The Criminal Court sentence (Dhivehi) read that Niyaz was proven guilty based on his confession to investigators and his refusal to defend himself from the evidence provided to the court by the prosecutors.
Niyaz voluntarily handed himself over to the local police department after fatally stabbing Shiham in what the police have described as an act of vengeance after Shiham accused Niyaz of stealing from a construction site under the supervision of the victim.
The sentence was issued after Shiham’s four heirs – his wife, two children and grandmother – demanded qisas at the court. The decision of children was made by Shiham’s wife.
While speaking to the press at the time, Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh said that Niyaz had been arrested 10 times previously for theft and drug-related crimes.
The government has made moves this year to end the country’s 60-year moratorium on the death penalty, introducing regulations in April to oversee the process.
While speaking at a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) rally this month, President Abdulla Yameen reiterated the government’s resolve to implement the death penalty for the sake of human rights and dignity.
“I want to say tonight as well in your presence, this government will have no mercy at all for those who slaughter Maldivian citizens with no mercy,” said Yameen at the ‘Successful 365 Days’ event held in Malé on November 21.
Home Minister Umar Naseer said in April that death penalty can be implemented in Maldives from April 27 after the procedural regulations were published on the government’s gazette on that day.
“We are not one to shy away from implementing the death penalty by showing various excuses. Nothing will stop us from implementing the death penalty as planned,” said Naseer told the media.
The last person executed in the Maldives was Hakim Didi, found guilty of practicing black magic in 1953. The common practice has since been for the president to commute all death sentences to life imprisonment through powers vested in him by Clemency Act.
With the new regulation, the president will no longer have this authority if a person is sentenced to death for murder by the Supreme Court.
The decision to re-implement the death penalty has received a mixed response at home and abroad, with some questioning the current state of the judiciary, while others claimed that the Islamic Sharia dictates a willful murderer should be put to death if there is sufficient evidence.
The chief suspect arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a 35-year-old man on the island of Thulusdhoo in Kaafu atoll has confessed to murdering the victim in an act of revenge, Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh told the press yesterday.
Mohamed Niyaz, 34, confessed to investigators that the victim, Ali Shiham, had accused him of stealing from a construction site under the latter’s supervision, Satheeh explained.
Satheeh noted that Niyaz had previously been arrested 10 times in relation to theft and drug abuse offences.
Niyaz had voluntarily submitted to police on the night of the murder. Satheeh said police have wrapped up the investigation and forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Briefing press on the fatal stabbing of an 18-year-old man in Malé on August 2, Satheeh said that the victim – Mohamed Mazin, of Dhiggamaage in Noonu Miladhoo – had no connection to gangs in the capital.
On July 28, an Israeli surfer on Thulusdhoo Island vandalised a protest placard featuring a swastika alongside an Israeli flag.
Within hours, an estimated 30 protesters from Malé travelled to the island to call for the expulsion of all Israeli tourists. The new arrivals were temporarily detained while the police evacuated 30 Israelis along with 4 tourists of other nationalities.
The incident has left several guest houses on Thulusdhoo empty and caused the cancellation of bookings, while nearby resorts have called off excursions.
Thulusdhoo, only 40 minutes away from Malé, is home to one of the country’s top surf breaks and – although Israeli arrivals amount to a small fraction (3,253) of the 1 million-plus tourist arrivals in Maldives each year – Thulusdhoo’s nine guest houses rely heavily on Israeli surf tourism.
“Business will be down for the next three months. If incidents like this occur in the future, guest house tourism will suffer a lot of damage,” said Mohamed Hashim, who runs Batuta Maldives Surf View on Thulusdhoo.
Anti Israeli sentiment has been growing in the Maldives since the onset of the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The Maldives has announced plans to boycott Israeli imports, thousands have marched in solidarity with Palestine, and over MVR5 million has been donated to a humanitarian fund for Gaza.
Maldives luxury resorts – with one hotel on one island – are shielded from the local citizenry and society but they have offered islanders little benefit from its multi-billion dollar profits. Local tourism, on the other hand – while it offers hope of greater wealth distribution – is particularly vulnerable to unrest within the community.
Vigilante action of the sort seen on Thulusdhoo could pose serious risks for this emerging sector.
Interviews with protesters reveal that they had demanded police escort guests off the island through the protesting crowd in order to show tourists “they cannot provoke us”.
One man claimed the Israeli tourists were soldiers and described their actions as condescending. He further claimed the tourists had told locals, “We are Israelis. You cannot do anything to us.”
Condemning the police’s detention of the protesters while guests were evacuated, he said the police had treated the locals “worse than the Jews.” Israeli tourists must face the protesting locals, he argued, claiming even US President Barack Obama had gone to places where shoes had been thrown at him.
“This is a slap to Maldivian Muslim faces. After harming Muslims in that country, they come here, to a Muslim country, stay in a Muslim community and slap us in the face.”
“They have given Maldivians a warning. Just as they are killing children there, tomorrow they will kill your children,” he continued.
Another man said, “They cannot come to the Maldives on that passport. This is a 100 percent Muslim nation. Jew, Christian dogs cannot come into this country.”
Thulusdhoo Island Council President Ahmed Anees has denied the claim of confrontations between protesters and guests, saying that the community had in fact resolved the issue before those journeying from Malé arrived.
Batuta manager Hashim said that, though he did not believe that any of the protesters would have physically harmed guests, guest house owners could not agree to demands for guests to be escorted through the irate crowd.
“Escorting guests off through a crowd opens up opportunity for danger, for example someone in the crowd throwing a stone. We didn’t allow them the opportunity,” he said.
Rumors on social media and irresponsible media coverage had caused the situation to escalate, he said.
“Just as insults to our Prophet Mohamed riles us up, the swastika riles them up. It represents the Holocaust in which millions of Jews died. The guest shouldn’t have vandalised the placard. I do not support their actions. The boards were taken down. The issue was resolved,” he continued.
Protesters have gone on to hold a series of nightly demonstrations in Malé, calling for a ban on tourists from Israel. The Israeli and American flags were burned in front on Relax Inn and Mookai Hotel in Malé on Thursday.
Hashim said he did not see how banning Israeli tourists could have an economic impact on Israel.
“A ban on imports from Israel can cause an economic impact, but banning Israeli tourism is not that important. It affects our economy, not theirs,” he said.
Israeli citizen and tour operator Tom Niv – present on Thulusdhoo during the incident – described the evacuation as “heartbreaking.”
“I am fully against ugly behavior. When ugly behavior occurs, whether it’s from Israelis or locals, the police should get involved. As a travel agent, I am not accepting any kind of unwelcome behavior. We are guests in this country and we should respect rules.”
Thulusdhoo is “no longer safe for us,” Niv continued. “That a few extremists can impact a whole nation is crazy.”
Both Niv and Hashim maintained that Thulusdhoo was tourist friendly up until the evacuation.
“The guests mixed with the locals, frequented local businesses such as souvenir shops and went fishing on local boats,” Hashim said.
“There was a really good vibe, even clients posted on social media, look these are Muslims, we are Jews, see how good friends we are and see how much fun we have together,” Niv said.
“Almost everyone who came to Thulusdhoo got really connected with the locals. They weren’t like in resorts, like servants. It was not about money or tips. They really became good friends.”
Anees said residents continue to welcome tourists of any nationality, though he admitted he was now apprehensive of having Israeli tourists on Thulusdhoo.
Hashim fears businesses might now be wary of investing in Thulusdhoo in the future.
“Any act that may harm tourism worries us. Tourism is a very vulnerable industry. Burning flags in front of hotels in Malé and calling for tourism bans will scare off tourists,” he added.
Deputy Minister of Tourism Hussein Lirar said the safety of tourists is the government’s first priority, and that it is holding discussions on preventing similar incidents in the future.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Home Affairs are in the process of establishing Tourist Police to deal specifically with tourist affairs.
“This is quite important as the number of tourists coming to Malé is also increasing,” he said.
For Niv, the evacuation will have far-reaching consequences for guest house tourism in the Maldives.
“Israelis are not the only one who went away, Australians, French – not too many – but they will tell their friends that local islands are not safe anymore.”
“Now it is against Israel. But tomorrow it could be against Europeans or against Americans. It shows what can happen in certain conditions. This will definitely damage tourism in local islands and tourism in general,” said Niv.
Demands for a ban on tourists from any country should be directed at the government, while disagreements with any state’s actions ought not to translate into direct threats against tourists.
The incidents on Thulusdhoo reveal the risks radicals could have on guest house tourism. Local disputes over the actions of an Israeli – or a tourist of any nationality – should be taken up with police and local government.
Failure to do so could cause irreparable harm to the guest house sector.
A 35-year-old man has been stabbed to death on Kaafu Atoll Thulusdhoo Island.
Local media has identified the man as Ali Shiham of Thaa Atoll Kimbidhoo Island. The father of two is married to a Thulusdhoo woman.
According to the Island Council President Ahmed Anees the attack occurred tonight at 7:00 pm near Shiham’s house. He died from his wounds at the Thulusdhoo health center.
One man has been arrested in connection with the murder, the Maldives Police Services have said. The man handed himself in voluntarily and confessed to the murder.
The police have declined to reveal further details.
Vnews have identified the suspect to be a Thulusdhoo man called Niyaz. Citing sources from the island, Vnews said the suspect has a previous record of theft, assault and drug abuse.
A large crowd has gathered at the police station calling on the police to hand the suspect over. “Things are quite heated up here,” Anees said.
According to Vnews, Shiham had broken his fast was smoking a cigarette on the beach near his residence when he was attacked.
There have been 29 murders recorded in the Maldives since 2007.
On Monday, 34 tourists were evacuated from the island after a group of protestors from Malé arrived on the island to call for the expulsion of Israeli tourists after a guest destroyed an anti – Israeli sign.
The sign featured a swastika alongside the Israeli flag in protest of the war in Gaza.
Thulusdhoo – just forty minutes from Malé – is home to one of the countries’ top surf breaks, with a majority of bookings coming from Israeli surfers.
It is too early to say whether there is any connection between the protest and the stabbing, police said.
The first incident took place near the Eid Mosque in Maafannu ward around 7:40pm. Muggers attacked a pedestrian from the back and demanded he hand over his mobile phone. The man was hit on the back of his head, police said.
Minutes later at 7:45pm, two men were attacked in Malé’s suburb Hulhumalé Island near Flat no. 60. One of the men was stabbed in the shoulder and the other was stabbed in his head, the police said.
At 8pm, two masked men on motorbikes stabbed a 23-year-old woman in the back in front of a known gang hangout at the junction of Kalhuhuraa Magu and Husnuheena Magu in Malé. The ADK Hospital in Malé said the woman had suffered serious injuries.
An 18-year-old was also stabbed in the back in Heinveiru ward of Malé at 8:40pm on Monday.
Security services evacuated 34 tourists from Kaafu Thulusdhoo Island following unrest after an Israeli tourist destroyed an anti-Israel placard yesterday (July 28).
Thirty Israeli tourists, and four of other nationalities, agreed to be evacuated last night after police intelligence revealed that more protesters were travelling to the island to join those calling for the guests’ removal.
Managing Director of the Batuta Maldives Surf View Mohamed Hashim said the incident occurred outside his guest house, after an Israeli surfer took down a placard featuring a swastika alongside the Israeli flag and snapped it in two.
Anti-Israeli sentiment has been growing in the Maldives as the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestinians continues to result in heavy civilian casualties in Gaza.
As news of yesterday’s incident spread locals became agitated, explained Hashim, who subsequently informed Island Council President Ahmed Anees. Anees then contacted the police.
Around 30 additional protesters subsequently travelled to Thulusdhoo from Malé and were detained upon arrival, said Anees, being kept at the local station and the island’s social centre.
“Police intelligence said that more were coming from Malé,” explained Anees. “They said it was the best thing that they leave for the night.”
A police spokesperson has said that they provided assistance to the Thulusdhoo Island Council and the Ministry of Tourism, although they declined to give further details.
Neither Anees nor Hashim were certain of the guests’ current whereabouts while officials from the tourism ministry were not responding to calls at the time of publication.
Anees explained that 10 tourists – all non Israelis remained in – the island, while those protesters detained by police were released after the Israeli tourists’ evacuation at midnight yesterday.
Thulusdhoo guest houses
Nine guesthouses have been registered in Thulusdhoo since the relaxation of guest house policy in an industry still dominated by the high end one island/one resort model.
The island – just forty minutes from Malé – is home to one of the countries’ top surf breaks, with a majority of bookings coming from Israeli surfers, explained Council President Anees.
“This is a big loss for us because most of the people depend on guest houses,” he explained, pointing out that this type of incident was unprecedented on the island.
“It is a calm island. Only a few people were involved in this thing,” he explained, suggesting that the unrest had been fomented by outsiders from Malé.
Guest house manager Hashim – who lost all 8 of his guests last night – also suggested that the incident may have been due to the large number of non-locals present on the island for the Eid holiday.
“There have been no problems since we opened two years ago. Tourists are always very friendly with locals,” said Hashim who noted that around 60 percent of his bookings came from Israelis.
“It is a big blow for our business. There are three months of surfing left. I don’t know what we will do now.”
Israeli tourists represent only a small fraction of tourist arrivals to the Maldives, making up just 0.3 percent of the more than one million people who visited the country in 2013.
The incident in Thulusdhoo was followed by small but vocal protests in the capital Malé during which protesters burned the Israeli flag.
Maldivians have been increasingly active in their calls for an end to the bloodshed in Gaza, with an estimated 13,000 marching through the capital Malé in solidarity with Palestinians earlier this month. Smaller demonstrations were held throughout the country.
Last week the government announced a boycott – admittedly symbolic – of Israeli products and the annulment of all cooperation agreements signed since the resumption of diplomatic ties in 2009.
“I do not think Maldivians want any help from Israel or want to keep up relations with Israel,” said Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon who has described recent attacks on UN shelters in Gaza as “cowardly and shameful”.
During last week’s meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, the Maldives joined 28 other member states in calling for an independent inquiry into Israel’s violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in Palestine.
Maldivian citizens have also donated over MVR2million (US$130,000) to the Gaza Fund which will be distributed via the Qatari Red Crescent after August 17.
This confusion was typified by Drug Court Judge Mahaz Ali, who expressed his disagreement with the government’s suggestion that a ‘state of necessity’ existed, enabling the most senior state prosecutor to assume the office’s responsibilities.
Further examination into a large crack in the Meedhoo Island reef will be required as experts admitted that the long-term effects of the 13 metre fissure were unknown.
The discovery was made amid a mammoth 20 hectare reclamation project on the island conducted by Boskalis International. The Dutch company – currently conducting numerous projects in the country – came under this fire week for what local NGOs have called “environmental crimes” during its recent dredging activities.
The accusations did not stop authorities mooting Boskalis as the likely partner for the government’s second reclamation phase of the Hulhumalé development project.
Speaking at the launch of another Boskalis project in Thulusdhoo, President Abdulla Yameen urged the Anti-Corruption Commission to expedite stalled cases concerning infrastructure projects.
Reclamation projects could take on a new urgency should this week’s prediction from climate change experts prove true, as it was revealed that the collapse of antarctic glaciers has the potential to increase sea levels by 1.2 metres in coming centuries.
Pessimism regarding the buoyancy of the country’s democracy was evident in Transparency Maldives ‘Democracy at Crossroads’ survey this week which revealed extraordinarily high levels of cynicism within the electorate.
Visiting football fans who take a liking to the country’s southernmost atoll will soon be able to return to stay in one of the 2000 guesthouse bedsthat Addu City Council aims to develop via its Guesthouse Tourism Promotion Board.
President Abdulla Yameen has urged the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to expedite investigations involving infrastructure projects worth “hundreds of millions of rufiyaa” as the government is facing losses due to delays.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for a land reclamation project in the island of Thulusdhoo in Kaafu atoll this morning, President Yameen appealed to the ACC to complete investigations as soon as possible in order to enable the government to resume projects halted at the commission’s orders.
“When these big projects are halted, the preliminary investigation or assessment should be completed within a certain period,” he said.
“For example, if work on the IGMH [Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital] building is stopped more than once because of problems involving corruption, it is our request for the Anti-Corruption Commission to do it in a way that does not [stall the project].”
He added that the new building was necessary for the government to provide better services from the main tertiary hospital in the capital.
“Doubtless there might be matters that could facilitate corruption in that project. But that is not something our government would encourage or do,” he said.
If the commission suspected corruption, Yameen said that his administration would comply with ACC instructions to halt projects pending an investigation and welcome the findings.
Yameen stressed the importance of the commission’s determining a “timeline” for investigations.
The ACC has told the state broadcaster, however, that the commission has always endeavoured to complete investigations as quickly as possible in order to avoid losses to the public and the government.
The commission noted that recurring problems hindering investigations included having to provide a legally-mandated period for accused parties to respond to allegations after seeking legal counsel, as well as difficulties in obtaining relevant documents from state institutions.
The commission also insisted that it has always shown a way to continue with halted projects, which was also the case with the new IGMH building.
In March, the ACC ordered a halt to the construction of the new IGMH building by Amin Construction Pvt Ltd for a second time following complaints alleging that the renegotiated contract was MVR16 million in excess of the budgeted amount.
President Yameen has meanwhile said that his administration would not pursue corruption investigations against officials of the previous government.
He added, however that the government would not interfere with the work of the auditor general or the ACC.
On the project launched today to reclaim 33 hectares of land in Thulusdhoo, Yameen noted that island would double in size at the completion of the project.
“We are creating an asset. An asset is something you have to make full use of. If not, it could be lost and become worthless,” he said.
The new land would create economic opportunities and allow the government to provide housing for residents of Thulusdhoo, he said.
Projects for the construction of a harbour as well as water and sewerage in Thulusdhoo will begin this year, the president pledged.
Yameen also reiterated his call to both the public and local councils to put aside political differences and cooperate with the government’s implementation of development projects.
The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s Thulusdhoo branch has released a statement to the media claiming that supporters of the DRP in Thulusdhoo will “shift sides” if the internal split in the party continues.
‘’We call on former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and DRP Zaeem (honorary leader) to solve the internal dispute within the party,’’ read the statement,signed by the Deputy Head of Thulusdhoo Branch.
The statement acknowledged that DRP supporters were “in turmoil and deeply confused due to the split” and warned that those supporters in Thulusdhoo might have to change sides if the dispute remained unresolved.
‘’The citizens can no longer tolerate watching members leave the party,’’ the DRP branch stated, in reference to the recent defections of several DRP MPs to the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), including Ali Waheed Abdulla Abdu-Raheem. ‘’Consequently it will the ordinary citizens living in the islands that will suffer, due to the unrest and loss of members.’’
The branch added ‘’that as Maumoon was the person who introduced democracy to the Maldives, who led the Maldives for 30 prosperous years and is a person who lives in a democracy, we call on Maumoon to solve the dispute between the leadership democratically.’’
Thulusdhoo is an island with a majority of DRP supporters who voted for the party in the recent local council elections.
Since then, the party has been split after ‘honorary’ leader Gayoom clashed with the party’s leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali over the dismissal of former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer. Gayoom’s supporters have since created a splinter faction they call the Z-DRP, in a move that prompted the defection of several MPs previously loyal to Thasmeen.
DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said the statement issued by Thulusdhoo’s DRP branch showed that the remaining supporters in the party wished it to be unified.
‘’To do that firstly, everyone in the party must fully respect the party’s charter,’’ Dr Mausoom said. ‘’There are different ways people express concern – some put more effort to solve the dispute, while others leave the party in frustration.’’
He said to uphold democracy in this country a strong, responsible opposition party was needed.
‘’The entire nation believes that the DRP is an opposition party which has to be there to uphold democracy,’’ he said. ‘’Although there are some internal disputes, we will solve them hopefully and by God’s will we will win the 2013 Presidential Elections under Thasmeen’s leadership.’’
Z-DRP spokesperson Ahmed Nihan was unavailable at time of press.
Attorney General, Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, has told Minivan News that a Supreme Court verdict overruling “contradicting” court orders issued by island courts over the relocation of some Atoll Council offices did not mean that the issue was as yet resolved.
”It [the Supreme Court decision] is a different ruling because two courts of the same level have issued two different court orders on the same issue,” said Dr Sawad. ”The real issue over the legality of the relocations still needs to be addressed within the Thulusdhoo Island Court and Shaviyani Funadhoo Island court.”
The Supreme Court of the Maldives has recently invalidated court warrants issued by the Kaafu Atoll Maafushi Island Court and Shaviyani Atoll Milandhoo Island Court that were deemed to have contradicted earlier rulings by local magistrates over the location of council offices.
This court actions occurred this week as the government come into conflict with members of Shaviyani Atoll and Kaafu Atoll councils over the decision to move their administrative offices to different locations. The government has claimed that the decisions were not within the legal powers of councilors.
The Atoll Councilors of Shaviyani Atoll moved from their Administrative Office in Milandhoo to a building in Funadhoo, which was formerly used as Atoll Office of Shaviyani Atoll. Kaafu Atoll Councilors moved from an assigned Atoll Office in Maafushi to a building in Thulusdhoo, which was also formerly used as the Atoll Office of Kaafu Atoll.
The government opposed these actions, sending police to the islands over concerns that the buildings were its own assets and needed protection.
The case was then brought in front of Funadhoo Magistrates Court, which ruled that the Administrative Office should be located in Funadhoo. This occurred two days before the Milandhoo Magistrate ruled that Administrative Office shall be in Milandhoo.
Likewise in Thulusdhoo, the island court of Thulusdhoo ruled that the Administrative Office shall be in Thulusdhoo, before the Maafushi Island Court ruled in favor of retaining the Administrative Office in Maafushi.
The Supreme Court said that after one court has ruled on a case, another legal institution of the same level had no authority to overturn that ruling. This made the later rulings invalid according to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the High Court also concluded that there was no capacity for an appeal requested by the Attorney General to rule that the court order of Thulusdhoo Court.
The High Court said that there was no reason to believe that the actions of Thulushoo Court were against the law or correct procedures.
Recently Shaviyani Atoll Council’s Vice President Mohamed Arif has said the best way to solve the issue was by handing over the case to a higher court of law, ”as it is a legal issue.”
The Home Minister also told media this week that the government would let the country’s higher-level courts decide the matter.