Police confirm island councillor charged over sexual abuse allegations

The Maldives Police Service has confirmed that an individual recently appointed to serve on the island council of Vaikaradhoo in Haa Dhaal atoll had been arrested on suspicion of sexually molesting a 14 year-old minor.

A police spokesperson confirmed to Minivan News that the arrest of a councillor serving on the island had taken place, but was unable to give any details on the suspect’s identity.

Local press have speculated on the identity of the suspect, who they claim had been identified by sources within the police as a councillor representing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). If convicted, the Elections Commission (EC) has confirmed that the suspect would be stripped of the councillor position that was appointed during last month’s local council elections.

Elections Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq said that standard procedure in the case of criminal convictions within the recently formed local councils would be that the Local Government Authority (LGA), which oversees devolved government in the country, would have to inform the EC of any serving members found guilty of a crime.

“There are conditions of candidacy, where if a person [serving on an elected council] is convicted of committing a crime they would be ineligible for office for a period of time,” he said.

Thaufeeq stressed that in the case of serious crimes like sexual abuse, there would be “no chance” that any convicted candidate would be eligible for election ever again.

“As it stands, [the criminal conviction of a serving councillor] will require a separate election to be held for their vacant seat,” he added.