Missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan’s family has accused police of negligence in investigating the reporter’s disappearance and has filed a formal complaint with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).
Speaking at a press conference today, Rilwan’s sister Mariyam Fazna noted that 82 days had passed without apparent progress in police investigations.
“Our family is in deep mourning. We have no way forward. We believe police negligence is behind the lack of progress in finding Rilwan,” said Fazna.
The police have failed to take the case seriously, despite an abduction outside Rilwan’s apartment building on the night of his disappearance and reports that he had received numerous death threats and had been followed, she said.
Eyewitnesses had reported the abduction at knifepoint at around 2am on August 8, but police only took their statements on August 14, the family said. The police had also failed to track down and search the car used in the abduction.
“If the abduction had been investigated immediately at the right time, the police would have been able to find the victim and clarify if it is our brother or not,” Fazna said.
The police only searched Rilwan’s apartment 29 hours after the abduction was reported and searched his office 11 days afterwards. The police also failed to make a public announcement on Rilwan’s disappearance – despite a request by the family – and did not inform the public on how to act if they had any information related to the case, the family explained further.
Meanwhile, Rilwan’s sister Fathimath Shehenaz condemned the police for disrespecting a family in grief, pointing to a police statement on September 23 in which they claimed political parties were using the family to obtain information about the investigation.
“These words are extremely disrespectful to a family suffering the disappearance of a loved one,” she said.
The People’s Majlis on Tuesday threw out a 5055 signature petition urging MPs to pressure police for a through and speedy investigation. The parliament secretariat later admitted the rejection was “a mistake,” according to MP Imthiyaz Fahmy who sponsored the petition.
Four men have been arrested over Rilwan’s disappearance, but only one man remains in custody at present. The police have revealed few details on the case.
Home Minister Umar Naseer said he believed Rilwan is alive and promised to return him safe to his family. He has also acknowledged involvement of criminal gangs in the case.
Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.
Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concludes the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.
The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.
The NGO on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.