Police have launched a manhunt for two convicts serving life sentences who escaped from Maafushi jail on Friday night (October 17).
Police intelligence learned around 8:15pm that cell mates Ibrahim Shahum Adam, 23, from Galolhu Cozy in Malé, and Fariyash Ahmed, 26, from Javahiruvaadhee in Gaaf Alif Maamendhoo, had broken out, police revealed in a statement last night.
Police asked the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) around 8:30pm to check their cell.
The pair reportedly escaped through a ventilation shaft from the ‘Pentagon’ unit.
Home Ministry’s Media Coordinator Thazmeel Abdul Samadh told Minivan News today that the suspects might still be in Maafushi.
A joint search effort involving police, MCS and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is ongoing to check the area around the prison as well as warehouses and guest houses on the island, Thazmeel said.
The MNDF’s coastguard is searching the sea around Maafushi, he added.
Police said today that an investigating team and an operation team were sent to Maafushi and were currently searching the island as well as nearby uninhabited islands and resorts.
Thazmeel said nearby resorts have been informed about the breakout and stressed that the government was employing “all available resources” to find the escapees.
Police have urged anyone with information of the escaped convicts to call the police hotline number 3322111 or the serious and organised crime department at 9911099.
“Every prison escape is an opportunity for Prison Officers to identify the loop holes and improve the system while we hunt them down,” Home Minister Umar Naseer tweeted today.
In March 2013, Shahum was convicted on terrorism charges in connection with the murder of Mohamed Hussain, 17, from Maafanu Beauty Flower in Malé in July 2010.
Fariyash was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Mohamed Shihab, from Kaduolhi in Gaaf Alif Villigili, on the island of Maamendhoo in 2006.
Shahum is also on trial for the murder of 21-year-old Ahusan Basheer near the NC Park in Malé. The Criminal Court has concluded hearings of the case and is due to deliver a verdict.
Shahum allegedly stabbed Basheer in February 2011 after he was released by Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed following six months in remand detention. He was later taken into custody from an uninhabited island.
In June 2011, the Criminal Court found Shahum guilty of assault and battery in an unrelated case and sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment.
The victim told the court that Shahum attacked him with a wooden plank after he refused to have tea with him. The victim explained that Shahum was studying with him at an Imam training course and that he had to drop out of the course due to haraassment from Shahum
Shahum was also among nine individuals detained and labelled by police as “dangerous criminals” involved in violent assault.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has meanwhile blamed the government’s “irresponsibility and incompetence” for the jail break.
In a press statement today, the main opposition party contended that public safety has been lost while murders, violent assaults, and drug trafficking has reached “extreme levels” under the current administration.
The public has been expressing concern with the government’s inability to bring perpetrators who commit crimes in “broad daylight” to face justice, the party said.
The MDP called on the government to conduct a thorough investigation and hold culpable officials accountable.