Former President Mohamed Nasheed today revealed details of the culprits he believes to have been behind the felling of the areca palm trees planted by Malé City Council (MCC) last weekend.
Speaking to the media outside of MCC office, Nasheed said he had shared the names of some of the police officers involved with the council, after it had requested the public to submit any relevant information.
Around 25 areca palm trees planted on both sides of Majeedhee Magu – the city’s main thoroughfare road – were chopped in the early hours of October 24 by a group of masked men wielding machetes.
Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer revealed in a tweet today that he has received Nasheed’s report.
“This govt will NOT ask Police/MNDF to carryout anything unlawful,” wrote Naseer.
Nasheed alleged that two men were arrested by Maafannu police at around 3am following the incident and that a senior official from the Special Operations (SO) unit arrived and demanded the arrested men to be put into an SO vehicle which arrived simultaneously.
Two officers from Maafannu Police followed the SO vehicle after the arrested men were handed over to the SO unit only to find that the vehicle entered Iskandhar Koshi police headquarters, explained the former president
He also accused one high-ranking police officer of revising a statement given by a Maafannu police officer at the scene that night, cutting down the two-page statement to half a page and instructing other officers at the station not to speak about the incident.
Meanwhile, a police media official told Minivan News that a professional standards investigation is being carried out after the increasing prevalence of reports of police involvement in the incident. The home minister has also instructed all police executives to assist the Police Integrity Commission it any investigation.
While speaking at a separate conference with all MDP Malé MPs, Galolhu Uthuru MP Eva Abdulla condemned the government for its lack of response over the recent events happening in the capital.
“With the lack of response from the government after the palm trees incident and the fear spreading the society at the moment, it is clear to us that the government wants the society to remain in in this fear,” said Eva.
MDP Spokesperson and Maafannu Uthuru MP Imthiyas Fahmy accused the government of “state sponsored terrorism” by its refusal to take adequate action for the crimes happening in Malé.
In a statement released on October 25, Malé City Mayor Mohamed Shihab condemned the chopping down of the palm trees by saying that the “unlawful act was an injury caused to all citizens of the Maldives and especially the beloved people of Malé”.
Meanwhile, Former Police Commissioner and Jumhoree Party MP Abdulla Riyaz told local media that police should have stopped the group of people in the act and said that the police have the technology and competence to arrest the people involved – referring to an extensive network of cameras in the capital.