The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has revealed that a team from the commission recently visited the Maldives Police Service (MPS) headquarters to run breathalyser tests on some police officers involved in controlling the ongoing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protests.
The MDP has been protesting in the streets of Malé for a fifth consecutive day, vowing to continue demonstrating until President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administration is overthrown.
The party has alleged that the controversial transfer of power that took place on February 7 was an unlawful toppling of its government and described it as a coup d’état.
The PIC in a statement said that the commission visited the police headquarters following a report alleging that the police were acting in a “drunken” state while controlling the MDP Protests.
“Breathalyser tests are carried out to identify whether a person is in a state of intoxication or not. The report that we received regarding the allegations did not specify a number [of policemen who had consumed alcohol]. We want to release the details of this along with the test results,” said PIC President Shahinda Ismail.
Local media also quoted police media official confirming the PIC visit to police headquarters, but refused to reveal any further details.
“[PIC] are currently doing the tests. The tests are being carried out on 35 officers currently involved in operational level,” he said at the time.
Following the PIC’s breathalyser tests, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz in a statement to local newspaper Haveeru called on the commission to release the details of the tests as soon as possible.
He also told the newspaper that he believed that the commission should have released the results last night following the tests claiming that it was something the commission is “supposed to do”.
Regarding Commissioner Riyaz’s comments, PIC president Shahinda stated in the newspaper that the results would be released after a meeting with the commission members.
“We will reveal the results most likely in a press statement. We haven’t still been able to hold a meeting of the commission,” she said.
The PIC this morning released the results of the tests, refuting the allegations the police were in an intoxicated state during the protests.
The Commission said it had conducted breath analysis tests on all Specialist Operation (SO) police officers, none of whom tested positive for intoxication or alcohol consumption.
Speaking to Minivan News, PIC President Shahinda said the commission carried out the tests following a report saying that the police was “acting drunkenly during the protests” and that there was “the smell of alcohol coming from them”.
“We ran tests on the SO police officers. I think it there were about 37 or 38,” she said.
She also stated that none of the officers tested positive and that the allegations were false.
Asked if there were reports of alleged misconduct of police during the dismantling of MDP protests, she said that the commission had been receiving complaints and would be looking into it as per its daily routine.
She further stated that the commission was currently preparing a press statement asking the general public to provide any information on police misconduct following the events that unfolded on February 6, 7 and 8.
She also added that investigations are ongoing into allegations of police misconduct in Addu City on February 9.
PIC proves we are innocent: Police Media official
Speaking to Minivan News, Police Media Official Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said that the MPS welcomed the PIC statement, stating that it had proved their innocence.
He also said that some of the protesters were spreading false information and baseless allegations about the institution, and that the police were saddened to see such actions.
“We have noticed that some of the participants in the protests are spreading false information and making baseless allegations about the Maldives Police Service. We are very saddened to see such actions and we do condemn such actions,” Haneef said.
“It is a good thing that they filed the case with the PIC. That is the way things actually should be,” he said, regarding the report.
Haneef also denied allegations that the police were targeting opposition aligned media outlets, stating that the police treated all media “equally and fairly”
“There is a cordon when police are trying to control protests. We always ask [media] to stay behind it and we will assure their safety and security. But when they go out of the cordon how can we identify them from the protesters when there are violence going on?” he questioned.
Asked about the issue of lack of coverage of the events if journalists stayed behind the cordon, he stated that the media should look into “alternative” ways of reporting.
“The media should seek alternative ways of covering the protests. We cannot guarantee their security when they are outside the police cordon. Maybe they could get cameras with powerful zoom capacity to cover the protests from a distance,” he suggested.
Haneef stated that the police always approached the media in a “very friendly” manner and stated that no police officer would deliberately hurt a journalist.
Minivan News also tried contacting Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz but he had not respond at time of press.