A court has ordered the police to pay more than MVR800,000 (US$56,420) in damages to an officer who was dismissed in 2010 on a charge of being an accomplice to a woman’s rape in 2011.
Chief Inspector Risheef Thoha was fired in 2011, but the Supreme Court last year ordered his reinstatement with full salary and benefits, claiming his presence at the crime scene did not make him an accomplice.
Risheef was given his job back, but immediately suspended on a second issue of alcohol use.
The civil court on Thursday ordered the police force to pay Risheef some MVR 690,921 as unpaid salary (US$44,806) and some MVR181,000 in benefits (US$11,738).
Risheef was dismissed by the police’s disciplinary board when a woman filed a complaint with the police alleging that she was sexually abused by a group of police officers, including the chief inspector.
In December 2010 Risheef appealed the decision at the civil court, which upheld the board’s decision. The ruling noted that Risheef’s call records showed he had contacted the accused officers several times at the time of the incident. Analysis of the phone’s locations determined that the car had travelled along the routes the woman had specified.
The verdict also noted that the woman was thrown out of the car naked at dawn near Risheef’s house, and that he had admitted to being in the area a few minutes later.
The high court in 2012 however overturned the lower court’s ruling, citing insufficient evidence, and ordered he be paid salary and benefits.
The civil court’s new order for compensation has sparked outrage, especially as it was issued on the same day that the court ordered the state to pay out some MVR421,733 (US$27,000) in compensation for another top government official, removed by the parliament for sexual harassment.
Shahinda Ismail, who chaired the police oversight body, the Police Integrity Commission, at the time of the rape, criticised the court’s decision, noting no action has been taken against Risheef despite strong evidence incriminating him.
“The civil court has ruled that he should be given his job back and also compensated, but I cannot help but wonder if all the evidence does not justify any kind of action against the officer,” she said.
Crimes committed by police officers must be taken more seriously than the ordinary man, she added.
“It is very different when a crime is committed by ordinary citizens and when it is committed by police officers, who have a responsibility to enforce and uphold the law. Such cases should be taken very seriously and the level of leniency should also change,” she said.
Meanwhile, the criminal court last week cleared a police officer of brutality charges, despite being caught on video attacking an opposition member on February 7, 2012. The court ruled that the video footage may have been altered as it was sourced from private TV stations, Villa TV and Raajje TV.
None of the police officers accused of brutalizing Maldivian Democratic Party supporters on February 7 and 8 have been convicted to date.