Police are investigating an incident in which 168 bottles of alcohol were discovered last night in a car registered to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, on the same day controversial liquor licensing regulations were unveiled by the Ministry of Economic Development.
Sergeant Abdul Muhsin from the Maldives Police Service said four foreigners had been arrested over the incident, including three Sri Lankans and one Indian man. The investigation is ongoing, he noted.
Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said he had spoken with police about the incident “and it looks like a set up.”
“Whoever brought that booze out from their warehouse knew it would be confiscated. The brands are not what you would call hot sellers – it was menthol gin and watered-down whiskey.”
Sergeant Muhsin identified the seized bottles as ‘King Roberts’ gin and ‘Muirhead’ whiskey.
Zuhair said he suspect the foreigners had been bribed “and were connected to certain political opponents of Moosa Manik, owing to the fact he is currently in Singapore.”
Adhil Saleem, State Minister for Economics Development, said he believed the incident to be “a very childish attack to damage [Moosa’s] reputation.”
“The same thing happened to me over the allegations I was found in a guest house with bottles of vodka and underage girls,” Adhil said. “This is another attempt to damage a political opponent.”
DRP Vice President Ibrahim Shareef said he was “not surprised” at the case, “but I doubt it will go very far.”
“There have been many similar incidents in the past,” he noted, “and in the worst case scenario Reeko’s driver will be implicated and that will be the end of the story.”
He said he “was sure” the incident was not a set up.
Vice President of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Umar Naseer said the bottles were connected to Moosa and that last night people had witnessed the actions of “one of the six top drug dealers in the Maldives.”
”Of course the bottles were connected to Moosa,” Umar said. ”How could somebody drive or carry something in his car without his knowledge?”
MP of DRP coalition partner the People’s Alliance (PA) Abdul Azeez Jamal Abu Bakru claimed that Zuhair’s words were not trustworthy and that the bottles must have belonged to Reeko Moosa or someone close to him.
”Why would somebody put the bottles inside Moosa’s car and try and blame him for it while he is not even in the Maldives?” he said.
Azeez added that furthermore he had information that the bottles “were supplied to celebrate the new regulations allowing alcohol on inhabited islands.”
PA Secretary General Ahmed Shareef said he would not comment on the issue.
News of the find is believed to have fuelled additional protests last night over the liquor licensing regulations published by the Ministry of Economic Development. One protest outside Iskandhar Koshi police base was eventually subdued with tear gas.