Four gender ministry officials and a senior policeman are facing criminal prosecution on charges of negligence over the horrific murder of a three-year-old boy on the island of Rakeedhoo in Vaavu atoll.
According to the Prosecutor General’s office, the gender ministry officials include Executive Coordinator Mohamed Shakeeb, Mohamed Rasheed, and two former employees, Aminath Shaziya and Ahmed Shuzad. The police officer, Lishan Abubakuru, was the northern station’s acting commander in Vaavu atoll.
The cases were filed at the criminal court on Monday. The PG office said the decision to prosecute was based on a review of the findings of an inquiry conducted by the human rights watchdog.
Three-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal was found dead with signs of severe physical abuse on January 28, 2015. His mother, Afiya Mohamed, has since confessed at court to killing her child. The child’s murder shocked the nation whilst reports that the authorities had been aware of Ibthihaal’s repeated abuse by his mother sparked public outrage.
According to the PG office, the four gender ministry officials were charged with ‘disobedience to order’ under the old penal code with reference to the Domestic Violence Act and the Child’s Right Act.
The police officer was also charged under the provision with reference to the same laws as well as the Police Act.
Under section 88(d) of the repealed penal code – which applies to offences committed before the new penal code came into force in July 2015 – the disobedience to order offence carries either a jail term, banishment, or house arrest for up to six months or a fine of MVR150 (US$10).
Deputy Gender Minister Leesha Mohamed told the Maldives Independent that the ministry is “checking the progress of the case by talking to the PG.”
Asked if the officials facing trial have been suspended, the deputy minister declined to comment.
In April 2015, Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh told the press that inter-generational violence and state negligence led to the boy’s death.
Both government authorities and the island community were negligent and partly responsible for the tragedy, he said.
In January last year, Ibthihaal’s step-grandfather was charged with child abuse.
Ismail Rauf was arrested in April 2015 and accused of sexually and physically abusing both Ibthihaal and his mother. If found guilty, he could face a jail sentence of 25 years.
Rauf was previously banished after being found guilty of child abuse. Ibthihaal’s mother Afiya was reportedly the victim.
The police meanwhile suggested that Afiya’s anger towards her son stemmed from rumours surrounding his birth. Ibthihaal was born out of wedlock.
The police explained that Ibthihaal had been under the care of his maternal grandmother from the age of one and lived with her in Vaavu Keyodhoo and Meemu Madduvari.
Seven months before his death, Ibthihaal was brought back to Rakeedhoo to live with his mother, where his psychological and physical abuse continued.
Afiya had two other children at the time and is accused of mistreating Ibthihaal, neglecting to feed or wash the boy.
According to Inspector Satheeh, marks found on the child’s neck indicated that he had been strangled.
Police also found swelling on the right side of his forehead, scrapes on his face, wounds on his right ear and scars all over his body. Some of his ribs were broken as well.
Satheeh said Ibthihaal’s death was caused by “major injuries” while some older scars remained unhealed.