Detained parliamentarian Ahmed Mahloof has been denied family visits over the discovery of areca nuts in his pocket, as police prepare to bring charges against him.
Mahloof’s wife, Nazra Naseem, said police cancelled a family visit planned for Saturday on the discovery of the “illegal” areca nuts.
The most high-profile defector from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Mahloof has been attending Majlis (parliament) because of a rule specifying that detained lawmakers must be brought to sessions.
“MPs have access to things like areca nuts in the Majlis during meal times. I think that if it is unlawful, it is the police’s responsibility to make sure these things are inaccessible to him,” Nazra said.
Police said they had sent charges of disobedience to order against Mahloof to the prosecutor general’s office relating to events at a protest on March 25, but said it would be for state prosecutors to decide whether to proceed with the case.
Mahloof, a close associate of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in February after he publicly criticised President Abdulla Yameen and the government.
He is now part of the Alliance against Brutality, an anti-government coalition. He was arrested at an opposition protest on March 25 on suspicion of disobedience to orders after police said he had passed a barricade.
Mahloof has been repeatedly re-detained since then after refusing to accept a conditional release that would require him to stay away from protests for 30 days.
Other opposition figures have suggested that authorities may be planning separate charges against him.
Sheikh Imran Abdulla, head of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, tweeted that the government was seeking to press terrorism charges against Mahloof.
After his latest court hearing, an altercation took place in which Mahloof’s wife said police pinched her, twisted her arm and tore buttons from her top. Police have denied this.
Nazra has filed complaints with the Human Rights Commission and Police Integrity Commission over the incident on Monday.
Jeehan Mohmood, a member of the Human Rights Commission, confirmed that it was investigating Nazra’s case, while Abdul Aziz Yoosuf, director general of the Police Integrity Commission, told Minivan News the PIC was also looking into the incident.
“My hope is that the independent institutions will look into my case as tomorrow another woman may be treated the same way,” said Nazra.
Separately, the Human Rights Commission is also reviewing 20 cases of protesters who were released from detention on condition they stay away from protests, Jeehan told Minivan News.
Photo of police forcing Mahloof into a police vehicle on April 3, taken by Munshid Mohamed.