Young Trinidadian rescued from deserted Pacific island

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, September 29, 2006 – A young Trinidadian who was sentenced to one year on a deserted island by the Maldives government has been released and now back home.

The intriguing tale told by the Trinidad Guardian newspaper this morning is of the intervention of Minister of Foreign Affairs Knowlson Gift, who resigned this week, to get the Trinidadian released.

The young man was working in the hospitality industry at the Meeru Island resort on the Muslim island and had sex with a 16-year old British tourist. The young lady at first said it was consensual but then change the story to that of forced sex.

The man, who is said to come from a well-known Trinidadian family, was arrested and charged under Sharia law (Islamic law) with raping the girl and also having sex with a minor.

Under Sharia law the age of consent is the age of puberty and so the charge of having sex with a minor was dropped but the rape charge which remained could not be heard because the family had left the little Pacific island state.

The young man having confessed to having sex was sentenced to one year on a deserted island. He was dropped off there and periodically would be taken food and water but it was up to him to survive as best as he could.

His family appealed to the then Minister of Foreign Affairs who wrote his Maldivies counterpart, Ahmed Saheed, arguing that both teenagers would have to be charged and it was wrong to punish the boy for consensual sex but not the girl.

After the letter and several phone calls, the Trinidadian was granted a presidential pardon and allowed to leave the island a few weeks after his banishment, according to the Guardian.

The incident took place in August 2005.