair they had to hear about it from the media.”

He said the PG’s Office believed “they should be given an opportunity” to declare their assets and to further investigate the claims.

He added that the cases have not been dropped by his office, and “if they are sent back, we will proceed.”

Assistant Executive Director and interim head of the Auditor General’s office Mohamed Hussein said he could not give any information about the case.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the former Auditor General “did not make up this case on his own or without collecting information. He would have sent these cases to the PG after working with a team.”

Zuhair said parliament’s no-confidence decision on Naeem did not mean that the whole Audit office was corrupt.