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Police forward Safari Case to PG Office again

Mariyam Malsa
15 December 2020, MVT 17:16
Protesters amid a demonstration held on the streets of Male' City, against all forms of sexual violence and to hold perpetrators and the authorities accountable, on June 29, 2020. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI / MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
15 December 2020, MVT 17:16

Maldives Police Service, on Tuesday, revealed that the case concerning the sexual assault of a Kenyan woman on a liveaboard docked at Hulhumale' lagoon was forwarded to the Prosecutor General's Office.

A police spokesperson stated that the case was sent to the PG Office after completing the suggestions presented during discussions at the Duty Prosecution to strengthen the investigation.

Neither the PG Office nor the police revealed how many individuals are to be indicted.

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, was reportedly invited aboard the safari by a friend, and was later sexually harassed and assaulted by two men. After the woman jumped off the vessel in an effort to escape, she was picked up by a dinghy and transported to the jetty.

The two men, both aged 39, were arrested at the scene. However, they were later released with the authorities claiming, based on the information collected, that detaining them until the investigation concluded would be unnecessary.

Although initial reports by local media state that the victim was raped aboard the vessel, and that authorities released the suspects after phone calls from "people high up", the police maintain that the victim was harassed and not raped.

Mendhuru Online, the local media outlet that first reported the incident as rape, issued an apology over misinformation in their account of the case and removed the article from their website.

In a later interview published by local media outlet Mihaaru, the victim reportedly stated that she did not wish to press charges, that she did not have complaints regarding the police investigation, and that she had not spoken to any media outlets prior to Mihaaru.

Several members of the public have expressed skepticism over the aforementioned interview, citing the parallels between initial media reports and official police statements as well as the accounts claiming that the woman was intimidated, threatened with deportation and presented with bribes.

Authorities came under fire by the public for releasing the suspects at such an early stage of the investigation, and withholding information about the alleged perpetrators. Negative public opinion was further stoked by rumours that one of the alleged suspects is connected to politicians serving in the incumbent administration.

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