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News in Brief

Police to dispose of over 700 impounded vehicles

Police have announced today that 722 vehicles impounded for illegal parking will be disposed of as no one has come forward to claim ownership of the vehicles.

Police are working with the Malé City Council to transport the vehicles to the Thilafushi industrial island, police said.

According to a statement by the police, the vehicles to be destroyed includes 156 motorcycles, 560 bicycles, and six four-wheelers.

Police noted that only five vehicles were reclaimed by their owners from the tow yard following the last announcement.

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Government pays GMR US$ 4 million in arbitration fees

The Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) has paid US$4 million to Indian infrastructure giant GMR as compensation for legal costs of arbitration proceedings in Singapore.

Following an 18-month arbitration process, a Singapore tribunal ruled last month that a concession agreement with the GMR-led consortium to manage and develop the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) was “valid and binding” and held the government and MACL “jointly and severally liable in damages” for losses caused by the premature termination of the contract in December 2012.

The Singapore Court of Appeal ordered the Maldivian government and the 100 percent government-owned airports company to pay GMR US$4 million within 42 days for the cost of arbitration proceedings.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told Sun Online last week that the US$4 million was paid out of the MACL’s revenues and not the state budget.

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More than 10,000 registered poor in capital Malé

Some 10,114 people have registered as poor and eligible for Zakat in the capital Malé at the end of a registration deadline yesterday, local media reports.

According to the Islamic Ministry, more than 53,000 people will be eligible for Zakat in 2014 - an obligatory alms tax collected from the accumulated wealth of all able Muslims.

The number of registered poor rose to 53,200 last year from 50,619 in 2012 – a 4.9 percent increase.

The ministry has said that MVR47 million (US$3 million) was collected last year as Zakat and out of this approximately MVR21.3 million (US$1.3 million) will be distributed to the poor – each person is expected to receive MVR400 (US$26).

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Less people eating during day time this Ramadan, reveals police statistics

The number of individuals arrested from Malé city for eating during daylight hours in Ramadan has decreased by 83 percent when compared to 2013, reveals police statistics.

Only five were arrested in the first two weeks of Ramdan for eating while 31 cases were reported in the same period last year. According to the police, two cases of eating during daylight hours were reported every day last year.

Consumption of food without a reasonable excuse during Ramadan is prosecuted as a criminal offense in the Maldives.
The cases are usually proved with testimonies of eye witnesses or the perpetrator. Those guilty are fined with MVR 150 for “disobedience to orders” under article 88 (a) of the Penal Code.

Three men were arrested on the first day of Ramadan (June 29) for smoking cigarettes while fasting. All three had criminal records. One of them was caught inside a public toilet. That same week, another man was caught eating on the stairs of his apartment building and suspected drugs were also found on the latter.

On July 1, a 37-year-old man was arrested for eating dates from a breakfast table at a Male’ mosque, just before sunset. Police told local media he had also smoked a cigarette after eating from the mosque.

In April, a man who had been caught smoking a cigarette during Ramadan in Malé was fined and in July another man was fined for chewing arecanuts during daylight hours.

A police spokesperson told Minivan News that arrests are made based on reports or if police witness individuals eating in public spaces. The police will attend to cases where people are reported to have eaten in a private place.

Both the Maldives Police Services and Islamic Scholars are creating more public awareness in order to reduce such crimes, the police said.

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Fenaka Corporation commissioned to build sewerage system for Kudahuvadhoo housing units

Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure has contracted Fenaka Corporation to establish a sewerage system in the housing units under construction in the island of Kudahuvadhoo in Dhaalu atoll.

The 53 units are dedicated to providing housing for residents of Kudahuvadhoo who were relocated from the small island of Vaanee in the same atoll.

The agreement for the project was signed by Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz and Fenaka Corporation Managing Director Mohamed Nimal at a meeting on Wednesday (July 16).

Under the agreement, Fenaka has to complete setting up the sewerage system within a period of 120 days. The project is financed by the state budget and is estimated to cost MVR4.01 million (US$26,0052).

Appearing for minister’s question time at Tuesday’s sitting of parliament, Muiz informed MPs that the housing units would be awarded to the former residents of Vaanee after formalities are completed by the Kudahuvadhoo island council and Dhaalu atoll council.

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Commissioner of police submits to drug testing

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed submitted to drug testing by the police professional standards command last week.

According to police media, Waheed was not aware that he would be asked to provide a urine sample when he was “summoned” to the professional standards command on Wednesday night (July 16).

The test “proved that Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed is not a drug user.”

In March 2013, former Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz set up a special department to randomly test police officers for drug and alcohol use.

Riyaz issued an order to conduct drug testing on eight police officers picked at random each month.

Police revealed last week that 167 police officers have been tested so far.

The move followed allegations by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party that riot police officers at the party’s demonstrations following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012 were intoxicated.

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PPM considers lawsuit against JP

Deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Ahmed Adeeb has threatened to sue former coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) for intent to sue MPs who switched from the JP to PPM.

Three JP MPs crossed the floor to PPM after a coalition agreement fell apart after JP leader Gasim Ibrahim contested for the speakership of the People’s Majlis against PPM candidate Abdulla Maseeh.

The JP last week said MPs had signed an agreement swearing in the name of Allah to remain faithful to the party and said it will consider a lawsuit for breaching the agreement. The party also said PPM had bribed and coerced MPs into switching parties.

In response, Adeeb told local news agency Haveeru that the PPM will counter any lawsuits, arguing that the agreements are unconstitutional.

“JP cannot make agreements in a manner that deprives members of their constitutional rights. Even our 43 members are not serving under any agreements. So they cannot take an agreement that is against the Constitution to court, they cannot even take away their parliamentary seats,” said Adeeb.

Allegations of bribery are baseless, Adeeb said claiming the JP was attempting to intimidate MPs.

Gasim had sent text messages to the three MPs regarding the funds spent on their campaign in an attempt to intimidate them, he said.

“I advise him to stop threatening members of PPM. Even Ilham [Dhangethi constituency MP Ilham Ahmed] switched to JP after being elected to the post of our party’s deputy leader. We did not run after him. That is because changing political ideologies is a right that members have,” he stated.

Parliamentarians Hassan Mufeed Abdul Gadhir, Mohamed Abdulla and Hassan Areef switched to PPM after being elected as JP members.

Following the changes, JP alleged that the PPM is offering “unattainably high financial and material incentives” to members.

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Maldivian pilgrim dies in Mecca

A 54-year-old Maldivian pilgrim from Baa Atoll Eydhafushi passed away on Tuesday night (July 15) while performing the Umra pilgrimage in Mecca, local media reports.

According to the Islamic Ministry, the pilgrim was with the Sisilfaru Hajj and Umra Group and was buried in Mecca yesterday.

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MDP seeks candidate for Velidhoo council by-election

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has made an announcement inviting interested members to contest in a primary scheduled for July 24 to choose a candidate to contest in a by-election for a vacant island council seat in Noonu Velidhoo.

Potential candidates were asked to submit application forms to the party’s national secretariat before 3pm next Monday (July 21). The  Elections Commission (EC) have not announced a date for the by-election yet.

The party’s candidate for a vacant seat on the Noonu Kendikolhudhoo island council was meanwhile elected by default this week after no other candidates stood for the seat.

The opposition party has a majority on the five-member Velidhoo council while the parliamentary constituency that includes the island is also represented by an MDP MP.

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Torture victims in the Maldives tell their stories