Security Operation, Gastroenteritis Outbreak, Ex-President On Trial

Thursday, January 13

Former president Abdulla Yameen’s lawyer asked the criminal court to arrange live broadcasts of his money laundering trial. The opposition leader was charged with accepting a bribe to lease the Aarah island in Vaavu Atoll for resort development. But lawyers representing co-defendant Yousuf Naeem, a former lawmaker who is accused of bribing the president, objected to televised proceedings. Judge Ahmed Shakeel said he would make a decision before the next hearing.

A separate trial over the lease of Raa Fuggiri island is ongoing at the criminal court. Yameen was previously found guilty of money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison. But the Supreme Court overturned the conviction last November over the prosecution’s failure to conclusively prove that US$1 million in his bank account came from stolen funds.

Thursday, January 13

Victims of the Sealife apartments scam petitioned the president about the settlement agreement reached in their class action lawsuit. More than 200 buyers who made payments for flats that were never built were compensated and assured apartments from government housing schemes. But 122 of the plaintiffs say the price of the Vinares flats in Hulhumalé offered to them is higher than Sealife’s over the payment period. The state-owned Housing Development Corporation – which was also sued for awarding the housing project to Sealife and allowing the real estate developer to charge fees – insists it cannot offer other payment options.

Sealife design concept

The Baa Atoll Council passed a resolution calling on the government to

  • seek approval before leasing any more islands in the atoll for resort development;
  • allow the council to monitor islands leased for agriculture;
  • bring uninhabited islands, lagoons and sandbanks under the council’s jurisdiction;
  • hand over control of the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve;
  • take action against illegal garbage dumping, unauthorised use both of sandbanks by resorts and islands leased for agriculture.

Renowned for the protected Hanifaru Bay marine sanctuary for mantas and whale sharks, Baa Atoll has 18 resorts with three more in development. Only a few of the 50 uninhabited islands in the atoll remain unutilised.

Baa Atoll

The country’s first ever pediatric cardiology intervention was successfully carried out at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital on a child with severe pulmonary stenosis, a condition in which the valve that controls blood pumping from heart to lungs is narrowed. A team of doctors performed a ‘Balloon Pulmonary Valvuloplasty’ where an inflating balloon stretches the valve and helps open it up. “This marks the inception of pediatric catheter-based/structural interventions in the country,” IGMH said.

A magistrate court’s release of an alleged rapist was unlawful, the High Court ruled after the Prosecutor General’s office appealed the lower court’s decision. The male suspect was arrested from the victim’s home shortly after the alleged sexual assault was reported in the early hours of 27 November. He was found sleeping naked. After a month in custody, the island’s magistrate court refused to extend pre-trial detention and released him on the condition that he stays away from the victim’s residence and does not attempt to contact her in any way.

Tuesday, January 11

The Gaaf Dhaalu Thinadhoo island council announced plans to offer plots of land to provide housing for non-residents. A Google form was put up to compile a registry of people interested in moving to the island. Thinadhoo, one of only four islands aside from the capital with a population above 5,000 people, was significantly expanded with land reclamation during the previous government.

Tuesday, January 11

The transport ministry revised driving school regulations to cap fees and require a minimum number of practice hours before applying for a driving license.

Four political parties are eligible for state funding this year, the Elections Commission told the media. Seven other parties do not meet the minimum requirement of 10,000 registered members. Between 0.1 to 0.2 percent of the state budget is allocated to political parties. The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party has the largest membership with more than 51,000 people, followed by the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives with more than 37,000 members.

An outbreak of gastroenteritis grew beyond 3,000 cases, according to the Health Protection Agency. The spike began in December with a highly contagious norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea. The majority of cases were reported from Malé and other Kaafu Atoll islands.

Sunday, January 9

The police and military launched a joint security operation in Malé in response to growing gang violence. Groups of soldiers and police officers started patrolling the capital’s streets and frisking suspects. The police presence was increased in gang hotspots.

Sunday, January 9