Victim’s family welcomes Interpol red notice for murder suspect

The family of murder victim Ahmed Jailam Shakir has welcomed an Interpol red notice issued to locate a suspect and a High Court order for the criminal court to accept the case.

The red notice was issued for 19-year-old Mohamed Humaid, who had fled to Sri Lanka in late February. The Interpol site states that Humaid is wanted for prosecution on charges of “gang murder, gang assault with sharp weapons.”

Jailam’s mother, Moomina Ahmed, told Minivan News today that she is happy about the development as the suspect was dangerous.

“I think if the suspects remain free they are a danger to the society too. So he should be found soon,” Moomina said.

Jailam was stabbed numerous times by two men armed with machetes while he was sitting outside his house, eyewitnesses told Minivan News.

Three other suspects have been charged with murder in connection with the 23-year-old Jailam’s fatal stabbing on February 21.

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) office had charged the suspects under the Intimidation and Possession of Dangerous Weapons and Sharp Instruments Act, but the criminal court’s registrar refused to accept the case, contending that the PG office’s interpretation of 2010 law was incorrect. The exact charges have not been disclosed to the media yet.

PG office media official Mohamed Hisham Wajeeh said the office did not understand the criminal court’s objection as the registrar had not offered much detail.

“It is an issue regarding substance of the law so it is for the judge to make a decision on it, not the court’s registrar,” Hisham said.

The case was complicated due to the involvement of multiple suspects, he said, and criticised the criminal court for revealing details of charges to local media. “I think it is very unethical for them to do so, I do not think this occurs anywhere else in the world either,” he said.

Upon appeal by the PG office, the High Court ordered the lower court to accept the case if it is filed within seven days. Hisham said the court has since decided to hear the case, but hearings have not commenced yet.

Moomina meanwhile expressed appreciation for the PG office’s efforts, but said she remained unsatisfied.

“I’m glad the High Court overturned the criminal court refusal to accept the case. But my hope is that the process of prosecuting the suspects will go more quickly. It has been three months since my son was killed but so far the trial has not yet begun,” Moomina said.

She added that the authorities should punish the perpetrators in accordance with the law. “There is no punishment I can give that can bring my son back,” she said.

A 20-year-old suspect was reportedly arrested on March 10 whilst two other suspects, aged 19 and 24, were taken into police custody with arrest warrants on March 3.

The criminal court extended the remand detention of the latter to 15 days.

Since 2001, Maldives has seen 42 murders including Jailam’s. Prosecution was completed in just a fraction of the cases.

Jailam’s murder occurred two months after Ahmed Mafaz, 28, was killed last December. In late March, the police launched a joint security operation with the army following the the murder of a 29-year-old man in Malé.

On June 16, a 19-year-old victim of an assault in Addu City died while undergoing treatment for injuries. Hussain Shiar’s fatal stabbing was the sixth murder in 2015. The police revealed today that four suspects have been arrested this week in connection with Shiar’s murder, including two 20-year-old men, a 22-year-old man, and 24-year-old man.

All four suspects have criminal records and are being held in remand detention.

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Interpol release missing persons notice for Mohamed Hamdhan

Interpol have released a missing persons notice for Mohamed Hamdhan, the Maldivian national who went missing in Malaysia last week after failing to board a flight to Malé.

Malaysian and Maldivian authorities began the search for Malé resident Hamdhan, aged 28, after he failed to check in for two booked flights from Kuala Lumpur.

The police cooperation organisation has asked for anyone with information on Hamdhan’s whereabouts to contact its general secretariat.

Interpol described Hamdhan as having a small round white scar on his chest, eczema scars on the back of both ears, and small scars on his left hand and left bicep.

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Artur brothers “direct threat to national security”: MP Fahmy

Parliament passed an extraordinary motion today (April 2) expressing concern that cabinet ministers’ connections to the Artur brothers posed a “direct threat to national security”.

Police meanwhile revealed they became aware of the Artur brothers presence in the Maldives in January, and launched an investigation to determine if they had been conducting any illegal activities in the country.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News police had contacted “relevant government authorities” in January to inform them of the Artur brothers’ links to drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets, dealings with senior government officials and other serious crimes in Kenya.

He was reluctant to share any further details given that “this is still an open case under investigation”.

Minivan News understands that relevant authorities, including the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), Ministry of Home Affairs, and the President’s Office were officially informed in January of the presence of the Artur brothers, even as Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb signed a letter seeking residency permits for the pair.

Immigration Controller Mohamed Ali told local media that Artur Sargasyan left the Maldives on Sunday (March 31). Sargasyan first entered the Maldives on a tourist visa in August 2012 and returned again in October, Ali said. Sargasyan’s associate is still in the Maldives at a resort in Male’ Atoll, Ali told local media.

Photos of the Arturs in the company of Adheeb and Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim emerged on social media over the weekend, apparently taken during the Piston Motor Racing Challenge held on Hulhumale’ between January 25 and 26.

One photo showed Artur Sargsyan next to Adheeb and Nazim, while another has him apparently starting one of the motorcycle races at the event, which was organised by the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF). Another image showed Sargsyan at the red carpet opening for the Olympus Cinema.

Meanwhile the Artur’s US$6000 bill at the Club Faru resort – recently taken over by the government-owned Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) – was paid by a ”top official of the resort management”, according to Haveeru.

Picking up the story today, Kenyan media reported that the brothers’ practice of publicly ingratiating themselves with senior government officials appeared not to have changed.

“The Arturs’ mode of operation where they show up in the company of top and well-connected government leaders appears to have been replicated in the Maldives. Their presence in the Maldives comes days after ousted leader Mohammed Nasheed expressed fear over his life,” reported Kenya’s Daily Nation publication.

Parliament concerned about connections with cabinet ministers

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy submitted the motion to parliament to raise concerns about the Artur brothers’ presence in the country and their possible connections with Nazim and Adheeb.

“The Artur brothers are a direct threat to national security since they are – true to their old style and from the experiences of other countries – directly linked to the top government officials including Mr Mohamed Nazim who is both the Defense Minister and the acting Transport Minister, as well as Mr Ahmed Adheeb who is the Tourism Minister,” Fahmy told Minivan News.

“These are the most crucial government ministries with which the Artur brothers are looking to have special links to achieve their objectives,” he contended.

Fahmy said the Artur brothers were believed to have carried out “all sorts of serious illegal activities internationally” and that the Maldives “is incapable of handling these notorious conmen from Armenia. They are capable of taking local criminal gangs to different heights.”

Fahmy explained that immigration laws do not permit entry into the Maldives if the visitor is “even suspected” of being involved in human smuggling or trafficking; may be [considered] a national threat, or otherwise may commit crimes against the state.”

“Given all these facts – and that the Artur brothers are  world-infamous for carrying out criminal activities of this sort – they were allowed into the country and seen publicly with top government officials,” Fahmy added, alleging that the pair have three meetings with Adheeb and Nazim on Hulhumale’ and on Club Faru.

National security concerns politicised

While the extraordinary motion passed with 27 votes in favour to 10 against,  most MPs from non-MDP parties “were not in favor of this serious issue”, Fahmy claimed.

The Parliamentary Committee on National Security will “seriously look into the matter”, however because it is not an MDP-majority committee, Fahmy believes said it would not be easy for the opposition to hold Nazim and Adheeb accountable.

“You could see how much the Artur brothers have penetrated into the parliament from the number of no votes for this motion today,” he claimed.

During today’s parliamentary debate the MDP was accused of being connected with the Artur brothers by MPs, who claimed the Maldivian shareholder in a company registered by the brothers was affiliated with the party.

Ismail Waseem of H. Ever Chance was listed as holding a 3 percent share in ‘Artur Brothers World Connections’, registered in the Maldives in October 2012.

Waseem’s share was subsequently transferred to Abdulla Shaffath of H. Ever Peace on November 25.

“No member holding a position in the party has anything to do with the Artur brothers,” Fahmy claimed. “Instead President Dr Waheed Hassan Manik, or his top government officials, are known to have been directly involved with them. It is this coup-government that has brought those conmen into this country,” Fahmy said.

Today’s parliamentary session was prolonged for an additional hour due to the extraordinary motion submitted.

Denials

Defense Minister Nazim and Tourism Minister Adheeb have meanwhile denied any involvement with infamous pair of Armenian brothers.

“I came to know about them after the rumours started spreading on social media networks. But no country had informed of us anything officially,” local media reported Nazim as saying.

“To my knowledge those two men have left the Maldives,” he said.

Adheeb acknowledged meeting the brothers during the Piston Cup event, but bemoaned to Haveeru how “information about this issue is being spread by the media rather negatively. I have no links with them.”

Speaking to Minivan News, Adheeb reiterated that he had no personal links with the Artur brothers, whom he said had now left the country on his recommendation.

According to Adheeb, the Artur brothers had previously invested in the country through a registered joint venture company with members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Adheeb said he “advised them to leave peacefully and they agreed to sort out their visa and leave. They have now left.”

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Interpol red notice issued for arrest of ‘Maleesha Hajj Group’ head

Interpol has issued a red notice to apprehend 42 year-old Ismail Abdul Latheef, the head of the ‘Maleesha Hajj and Umrah Group’ who is being sought on suspicion of fraudulently collecting funds from Hajj pilgrims.

According to local newspapers, the company’s office remained closed and the contact numbers given to the persons who paid are not in use. Clients of the company have no hope of getting to Mecca this year, according to reports.

Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told newspaper Sun that police had given Interpol information about Latheef two days ago.

The owner of the business allegedly collected MVR 68,000 (US$4400) from 175 persons who wished to go to Mecca this year to fulfill the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam.

Based on this amount, Latheef is thought to have fraudulently obtained up to MVR 11.9 million (US$77,0000).

Police have previously said that attempts are ongoing to locate and summon Latheef for investigation.

According to police, Latheef’s whereabouts are unknown. It was possible that he had fled the country, they stated.

Authorities have claimed that 52 complaints have so far been received over alleged payments made to the Maleesha Hajj and Umra Group.

Some people who paid to the company have also complained at different media outlets.

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Criminal Court issues Interpol red notice to arrest three suspects in Rf18 million fraud

The Criminal Court has issued an Interpol red notice for the arrest of three suspects involved in a Rf18 million (US$1.1 million) fraud case.

The three men are accused of transferring money to the Bank of Maldives from the State Bank of India joint saving account of the three owners of the motorcycle business ‘Sheesha’.

In a statement, police identified the three suspects as Ibrahim Shahid of Thulhadhoo in Baa Atoll, Mohamed Mustafa of Lhaimagu in Shaviyani Atoll and Mohamed Muthausim of the same island.

Following the incident, the three owners of Sheesha: Ahmed Hassan Manik, Hussain Husham and Ibrahim Husham, met with the press and said that the State Bank of India should take full responsibility for the fraud.

Hussain Husham told the media that the total amount of Rf 18 million was taken in two transactions and that the first transaction was made on November 9 and with the withdrawal of Rf 8.5 Million.

Later on December 20, the culprits withdrew a further Rf 9.5 Million from their account.

Hussain told the press that SBI transferred the money to an account with Bank of Maldives, using a forged document faxed to SBI.

He said the document had the name and signature of Ahmed Hassan Manik, and that the money transferred to Bank of Maldives account had already been withdrawn when they came to know about it.

He also said police arrested one person in connection with the case, but that the court had released him after determining that he was arrested unlawfully.

Husaain said the company had decided to sue the State Bank of India and that they should take full responsibility.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police arrested the head of the group with some documents.

‘’But the court released him and he immediately left the country,’’ Shiyam said. ‘’We have another person held in detention, and we are looking for other three suspects including the person we arrested before.’’

Shiyam said yesterday an Interpol red notice was issued and that police were trying to locate the individuals through Interpol system.

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Interpol denies media reports of Maldivians’ involvement in World Cup terror plot

Interpol has criticised media reports in the Maldives following claims that it was hunting two Maldivian nationals over alleged plans to attack the 2011 Cricket World Cup event, adding that it had no such information.

In a statement released today, Interpol said a report in local newspaper Haveeru inaccurately cited it as stating that it was searching for two Maldivians suspected of involvement in a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LET) terror plot.

Interpol also reiterated claims made earlier today by the Maldives’ National Security Advisor denying any knowledge of Maldivian involvement in any reported terrorist plots targeting the Cricket World Cup.

“An article entitled ‘Interpol on the hunt for two Maldivians involved in planning Cricket World Cup attack’ and published in the newspaper Haveeru on 26 March 2011 in the Maldives contains serious inaccuracies which require a correction by the newspaper and an express denial from Interpol,” the organisation stated.

“The article states that ‘Two Maldivian nationals, who are believed to be connected to a Pakistani terrorist group, are now wanted by the International Criminal Police Organisation – INTERPOL – for conspiring to  attack international cricketers during the ongoing  2011 Cricket World Cup.’  In fact, there are currently no Maldivians wanted for arrest by Interpol for conspiring to attack any of the 2011 Cricket World Cup events.”

Interpol claimed that a reported confirmation from ” officials” cited in the article, alleging the involvement of “four Pakistanis, two Maldivians and an Afghan” in an alleged terror plot had not been made as the organisation had not received any such information.

Interpol’s statement followed similar claims by Ameen Faisal, the Maldives’ National Security Advisor, who denied that the country’s security forces had been involved in any investigations concerning Maldivian involvement in alleged terror attacks targeting the ICC tournament.

Faisal today issued a statement claiming that Iqbal Mohamed, a suspect taken into custody earlier this month and identified in press reports as being involved in alleged plans to strike the tournament, had been arrested solely in connection to an earlier attack that occurred in Male’ in 2007.  After being taken into police custody on March 10, Iqbal was released by the Criminal Court this week after police reportedly did not supply required information to detain him further.

The statement from Faisal was released to media just twenty four hours after Maldivian police told Minivan News that they had not been supplied with any information relating to an Interpol hunt for two Maldivians accused of being part of a wider terrorist group targeting the high profile cricket tournament being held in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.

Attempting to clarify the arrest of a terrorist suspect made at Male’ International Airport earlier this month, Faisal stated that he had no knowledge of any involvement of Iqbal in plans to attack the Cricket World Cup as alleged by international media, including the Times of India.

“Iqbal Mohamed is a Maldivian citizen who had an Interpol Red Notice issued against him in connection to an improvised explosive device which was detonated in Sultan Park, Male’ on Saturday, 29 September 2007,” said Faisal in a statement.

“Iqbal Mohamed was travelling back to the Maldives from Pakistan, via Colombo, when the Interpol’s Major Events’ Support Team, who was in operation due to the ICC Cricket World Cup, identified him and informed the Maldivian authorities in coordination with the security agencies of our friendly neighbouring countries.”

Faisal added that the Maldives had been grateful for the assistance provided by Interpol and regional police services.

Iqbal’s arrest was related to questioning over a homemade bomb attack in Male’ in 2007, where a device built from components such as a gas cylinder, a washing machine motor and a mobile phone exploded injuring 12 tourists – several seriously.

Although police sources have previously claimed that the suspect was believed to have been in Pakistan at the time of the bombing, Iqbal had still been wanted by authorities as part of their ongoing investigations into the 2007 attack over an alleged role in the plan.

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