State blunder frees alleged child rapist

Protestors hold up signs during an anti-rape rally in Male City. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The conviction against a man accused of repeated sexual assault of two young boys has been overturned upon appeal, after the High Court found the prosecution applied the wrong legal provisions to charge him.

The High Court overturned the conviction on Sunday.

The prosecution had filed charges against the man with a magistrate court in F. Atoll on December 24, 2017. He was accused of repeatedly taking two young boys – both of them under the age of 15 – to an abandoned house, where he sexually assaulted them. The abuse started from July 2014.

On February 23, 2021, the court found the man guilty of same-sex relations, and sentenced him to three years in prison.

On June 22, 2021, the man appealed the conviction with the High Court, which, on Monday, found errors in prosecution.

The court found that the man was charged based on a 2008 circular issued by the former Justice Ministry, despite the Special Provisions Act to Deal with Child Sex Abuse Offenders being in effect since November 2009 – which was long before the crime took place.

The court found the man was charged in violation of standard procedure and with complete disregard for the special provisions, and overturned the 2021 conviction.

The prosecution itself admitted to the error during a hearing on May 16.

The decision to overturn the conviction was made with the unanimous consensus of the three-judge bench; Judge Huzaifa Mohamed, Judge Fathimath Faruheeza, and Judge Dheebanaz Fahmy.