Supreme Court upholds conviction in child abuse case

Supreme Court. (File Photo/Sun/Ihthisham Mohamed)

The Supreme Court of Maldives has upheld the conviction of Moosa Rasheed from Asurumaage, L. Gan for for committing a sexual act with a minor of a 12-year old. 

Rasheed was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for committing a sexual act with a minor which occurred in Sh. Milandhoo in 2011. 

He was convicted by the Magistrate Court of Milandhoo and sentenced to 10 years in 2013. The sentence was also upheld by the High Court in 2016 when appealed. And now, the Supreme Court of the Maldives has also upheld the sentence. 

Rasheed appealed on the grounds that he was not given a sufficient opportunity to present a defense.  

The High Court ruled that Rasheed had failed to present any evidence or witness statements to present his innocence in the trial of the Magistrate Court which led the court to reach the conclusion that the lack of opportunity to present a defense as baseless. 

The defense lawyers' statements in the Supreme Court also indicated that Rasheed had been permitted to present a witness as evidence, and the top court also ruled that the defendant had been provided the chance to present and prove his innocence. 

Sexual and child abuse laws of the country state that 12 types of evidence can be taken into account in such a case, and if five out of the 12 types of evidence is presented, it could be deemed as sufficient to prove the crime. Rasheed also appealed on the grounds that the prosecution had failed to present the five types of evidence. The Supreme Court, however, noted that the High Court, in its ruling, had specifically stated that the evidence in the case was sufficient for a conviction. 

The top court also took into account other factors in the case before ruling to uphold the conviction. 

The case was reviewed by the Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice Ahmed Muthasim Adnan, Justice Esmeralda Zahir, and Justice Husnu Al Suood. The justices ruled to uphold the conviction unanimously. 

Editor's note: A previous version of this article read that the individual convicted in the case was convicted for rape. The information was inaccurate and has since been changed to the correct version of the facts, which is that the individual was convicted of committing a sexual offense with a minor.