Criminal Court acquits six men charged with gang rape of 14 year-old girl

The Criminal Court has acquitted six men charged with the gang rape of a minor, on the grounds that the prosecution was unable to offer sufficient evidence to prove they were guilty.

Abdulla Nazeef of Fuvamulah, Mohamed Shifau of Villimale’, Azim Ali from Dhigurah in Alif Dhaalu, Hoodh Mohamed of Male’ special registry, Inash Abdulla of Gaafu Dhaalu Vaadhoo and Ali Ashraf of Maafannu Athuma were charged with the sexual abuse of a minor by a group.

The Prosecutor General’s Office pressed charges against the six suspects on allegations that on June 5, 2010, they abducted a 14 year-old girl, took her to an abandoned area near the Villimale’ antennae area, and raped the victim.

The Criminal Court stated in its verdict that the state had charged the six men under the Special Provisions for Perpetrators of Child Sex Abuse Act of 2009 but had not produced enough evidence as required by the law to declare a person guilty.

According to local media, the court’s verdict stated that the suspects were acquitted as the state had not presented the required number of witnesses to the incident.

The verdict also stated that all the defendants had denied the charges.

According to local media, two of the accused – Abdulla Nazeef and Mohamed Shifau – are among the suspects charged with the murder of Ahmed Mirza Ibrahim.

In April 2011, Mirza Ibrahim was struck in the head with an iron bar while he was sitting inside a park in Villingili, the ward of Male’ where he lived.

Mirza suffered severe head injuries in the attack and was rushed to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), where he was placed on life support but later declared brain-dead.


Police find more beer cans near Villimale’

Residents of Villimale have alerted police after 52 cans of beer were found washed up on the island, following an operation to recover some 19,200 cans that fell into the sea from a dhoni travelling to Hulhule’ from Male’’s commercial port.

The police were called early on Friday morning by a group of people on Villimale’ after they found the cans near the boat yard on the island.

The Maldives Customs Department recently issued a statement claiming the beer cans found floating near Male’ were being transferred to a bonded warehouse in Hulhule’ from Male’, but said the dhoni carrying the beer cans lost balance and 800 cases fell into the sea.

Customs said the beer cans were a shipment imported to the Maldives for resort business and had cleared the customs examination procedure.

According to the statement, the customs officer who loaded the beer cases onto the dhoni counted the amount of cans that were loaded onto the boat, figured out the amount missing and informed the police immediately.

On Thursday Marine Police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers conducted an operation to collect thousands of the cans found floating in the sea on the west side of Male’.

Possession and consumption of alcohol is illegal outside resort islands and licensed safari boats in the Maldives.


MTCC blames city council for financial losses

The Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) has today announced its intention to take legal action against Male’ City Council (MCC), alleging that negative rumours spread about the company had cost the companies shareholders money.

In a statement, reported by Haveeru, the MTCC refuted the council’s claims that it had to pay MVR 2.6million (US$170,000) in land rent. It further alleged that rumours started by MCC had directly resulted in the halting of its MVR 213.6 million (US$14 million) project to develop a lot close to Villimale’ ferry terminal.

The company also stated that, contrary to warnings received from the MCC, the council did not have the authority to find an alternative provider for ferry services in the greater Male’ area.

In today’s statement, the MTCC argued that the services it was providing were in accordance with the agreement signed with the government. It stressed that it had made efforts to improve the service without raising prices in line with hikes in the local Goods and Services Tax (GST).

The company was forced to reconsider raising fares last September after large protests outside the Villimale’ terminal. In June, it was revealed that the MTCC had made a  loss of Rf 89 million (US$5.7 million) in 2011.


Premature baby found in Coast Milk tin on Villingili

The corpse of a premature baby boy was discovered yesterday inside a Coast Milk tin on the island of Villingli, the second abandoned infant found in as many weeks.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the dead child, believed by forensic examiners to have been born three months premature, was discovered in the discarded container near the powerhouse area of the island.

The baby was taken to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ for forensic examination before being buried, according to the police.

On May 5 a dead infant was been found in a plastic bag in the swimming track area of Male’. A medical examination later concluded that the baby’s had sustained cuts, bruises and other wounds.

Shiyam said that yesterday’s discovery of the dead infant on Villingli was not believed by police to reflect an escalating problem in the country concerning child abandonment or abortion.  However,  he said police did have serious concerns about the health implications for mothers of these abandoned children.

“Although we know this [abandonment] is happening, it is not something we believe is a growing issue. However, we request the public not support people who are thinking of abandoning a baby,” he said. “We are very concerned about the health of the mothers of these children, who are not receiving proper medical treatment or the drugs they may require for recovery.”

Police added that they had not yet made any arrests in connection with the discovery of either body and asked for members of the public with any possible information about the case to come forward.

In November last year another abandoned newborn was discovered alive in some bushes near the Wataniya telecommunications tower in Hulhumale’.

Abortion is illegal in the Maldives except to save a mother’s life, or if a child suffers from a congenital defect such as thalassemia. Several studies on HIV in the Maldives have identified risk factors including high levels of promiscuity and little use of contraception, and anecdotal evidence points overwhelmingly to a high rate of abortion.

In an article on the subject in 2009, Minivan News reported that many women unable to travel to Sri Lanka resort to illegal abortions performed by unskilled individuals in unhygienic settings.

Abortion-inducing pills and injections administered by amateur abortionists are one recourse while others turn to harmful vaginal preparations, containing chemicals such as bleach or kerosene. Although infrequent, some insert objects into their uterus or induce abdominal trauma, such is the stigma of having a child out of wedlock.