Safari Rape: Police deny tempering with victim’s statement

Protestors on the streets of Male' advocating to end rape culture and impunity | Photo: One Online

Male’, Maldives – Maldives Police Service – which recently had to face major public criticism after the lawyers of the victim who got sexually assaulted on a Safari docked in Hulhumale’ lagoon, shared a video of investigation officers mocking and talking about tempering the victim statement – haas denied of any such wrong doing.

The video in question, which was shared by one of the lawyers of the victim, Shafeea Riza, showed a female, who is believed to be one of the investigation officers, seemingly mocking the victim and her lawyers, after which she proceeded to talk about modifying the victim’s statement. A male’s voice could also be heard in the video who was conversing with the female officer seen in the video about the case.

The matter was brought to light after the lawyers decided to come forward with the issue on social media, having have posted it on Twitter. One of the lawyer’s of the victim, Uza. Shafeea Riza said that she and the other lawyer handling the case, Uza. Noorbaan Fahmy have remained patient in hope of justice, despite repeated gross negligence by Maldives Police Service, and called the actions of the officers seen in the video as “clear evidence of intention of the police in this case”.

However, Police, in a statement released on Monday night, have denied any misconduct and said that the video is of a discussion between the investigators amidst the drafting process of the victim statement, after a Skype interview with the victim.

Police called the reference of the contents of the video as misconduct and tempering of the victims statement as “absolutely void of the truth” and said that what was seen in the video was officers discussing the statement given by the victim during the drafting stage of the statement, to ensure that all information in the statement is accurate. Police also claimed that this is common practice.

“The common practice followed is the lawyers check the draft written after an interview, and bring any required amendments to the document prior to the stamping of finger prints and signatures.” A statement by Maldives Police Service read.

Police further added that the discussion in the video is after a second interview with the victim upon the request of the lawyers to add further details to an already signed victim statement. It was also said that while the lawyers were only given access to the Skype interview for the purpose of the investigation, the dissemination of information which describes the attack on the victim may result in further violation of the rights of the victim.

The statement continued expressing concern over the lawyers not employing the proper channels to investigate any claims of misconduct, but instead publicizing the information of the victim – something the Police claim to be a deliberate act to diminish the trust of the public towards the institution.

However, as the matter has already been filed with Maldives Police Service, Prosecutor General’s Office, and the National Integrity Commission, Police assured full cooperation into any investigations that would be carried out.

The safari rape case made international headlines after a Kenyan woman was sexually assaulted on board a safari which was docked in the lagoon of Hulhumale’, sometime during late June. Police arrested two 39 year old males from the crime scene, however released both citing that there was no probable cause to keep the pair in custody. Public outrage sparked following the incident which was later followed by news that one of the perpetrators was the husband of an MP, as well as a relative of the President, calling them “royal people.” With this, protestors took to the streets of Male’ calling for justice to be served and against impunity.

The identities of the two arrested have not been disclosed by police, who maintain that it cannot be revealed during the course of the investigation, despite having done so in similar cases previously.