Two men arrested on charges of practicing sorcery

Two men arrested on charges of practicing sorcery
January 23 17:30 2016

Two men have been arrested from the northern island of Ihavandhoo in Haa Alif atoll on suspicion of practicing sorcery.

The suspects, aged 24 and 25, were taken into custody on Thursday based on information suggesting the pair were practicing sorcery or black magic, the police said yesterday.

The police also searched the homes of the suspect as well as a warehouse with court warrants and confiscated “some items related to the case.”

The Haa Alif Dhidhoo magistrate court has extended the remand detention of the suspects to seven days.

Four suspects, including an elderly woman from Gemanafushi and three men from Vilufushi, were arrested last month on sorcery and black magic charges.

The three men were arrested following complaints from islanders claiming they were causing damages to households, whilst the police found “materials used for black magic” from the residence of the 66-year-old female suspect.

Belief in sorcery and black magic, known locally as fanditha or sihuru, is common and widespread in the Maldives.

Following the arrest of three men from the island of Fulhadhoo in Baa atoll last November on sorcery charges, former Attorney General Husnu Suood questioned whether causation could be proved in court when a suspect is accused of using sorcery to commit a crime.

“In order to prove murder, law requires intent and causation. So, the question is where the means were supernatural in nature, is it possible to prove causation?” he asked in a Facebook post.

“If the state could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the defendant caused the death of the victim, and that the defendant intended such death, he could be convicted of murder. The question, then, becomes one of evidence – is there sufficient evidence of the connection between the defendant’s actions and the result to convince a judge beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Suood noted that mysterious deaths are sometimes attributed to “the malicious use of black magic.”

“In some cases, the black magic might be thought of as ‘long range artillery’ coming from unknown people in a distant location. Often, however, the alleged practitioners of the black magic are intimates of the victim. For example, the alleged sorcerer or witch might be the victim’s relative or neighbour,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the Islamic ministry asked the privately-owned Sangu TV last month to stop a weekly programme on sorcery and black magic, saying it poses a threat to religious unity.

In August, the Fiqh academy had flagged the promotion of black magic and sorcery in local media and urged the public to refrain from engaging practitioners of black magic.

The fatwa on sorcery came after opposition figures linked the uprooting of old trees at the Republic square and the removal of monuments in Malè to President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged fear of sorcery.

In January 2012, local NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf called on the authorities to enact legislation to make sorcery or black magic illegal in Maldives.