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Three construction workers plead guilty over death of girl

Two Maldivians and one Indian worker pleaded not guilty.



Three Indian construction workers pleaded guilty Thursday to charges raised over the death of an eight-year-old girl who was hit by a cement bag.

A fourth Indian worker and two Maldivians from the construction company pleaded not guilty, according to media reports of the preliminary hearing.

Judge Ali Rasheed Hussain decided to sentence the three Indian men next week and proceed to trial with the other defendants.

Eight-year-old Rawshan Jian, the daughter of two Bangladeshi doctors working in the Maldives, died of severe injuries after she was hit by the cement bag that fell from Maafannu Nalahiya Manzil, a 10-storey building under construction in Malé by the W Construction company.

Inspections of all construction sites in the capital and its suburbs along with a review of safety regulations were launched after horrific video footage of the tragic accident in December sparked public outrage.

Overdue construction safety regulations have since come into force.

Of the three who pleaded guilty, Rajjav Ali was the worker who was operating the winch that was used to lift the bag. It fell because the winch line was loosened too much, the Prosecutor General’s office said last month.

He was charged with reckless homicide, an offence that carries a six-year jail term.

Muthmani Ramachandran was charged as an accomplice for telling Ali to lift up the bags despite being aware that he not tasked with operating the winch line.

Speaking through a translator, the defendants reportedly admitted the incident took place as described by the prosecution. But they did not deliberately cause the accident, both men told the court.

The third man who pled guilty, Keshari Lal Chauhary, was one of two workers who were putting bags on the sling.

They had seen the girl and her mother approaching on the pavement but failed to warn them, the PG office said. The offence carries a jail term of one year and six months.

The three men would face a lesser sentence as the penal code offers leniency for pleading guilty.

The other worker, Gulal Mohamed, pleaded not guilty along with the two Maldivians.

Moosa Hassan, W Construction’s managing director, and Adam Shafeeq, senior site supervisor, were charged with negligent homicide over the failure to take safety measures. If convicted, they could face one year and seven months in prison.

In January, the parents of Rawshan Jian vowed to remain in the Maldives until the investigation into her death is concluded and justice is served.

The two Bangladeshi doctors, who were working at the Faafu Nilandhoo island’s health centre, were in the capital during their annual holiday when the accident occurred.

Rawshan Jian passed away at the intensive care unit at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital after undergoing two major surgeries.