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Mendhuru Online issues apology for misinformation on safari assault case

Shahudha Mohamed
23 July 2020, MVT 13:46
Protestors gather demanding system reforms and establish justice for victims of sexual offences, fueled by a string of high-profile sexual abuse cases, including the assault of a Kenyan woman aboard a safari docked at Hulhumale' lagoon. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
23 July 2020, MVT 13:46

Local media outlet Mendhuru Online, on Wednesday night, issued an apology over misinformation in the article published by the outlet on June 26, narrating the story of the Kenyan woman who was sexually assaulted aboard a safari docked at Hulhumale' lagoon.

Noting that the article has now been removed from their website, Mendhuru Online apologised to the victim, all persons related to the incident and the general public.

The media outlet further assured that Mendhuru Online will provide full cooperation to the authorities regarding the matter, and will improve the procedure of disseminating information to the public in the future.

According to Mendhuru Online, recent discoveries have confirmed that the incident aboard the safari was not a rape.

The outlet further added that their source exaggerated the matter as a rape case, with the intention of politicising the incident, as the suspects of the case are linked to high ranking officials of the government.

Throughout Mendhuru Online's article on the victim's encounter, the media outlet had reiterated that they were reporting directly from the victim. The news media had also made a note at the end of their article, stating that the report was brought "word for word" to the best of their abilities.

However, in Wednesday's statement, the news outlet stated that the story had not directly come from the victim, shifting blame to former Attorney General Azima Shukoor, who has since denied any involvement and reports having lodged the matter of false allegations to police authorities last night.

The news media stated that the victim spoke to them on the phone for a short period of time before Azima took it upon herself to provide the details of the case, claiming it would be difficult for the victim to recount her story.

During a press conference held on July 16, Maldives Police Service reiterated that initial media reports on the case, published by Mendhuru, were unreliable as the victim had denied providing them with an interview.

Throughout the press conference, police maintained that the Kenyan woman was a victim of sexual assault, not rape.

Highlighting that Mendhuru was not a registered media outlet, Chief Inspector Azma stated that the victim expressed concern over the outlet's claims and requested that her photographs be removed from their website.

Thus far, neither Maldives Media Council nor the Ministry of Home Affairs, under whose jurisdiction falls issues concerning media registration and matters related to digital and print news, have issued any statements regarding Mendhuru Online, their verification process or editorial policies.

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