The Maldives Police Service has said that it still cannot ascertain that the sex-tapes allegedly depicting Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed are genuine.
Despite the claims made by police regarding the haziness of the characters seen in the videos, both social media networks and local media have pointed the finger at Judge Hameed when reporting on the videos.
The accusations towards Hameed were supported by an earlier film – apparently taken in the same hotel room as that of the sex videos – in which he was seen discussing the ‘politicization of the Maldivian judiciary’ with a local businessman whom the media identified as Mohamed ‘Golden Lane’ Saeed.
During a press conference held by the police yesterday (December 4) evening, Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz told the press that the police have put huge efforts in identifying the characters seen in the video by utilizing on several forensic tests.
However Nawaz admitted that efforts had not been fruitful in determining the participants, let alone whether it was Hameed seen fornicating with multiple foreign women inside the hotel room.
“Nevertheless, some work regarding the investigation of this case is still proceeding. Also, we would like to inform that work will be done in the future to ensure the investigation leads to success,” Nawaz told the press.
The Superintendent also said that the police had sought “assistance from a country” – that had some relevance to the case – in the investigation process and that it was awaiting reception of some key information regarding the videos that would prove central to their investigations.
“We believe once we get this information [from abroad], more doors will be opened and more clues to the case will be revealed, to enhance our investigations,” Nawaz said.
Although Nawaz did not mention the name of the country, nor what part of the investigation in which assistance had been sought, it has been reported that the video-footage showed a hotel room in Cinnamon Grand Hotel located in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Given the large number of Maldivians traveling to Sri Lanka, it has been widely speculated that many get involved in prostitution and gambling.
Police determined to prosecute
Last August, a photograph leaked on social media showed the former Deputy Minister of Transport Ibrahim Nazim inside a casino playing roulette. The photograph clearly showed a television screen behind Nazim displaying the words “welcome to Bellagio”, suggesting the location to have been one of the Bellagio franchise casinos in Colombo.
Meanwhile, Nawaz said that the case primarily involved two criminal offences. The first offence was fornication – which under the Maldivian penal law is punishable by 100 lashes and banishment. The second was the use of video for blackmail.
Last June police arrested Ahmed Faiz – a council member of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and the then-Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry – on blackmail charges while he was allegedly trying to sell a sex-tape of the judge.
Yesterday, local newspaper Haveeru reported that police had been unable to proceed with the investigations, due to Criminal Court’s failure to provide two key court warrants requested three months ago.
Quoting an official from the Judicial Service Commission – constitutionally mandated to oversee the judiciary – the paper claimed police had sent a letter to the commission informing it of the Criminal Court’s failure to provide the required warrants. Neither the police nor the Criminal Court confirmed the claim.
However, Nawaz implicitly denied Haveeru’s account, telling the press yesterday that police had not come across major barriers in proceeding with the investigations. He maintained that in an investigative perspective the enhancement and analysis of video and audio never was an easy thing to do.
He also reiterated that the police were committed and determined to ensuring the investigation still succeeds, and that they wished to successfully prosecute all those involved in the videos as soon as possible.
Although fornication and adultery remains a criminal offence under the Maldivian law, a successful conviction only arises from either a confession or evidence given by four male eyewitnesses, as prescribed under Islamic Sharia’.
Videos and photographs will only amount to circumstantial evidence and would not suffice a conviction.
Subsequently, regardless of the public circulation of the videos, all parties seen in the video will remain ‘innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt’, as per the article 51(h) of the constitution.