Alhan alleges involvement of senior government officials in stabbing

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Alhan Fahmy has said that he believes senior officials of the current government was behind a knife attack on February 1 that left the opposition MP’s left leg paralysed.

Speaking at the last sitting of the 17th People’s Majlis today, the outgoing MP for Feydhoo noted the violent attacks on MPs during the past five years of multi-party politics and fledgling democracy, including the brutal murder of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Both MPs and the public were left in a state fear by the attacks on parliamentarians, Alhan said.

Alhan was stabbed in Malé on the evening of February 1, 2014, while at the Breakwater cafe in the artificial beach area of the capital.

The results of the final MDP parliamentary primaries were officially revealed the same day, with Alhan losing the Feydhoo constituency seat to Mohamed Nihad, who received 316 votes to the incumbent’s 154.

After the results of the primary contest emerged, Alhan alleged irregularities in the vote via social media, declaring his intention to challenge the outcome.

Two suspects – Mohamed Sameeh of Shiny, Fuvahmulah, and Mohamed Naseem, of Ulfamanzil, Hithadhoo – were arrested by the police in connection with the case.

The case against the two suspects have since been forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office for prosecution.

Alhan has had a chequered recent past with the MDP, rejoining the party in June last year after an apparently acrimonious departure in April of the previous year. Then party vice president, Alhan was ejected – alongside then party President Dr Ibrahim Didi – after the pair publicly questioned the party’s official interpretation of the February 7 ousting of President Mohamed Nasheed.

The Feydhoo MP subsequently organised a rally – sparsely attended – calling for the freeing of the MDP from its talismanic leader Nasheed. Alhan’s soon joined the government-aligned Jumhooree Party,

Alhan was initially elected to parliament on a Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) ticket, making him one of the few MPs to have been a member of almost every major political party represented in parliament, barring the DRP’s splinter party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

He was dismissed from the DRP in 2010 for breaking the party’s whip line in a no-confidence vote against then Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmed Shaheed

Last August, Alhan was summoned by police in connection with the alleged blackmailing of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, using footage of the judge having sex with two foreign women said to be prostitutes.

The MP tweeted a screenshot of a text message he claimed had been sent to his mobile phone by Superintendent of Police Mohamed Riyaz. The text read: “Alhan, will make sure you are fully famed (sic) for blackmailing Justice Ali Hameed. You don’t know who we are.’’


Former President Nasheed asks High Court to expedite case concerning Hulhumale’ magistrate court bench

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has asked the High Court to expedite the case filed by his legal team challenging the legitimacy of Hulhumale’ magistrate court’s bench.

Speaking to Minivan News today, former Human Resource Minister Hassan Latheef – a member of Nasheed’s legal team – said that the case has remained stalled at the High Court for over a year now.

“We filed the case at the High Court after we noticed that there were many issues regarding how the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has composed the bench,” Latheef explained.

“For one thing, the JSC does not have to bring selected judges from throughout the country and compose a bench to conduct the trial of a specific individual, that is not the normal procedure.”

The original case filed at the Hulhumale’ court – concerning the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – needed to be concluded soon because former President Nasheed did not wish to have pending criminal charges, Latheef said.

“But the case at the Hulhumale’ Court can only be continued when the High Court concludes this case we have filed at the High Court,” he noted.

“’When we filed the case at the High Court, on April 1, 2013 the court issued an injunction ordering Hulhumale’ court to halt the trial against Nasheed until the court concluded the case we have filed.”

The case filed by Nasheed’s legal team challenging the legality of the magistrate court bench was stalled after the JSC suspended the former High Court Chief Judge – who was presiding over the case – pending an investigation over a disciplinary matter.

During the hearings held at the High Court, the JSC contended that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the case as the panel of judges presiding over Nasheed’s trial was appointed based on counsel from the Supreme Court

Nasheed said at the time that he was  “prepared” to justify the reasons for the arrest of Judge Abdulla, and said he was ready to appear in court to defend the decision.

Nasheed also dismissed accusations of the High Court, the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general that he had ordered the military to arrest Judge Abdulla unlawfully.

“I did nothing unlawful during my tenure,” he insisted.

Nasheed also urged the public to attend the trial and witness proceedings, alleging that the case was politically motivated.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests in January, leading the Nasheed administration to appeal for international assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.


MP Jabir in Malaysia for medical treatment

Jailed opposition MP Abdulla Jabir is seeking medical treatment in Malaysia, local media have reported.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP was hospitalised on April 8 after suffering respiratory difficulties. He is currently serving a one year jail sentence for refusal to provide a urine sample to police.

Jabir left the Maldives at 9:15 pm on Friday night without a set return date, the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) told Minivan News.

Doctors at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) recommended Jabir go abroad for an examination of his heart, the MCS told local media. The service is not available in the Maldives, the MCS said.

Jabir was hospitalised for two weeks and transferred back to Maafushi prison on April 22 with a device to facilitate breathing – reportedly obtained from Singapore.

At the time of hospitalisation, the MP’s wife Dhiyana Saeed said Jabir had been born with birth defects which caused a sleep disorder called sleep apnoea. The disorder is characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.

In a text to MDP parliamentary group members, Dhiyana said at the time: “The pulmonologist who saw him says his previous surgeries for severe sleep apnoea has failed and needs to be admitted.”

In an interview with VNews earlier this month, Dhiyana said doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stopped four times every hour.

Jabir was sentenced to jail in February for failure to provide a urine sample for a drug test during a police raid on the island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody at the time. Officers alleged they found large amounts of drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.

Seven people, including the MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, face separate charges for refusal to provide urine, alcohol possession and cannabis possession. They include former President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz, the manager of Jabir’s Alidhoo resort Jadhulla Jaleel and son of former Special Envoy to the President Ibrahim Hussein Zaki, Hamdan Zaki.

All seven have accused the police of brutality during their arrest.

The Prosecutor General also charged Jabir for possessing cannabis but the Criminal Court acquitted by the MP citing insufficient evidence.

Charges of alcohol possession remain outstanding, with the last hearing of Jabir and Hamid’s joint trial being suspended due to Jabir’s hospitalisation.


Yameen concedes that GMR is owed some compensation

With additional reporting by Ahmed Rilwan

President Abdulla Yameen has today said the government was sure it would have to pay some compensation for cancelling the agreement made with the Indian infrastructure giant GMR to lease Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

“The truth we should accept is that a government with all its sovereignty has given permission to a foreign party under an agreement,” said the president.

“So we believe some sort of financial compensation must be paid to them. A compensation must be given for taking the airport [from them]. What we are trying to make sure this compensation is not big but average.”

Yameen was speaking to the press before leaving for Singapore to take part in the Maldives Investment Forum – an event he described as “the first step taken towards a fresh start for the Maldives in today’s world economy”.

In November 2012, President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s cabinet declared the GMR agreement void ab initio – invalid from the outset – and ordered the developer to leave, just two years into its 25 year concession agreement.

President Yameen explained to the press today that his advisors believed that, if the arbitration panel could be persuaded that the deal had been anulled due to the airport’s national importance, the compensation would be small.

GMR had initially claimed US$1.4 billion – a figure greater than the Maldives’ annual state budget.

Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) formed part of the Waheed coalition government, though it’s leader – former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – has since accuse Waheed of going against his party’s advice by failing to reach an amicable agreement with GMR and the Indian government.

During his first official state visit to Indian in January, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh requested President Yameen to “amicably” settle the GMR airport issue.

Earlier this month, Yameen had said that the out-of-court amount sought by the infrastructure company was too great, and that he would now await the outcome of proceedings, which could take up to another two months.

The US$511 million concession agreement to manage and upgrade the airport – awarded under the former government of Mohamed Nasheed – was the single largest foreign investment in the Maldives’ history.

President Yameen will tomorrow give the keynote speak at the landmark investment forum, as he seeks to generate interest from foreign investors for five ‘mega-projects’ – one of which is the further development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).

As part of the president’s attempts to lure foreign investors back to the country, he has promised special economic zones which hopes will be “likened to cities in Dubai or the Emirates” and “the [business] environment we have in Singapore.”

Senior management of Singapore’s Changi International Airport visited the Maldives earlier this month, with Yameen explaining the purpose of the visit to press this afternoon.

“Changi’s management will be our final consultant with the terminal [project] and other consultancies required for the airport,” he explained. “We want to seek technical expertise and information on how to do things from Singapore Changi.”

“The project has progressed far now, Changi has expressed interest. So we believe all the supervisory and consultancy work of this terminal will be carried out by Changi.”


All women arrested at Anbaraa island festival transferred to house arrest

Yesterday evening, police transferred all the women taken into custody at the Anbaraa music festival to house arrest.

Nineteen women were amongst the 79 people arrested on suspicion of being under the influence, and in possession of, illegal drugs on Friday (April 18).

An official from the Home Ministry told online newspaper CNM that the women were transferred to house arrest due to a lack of space in detention centres and difficulties in catering for them.

He told the paper that they were all transferred under the authority held by the home minister. He further noted that the court warrant to extend their detention period stated that they should be detained in a place determined by the Home Ministry.

Meanwhile former President and acting president of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mohamed Nasheed told press yesterday that, while the police told the court everyone arrested had tested positive to illegal drugs, he had information that they had not all been tested when they were summoned to the Criminal Court to have their detention extended on Saturday (April 19) .

Nasheed said that the only situation where police should raid any place in the manner they did, is when their lives were at risk or if the police believed they might be attacked when trying to arrest a person.

The opposition leader said that he did not understand the reason why police had to raid an island firing rubber bullets and shouting when its inhabitants were a group of young people entertaining themselves.

Nasheed also alleged that, after raiding the island, police officers handcuffed all the young people and went fishing.

He repeated the allegations he previously made against Tourism Minister and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Deputy Leader Ahmed Adheeb and said that he was one of the event organisers.

Nasheed suggested a cross-cabinet plan in which it is one minister’s duty was to gather all the young people to one place while the other minister’s duty could be arresting all of them at once.

The PPM have described Nasheed’s comments as an “uncivilised” attempt to sabotage the implementation of its youth manifesto as well as the other youth development efforts of the government.

The Maldives Police Service yesterday denied allegations by the opposition MDP that constitutional rights and procedures were violated in the arrest made in Anbaraa.

The MDP’s rights committee has contended that procedures specified in the constitution for arrest or detention – such as informing suspects of the reasons in writing within 24 hours, providing access to legal counsel, and presenting suspects before a judge within 24 hours for a remand hearing – were breached by the police.

Moreover, the committee alleged that police did not act in accordance with regulations governing the exercise of law enforcement powers concerning arrest and detention.

Last weekend police searched 198 persons and arrested 79, including one minor, during a music festival on Anbaraa island in Vaavu atoll.

Home Minister Umar Naseer the following day in a tweet said that law will be enforced without any exemptions, writing that “anybody can party but no drugs on the menu.’’


Kaashidhoo MP Jabir returns to prison after treatment

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Jabir has been transferred back to prison after receiving treatment for breathing difficulties.

Jabir was admitted to the hospital on April 8, with his wife Dhiyana Saeed at the time telling local media that he was brought to Malé to be treated for respiratory defects with which he had been born.

The Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) has told local media that Jabir was discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon and was handed to Malé Jail’s medical department.

The Kaashidhoo MP is currently serving a one year sentence for a failure to provide urine to police for testing.

An official from the MCS told local newspapers that Jabir had requested a medical test of his heart but that the service was not available in Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

He said that the service was now trying to facilitate a way to permit him to go abroad to do the medical test, adding that the MCS would obtain all the medical documents of Jabir before submitting them to the medical board.

Local media has also reported that Jabir was returned to jail with a bilevel positive airway pressure machine – reportedly obtained from Singapore

In a text to MDP parliamentary group members, Dhiyana said: “The pulmonologist who saw him says his previous surgeries for severe sleep apnoea has failed and needs to be admitted.”

Sleep apnoea is a type of sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.

In an interview with Vnews earlier this month, Dhiyana has said her husband had been in hospital since April 8, revealing that doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stopped four times every hour.

MCS Spokesperson Hassan Zilaal was not responding to calls at time of press.

In February 2014, Jabir was sentenced to jail after being found him guilty of failing to provide a urine sample to police to run a drug test following his arrest on the island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody on November 16 after police raided and searched Hondaidhoo with a court warrant. Officers alleged they found large amounts of drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.

Seven of the suspects, including the MDP MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Jabir were among those charged.

At the time, police submitted cases against former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to the former President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz. The manager of Jabir’s resort J Alidhoo Jadhulla Jaleel and Zaki’s son Hamdan Zaki also face charges.

The prosecutor general also charged Jabir for possessing cannabis before he was acquitted by the court on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to prove that he was in possession of cannabis when detained by police.

Charges of alcohol possession remain outstanding, with the last hearing of Jabir and Hamid’s joint trial being suspended due to Jabir’s hospitalisation.

Following the ‘Hondaidhoo’ incident the Prosecutor General has also charged Jabir for possessing alcohol. The trial of the case still continues in the Criminal Court.


Defense witnesses tell court murder suspect was playing video games when incident occurred

Three defense witnesses of Muhujath Abdul Naasih who was arrested in connection with the death of 21-year-old Abdul Muheeth ‘Bobby’ of Galolhu Veyru have told the court that Naasih was with them playing video games when the incident occurred.

Local media present at the Criminal Court today reported that the three witnesses said Naasih was with them playing video games from 10pm to 2am the night Muheeth was murdered.

The witnesses said that at 2am they went to Petral Hotel where they met another friend before going for a ride around Malé.

They told the court that while they were riding on two motorbikes they clashed into each other, claiming that that was how Naasih got the bruise on his leg which police had claimed was obtained during the attack on Muheeth.

According to the witnesses they took Naasih to ADK hospital and after treating the injury they all went home.

Haveeru has previously reported that police had said phone call recordings revealed that Naasih’s leg was injured by another minor was involved in the murder case who had been carrying a sharp weapon that night.

Before concluding today’s hearing the presiding judge announced that the next hearing would be held on May 6.

On February 19, 2012, Muheeth was rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital after being stabbed at 1:45am near the Finance Ministry building. He later died during treatment.

In May 2013, the Juvenile Court issued the death sentence to two 18 year-olds found guilty of the murder.

A total of three minors were charged in the case, with one later acquitted. The two sentenced to death are both 18 years-old, although both were minors at the time of the murder,

At the time of Muheeth’s death Police Inspector Abdulla Satheeh told the press that the investigation showed that the victim had no involvement in gang-related crimes, had no police record, and was working in a responsible job at the time.

The three main suspects were identified at the time as Muhujath Ahmed Naasih of Abulagee Ge on Gahdhoo in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll, Mohamed Maimoon of Zaithoonige, on Naifaru of Lhaviyani Atoll and Ali Mushahfau of Sultan Villa on Maradhoo in Seenu Atoll.

Bobby’s murder prompted a public outpouring of grief, with the ‘Justice for Bobby’ Facebook page receiving over 16,000 members, and a ten-minute silence observed at the scene of the murder.


Criminal Court extends detention period of all arrested from Anbaraa festival

The Criminal Court has extended the pretrial detention of the 78 people arrested from the island of Anbaraa to 10 days.

Yesterday police searched more than 200 persons and arrested 79, including one minor, during a music festival on Ambara island in Vaavu atoll.

Of the 79 persons arrested 19 were females, with local media reporting that all those arrested tested positive for illicit drugs.

When those arrested were summoned to the Criminal Court last night, a group of people gathered in the area attempted to create unrest with police arresting three persons near the court, local media reported.

Local media also reported that one expat was among the 79 persons arrested. Minivan News understands that it was a Malaysian national identified as Wen Que that was arrested from the island.

According to media reports, the minor that was arrested was summoned to the Juvenile Court and her detention period extended to five days house arrest.

Home Minister Umar Naseer in a tweet has said that law will be enforced without any exemptions, writing that “anybody can party but no drugs on the menu.’’

Newspaper Haveeru has reported that the son of Maldives National Defence Force Chief Major General Ahmed Shiyam was among those arrested. The son of prominent businessman ‘South’ Thaufeeq and the son of Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) MP-elect Brigadier General (retired) Ibrahim Mohamed were also reported to have been arrested at the festival.

Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed this morning gave an interview to MDP-aligned radio station Minivan 97, saying that the raid was politically motivated suggesting that Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was responsible.

Nasheed alleged that Adeeb had purposefully put all the youth into the same place in order to arrest them and took them all.

He also said that he did not believe all the young people that went there went with the intention of abusing illicit drugs.

Nasheed alleged that President Abdulla Yameen and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom were trying to rule the country by forcibly controlling the youth – calling for people to come out and protect young people.

He recalled an incident that occurred in 1979 when the then-President Gayoom arrested a large group of youth before allegedly torturing them. He suggested that the youth did not open their mouths to talk about it until Gayoom’s 30 year administration was over.

Witness account

A person present at the festival told Minivan News that on Friday night at about 12am he started hearing loud explosions.

“I thought one of the speakers had a fault but then I kept hearing that sound from different sides so I went out to see what was going on,’’ he said.

“When I came out the whole place was full of smoke and I thought it was part of their plan to make the event more enjoyable.’’

He said he then saw the tip of a gun coming slowly towards him.

“I still thought it was a toy gun and it was part of their plan to surprise people but then I saw the face of a person wearing a mask and then I saw police the police uniform,’’ he said.

“The police officer came and pointed the gun at my forehead and told me to get down on my knees, I just automatically fell down on my knees with my hands on my head – it was like a computer game scene.’’

The source said that he then looked around and realised that there was a police raid on the island and that the loud sound he had heard came from the smoke grenades the police had thrown all over.

“The police were very violent, the male police officers ran after the males and the female officers chased down the females, they used batons and swimming fins to beat people,’’ he said. “Then we were all handcuffed behind our backs and made to lie on the ground for more than an hour and a half.’’

He said the police mostly arrested those who were in possession of illicit drugs.

“Lots and lots of illegal drugs were found inside the tents, mostly hash oil and ecstasy pills,’’ the source said. “Those who were not in possession of any illicit drugs were released after the search.’’

He also said that all the females that went to the party were arrested except for two. He denied the allegations that some of the girls were naked when police raided the island.

“No one was naked but they were all under dressed,’’ he added.


MBC to investigate DhiFM Plus after upside down photo of commission chair broadcast

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has today started investigating a case DhiFM Plus’s airing of an upside down photos of the commission’s Chair Mohamed Shaheeb.

Yesterday DhiFM Plus aired pictures of Shaheeb following the commission’s warning that measures would be taken against the private TV station for airing similar pictures of senior government officials and politicians.

The commission has repeatedly informed the station that such actions violated the MBC code of ethics.

Speaking during a press conference today, MBC’s Director General Mohamed Nasih said that the investigation was initiated by the commission itself, local media reported.

Naish was quoted as saying that Commission Chair Shaheeb would not take part in any meetings held regarding the issue as the case was related to him and so may represent a conflict of interest.

Shaheeb told the media that the commission had not decided what action it would take against DhiFM Plus, noting that the commission did not have the authority to withhold the broadcasting license of any TV station despite being the institution empowered to issue such licenses.

He said that the commission has to file a case with the court if it wished to withhold the license of a TV station.

In a statement given yesterday, MBC said that members unanimously decided to issue a warning to Broadcasting Maldives Pvt Ltd – the company that operates DhiTV – under article 44(a)(2) of the Broadcasting Commission Act after the TV station had aired Election Commission (EC) members’ photos upside down.

The upside down photo of MBC’s Shaheeb on DhiFM’s visual radio channel – also aired on DhiTV during its downtime – was accompanied by a news sticker that read, ‘Experts say that making such a harsh announcement while [we] have been apologising in compliance with the Broadcasting Commission’s instructions is a step backwards for democracy’.

On March 24, 2014, MBC asked private media outlet DhiFM Plus to issue a public apology for broadcasting the upside down picture of former Elections Commissioner President Fuwad Thowfeek.

In a statement issued at the time, the commission noted that the act was in violation of the broadcasting code of practice and that it had violated the honour of Thowfeek

On February 12, 2014, the MBC advised private TV station DhiTV and its sister company, the radio station DhiFM Plus, to stop using the upside down images Thowfeek.

MBC had given similar advice to the two stations in November last year after they had shown upside down photos of three members of the EC – Thowfeek, Ahmed Fayaz, and Ali Mohamed Manik – with a caption alleging that they had committed electoral fraud in the annulled September 7 presidential election.

The broadcasting commission is a seven-member body entrusted with implementation of broadcasting policy, regulation of broadcasting industry, and the promotion of responsible broadcasting.

It was formed in 2010 under the Broadcasting Act.