Court extends detention of Afrasheem murder suspects, MDP raises concerns of ‘politically motivated’ arrests

Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer.

The Criminal Court has opted to extend the detention period of four suspects accused of involvement in the murder of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, as parliament’s ’241′ Security Services Committee today meets to discuss politician safety.

Authorities today confirmed that the four suspects, which the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has alleged include two “front-line activists”, would be kept in custody for an extra 15 days as the investigation into the murder of the MP continued.

The high profile murder has been met with growing speculation from politicians over potential political or religious motives, yet police have so far provided no details on the nature of the murder, despite allegations and counter claims appearing in the media.

The MDP yesterday  expressed concern that the “brutal murder of a respected and elected member of the Parliament” was potentially being used to frame political opponents. The party has therefore called for “calm and restraint”, while also slamming the President’s Office for issuing statement claimed to connect the attack to former President Mohamed Nasheed.  Along with condemning the murder, Nasheed this week praised Dr Afrasheem for his moderate views on the country’s Islamic identity.

According to a BBC report earlier this week, the President Office’s Media Secretary “sent out a text describing  MP Afrasheem as the ‘strongest critic’ of Nasheed.”

Rules and regulations

Despite the allegations, Director of the Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid told Minivan News today that the extension of the suspects’ detention period was in accordance with rules linked to ongoing police investigations.

“Under this regulation, the police must produce anyone arrested on suspicion of criminal activity before a judge within 24 hours. The judge may order for the detention to be extended for a period of up to 15 days if the police can convince the court that a suspect needs to be detained for investigation,” he said. “In reviewing this order, the judge would consider such factors as the nature of the crime and the possibility of the suspect tampering with evidence if released for example.”

At the time of press, Maajid was unable to confirm the identity of the judge who had granted the detention extension, adding that such details could not be granted without receiving a written notice from the media. He added that the judge’s ruling had been consistent with similar investigations.

Police Spokesperson Sun-Inspector Hassan Haneef meanwhile confirmed there had been no further developments within its investigation, beyond the detention of four suspects for questioning in the case.

The Maldives police service have not so far given the identities of the suspects being detained as part of ongoing investigations.

However, the MDP yesterday released a statement claiming lawyers representing party activists Mariyam Naaifa and Ali Hashim had confirmed they had been detained as part of an investigation into the murder.

“The MDP has strongly condemned the gruesome murder of the member of parliament and scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali in the early hours of October 2, 2012,” the party claimed. “While the country is going through a difficult time following the murder of Dr. Afrasheem Ali, the MDP is deeply shocked and disturbed by the manner in which Maldives Police Services (MPS) is conducting their investigation into the incident.”

Aside from the detention of two party activists, the party added that its protest camp at the contested ‘Usfasgandu’ protest area in male’ had been searched by police officers using metal detectors yesterday.  The party has alleged that officers on the scene had confirmed the search was related to the murder of MP Afrasheem.

Speaking to Minivan News today, MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor alleged that public faith in the police’s ability to conduct impartial investigations was low.

“People have lived with it their whole lives. They have been indoctrinated into silence,” he claimed.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MP (DRP) Ali Azim told Minivan News that the ’241′ Security Services Committee was today summoning Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz to get an update on the progress of the ongoing investigation into MP Afrasheem’s murder.

Azim, a member of the security committee, claimed ahead of today’s meeting that it would be used to try and establish whether there was evidence to suggest the attack was politically or religiously motivated.

Aside from the ongoing murder investigation, media regulator the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) was also being summoned today over concerns about the media’s role in spreading “hatred” about MPs in the country.

While accepting that the constitution called for the allowance of freedom of speech within the media, Azim claimed that there were limits, alleging that the national press were not being held sufficiently accountable for their work.

“The media has been accusing MPs of wasting taxpayers’ money; of suggesting not enough work is being done and saying that no laws are being passed,” he said. “I don’t think these accusations should be there. A few TV, radio and online media services has been accusing MPs of these things.”

Azim said he accepted that media had a role to hold MPs accountable for their work, but questioned the accountability in turn being required of the country’s journalists.

The MP stressed that the outcome of today’s meeting, which was still ongoing at the time of press, remained confidential and that he would be unable to elaborate further on its outcome.

“Free speech”

Speaking to Minivan News today, Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said that he had not been given any information surrounding the MBC being summoned before the security committee.

Hiriga said that the MJA would await the outcome of the MBC’s meeting before making any official comment on the matter, but added that local media should continue to be able to practice free speech as long as it was accurate.

“I think there are a number of issues that we need to address in the Maldives media right now regarding ethics,” he said. “But our stand has always been that we stand against efforts to undermine the work of journalists and the right to a free media here in the Maldives.”

Hiriga added that while the media had “no right to lie” to members of the pubic, it was nonetheless vital to ensure freedom of the speech was being upheld in the Maldives.

“If some media for instance want to support the government or a certain political side, we have no issue with that, but the information provided must be accurate.”


18 thoughts on “Court extends detention of Afrasheem murder suspects, MDP raises concerns of ‘politically motivated’ arrests”

  1. Who is this clown ALI AZIM?

    “The media has been accusing MPs of wasting taxpayers’ money; of suggesting not enough work is being done and saying that no laws are being passed,” he said. “I don’t think these accusations should be there. A few TV, radio and online media services has been accusing MPs of these things.”

    C'mon, Mr. dishonourable MP! All that you scoundrels do is take frickin big fat salaries from us. You guys are not doing any work. You guys dont deserve even a penny from taxpayers money!

    When it comes to "parliament imthiyaazu" these bastards are all in a gang regardless of the party they are in. MPs from MDP, PPM, DRP, JP they are all one gang.

    The current parliament is the biggest menace this country is faced with now. Unless and until we fix these bastards nothing can be set right in this country!

  2. All these crimes will be scaled down if the Police and the Judiciary were doing their job. The recent report on Gangs in Male' clearly describes the incentives for these attacks, and the gang members are even given assurance that they will be released from police custody even if they are arrested. The President's Office needs to stop using MDP as a scapegoat for everything and realize that as the lead government institution they have to act more professionally and with more responsibility rather than as a kid pointing fingers at Nasheed everytime there is a crime in this country. Waheed clearly is helpless given the direction this country is going in and if he can't do his job he needs to resign. And the Police has obviously got a lot against MDP and will everything they can to make this political, and in doing so, let the real perpetrators of this crime go free to kill someone else. Shame on the police and judiciary of this country.

  3. To me this looks a case looks like the "JFK" or the "911" type where big time politics gets rid of an obstruction to reach its target, or pass the buck to an all the time enemy, destroy and win!

    If any of these are attained, it is not going to do justice to the deceased or to the victims of injustice!

    It is pathetic that oppositions are blaming the MDP for each and every thing that happens in this country!

    Since politics and religion is earmarked suspicions, it does raise the question if it were not executed by the very people involved in the operation Feb 7th coup???? It really does!!!!

    But the forensic crowd working in style at Usfasgandu (which is an area filled with dredged sand and disposed construction material) with metal detectors digging at each and everything that beeped, and digging where untouched grass grew, and passengers in passing police vehicles (when there was very sparse crowd at Usfasgandu) shouting slogans like "MDP will be washed and swept away very soon" looked a little out of proportion and are questionable!

    This is, making of a mountain out of a mole hill and are signs of passing the buck!

  4. this murder case is not a small case and it is well organized . I doubt this will be just few people and there will be hidden agendas under this murder case.

    We have not choice but to wait for the outcome of the investigation and then we need to put the pressure on the government to enforce the law with the murderer and not let him him live freely on the roads.

    This will be the way forward to bring a peace and harmony to this nation.

    Patriot . Even today your spiritual leader got the help from Maldives Police to enter one Island on his current campaign trip. Without the police , Anni would not have made to the island today.

  5. Why and who was the deceased apologizing to during his last TV show before his death??

    Take a minute and analyse every and each word he said and you will have a lead to something dreadful, unexpected but a realty we have to face.

    Even though the deceased was an MP, his rhetoric's towards opposition were acceptable as he did not personally abuse, dishonor others in a filthy way as we see from people like Umaru, and the such. Well he was actually not a politician.

    Dr.Afrasheem needs respect in terms on his views on modern Islamic ideologies and way of life. He was not perfect, but he was a well learned religious expert who reasoned. As it seems from rumors after Friday prayers, the Dr. would have 'stepped on toes' of an extremist sect of people whose beliefs were being tempered.

    Remember the american video issues recently that caused deaths all over the world? It is a fact, Maldives now has people who have such sensitive sentiments that they can kill for the smallest irritation or anger.

    Dr. Afrasheem was not a politician out to grab money and play dirty games. He just said so much truth about many things which hurt some people. You find such people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, yemen, Iran, and other extremist societies.

    Let him rest in peace..lets not use him for political advantage. Lets find out the truth, the real truth.

  6. it's saddening that our nation is falling like this. Murder is just a common issue in our society now. Politicians have fueled the fire blazing in the young and inexperienced. Their direction is nowhere. We are heading fOr a reef, beware the crash, because there is no coming back.

    after all this it's shameful that the very people who fueled this are concerned about theiR verY lives after one of the MPs die. what about about all the other innocent lives taken..

    Dr. Afrasheem will be remembered well in our nation as a honest and good person who served the nation. His death is sadening and may his family have my condolences. God bless him.

    Inshallah, whatever political or religious extremism our nation faces today, I hope can make it out alive...

  7. mody.
    Yes, I have seen capability and will of a police without whose brutality and help you would have not had a wink of sleep or peace of mind!
    You must be appreciating what especially the police SO force have done and are doing!
    Believe me, until people like you, are off their backs; they cannot and will not get the respect they truly deserve!

  8. so mdp thugs are always 'innocent' it seems. no matter how brutal their crime may be. what a joke. if u a criminal u will have to pay the time.

  9. @Patriot:

    There are many reasons why all of us are disappointed in our young institutions. Most of us have lost confidence in and respect for;
    - political parties
    - multiparty democracy
    - universal suffrage
    - the office of the President
    - independent institutions
    - Parliament
    - the opposition
    - the police
    - the judiciary

    However if we were to give up on these institutions altogether we lose all that we fought for. If we were to deny them and burn them to the ground just because some of them have acted against the interests of a popular figure whom we support then we are not calling for justice - we are just promoting our own self-interest.

  10. Some people are so damn ready to blame all of this on religious extremism that they forget the wanted, dead or alive list MDP had in their usfasgadu days.

    You dumb mdp dorks are the ones advocating murder and violence in your everyday protests(protests which urges to hang the president and other ministers, protests which give attention to sorcery, protests which belittles the religious scholars and protests which barks filth and every rotten word that exists)

    the big question is;did anyone die because of religious extremists(if we have any)or are people dieing because of the gangs fueled by politicians especially MDP who appoints gang leaders to shout filth at the defence force when they parade(believe me i have seen it with my very own eyes and with so many children around.

    But who can blame the dumb MDP when they have a seyku leader who urges the whole nation to drink alcohol and use drugs.No wonder the security forces stood against him.

    PS;the gang leader even got a job from GMR when Anni was the president; wonder what kind of qualifications he had!!!???now i'll be bashed by mdp seyku loyalists??!!!

  11. @Mody

    I object to you calling Anni a Spiritual Leader. For you to call Anni our Spiritual Leader is blasphemy.

    As Muslims there is but one God and that is Allah and Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him) is our Prophet.

    Who are you to call Patriot a non-muslim?

  12. Shimy, there are seyku loyalists in every party, not just MDP and all parties take advantage of such loyalists, these are afterall political parties. There are also politicians and business people who finance the formation of gangs and their activities against other political parties and even against civilians. These activities are not just limited to MDP alone, now you can call me a seyku loyalist of MDP for merely pointing out the obvious, but just had to tell you that we shouldn't be so blinded by politics. We can talk about politicians as much as we like but at the end of the day its' people like you and me who have the job of making them accountable. They are our elected officials afterall.

  13. Mariyam, you are right and we all have the responsibility to make these political parties and politician accountable.

    But also they have responsibility towards its members and nation too.

    Our nation is undergoing worst of its kind in our history yet many people do not want to see it and admit.

  14. @Mariyam

    That's the point.Politics and parties(and i mean for Maldives) is damn stupid. It only divides people and provokes hatred. it boggles the mind when you see the government spending so much money on these political parties when their productivity level is zilch???!!

    PS;believe it or not, MDP is the biggest seyku party among all:)

  15. I agree with Maryam crime can only be stopped when the Police and Courts start doing their work in a professional manner. At the moment they are just playing politics!

  16. During the early days of our nation becoming a republic from kingdom, people had the idea of a multi party system. The then president had said that it would be like "giving a monkey a handkerchief", for he would not know whether to wipe his back.

    I am also a believer of Democracy, I voted for the the change, but the fact was that we weren't ready for it. Experienced people had it in their mind, but in fact nobody had done a study of our current political situation at that time. Developing nations should analyze changes before they are brought into action. We on the other hand went all the way. Now we pay the price. We area small and depending nation for almost everything. we can't afford to take chances.

    It's time the parliament members realized this, but how can they, when they are not in their clear minds or have enough experience or background, or least an overall education of current affairs. it's time someone stood by these values.

    We can either get assistance from a foreign body like the UN or keep struggling until we hit rock bottom, but by then we would have suffered more than what we can recover in decades.


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