Ousted President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team on Thursday claimed that the Maldives Police Services had failed to specify what charges Nasheed was being investigated for, after the former President was summoned to police headquarters.
Speaking to local media following the questioning, member of Nasheed’s legal team Hisaan Hussain told local media that even the police gave Nasheed the opportunity to respond to the charges, but despite repeated requests failed to explain exactly what those charges were.
Another member of Nasheed’s legal team, former Minister of Human Resources, Youth and Sports, Hassan Latheef, also made similar comments in a live interview with local TV station Raajje TV, following Nasheed’s appearance in the police station on Thursday.
He said that police did not send Nasheed a formal summoning chit, but instead sent a letter asking him to present himself at police headquarters. Latheef added that police could not have taken action if Nasheed had declined the request, but said that Nasheed wanted to cooperate with the police in their investigation.
Latheef said that during the questioning, police stated that Nasheed was a suspect for perpetrating attacks against police and police property from May 29 onwards, and claimed that all the acts were carried out under Nasheed’s orders.
“But they failed to provide us with any details of the charges. He repeatedly asked them to clarify the details of his wrongs and what damage were they speaking of,” he said.
Furthermore, Latheef said that representatives from both Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) were present in the room, but claimed it was doubtful what police were intending through their presence.
“The Police Integrity Commission and Human Rights Commission of Maldives were present during the investigations. As a principle I agree it is a good thing but why just this case and not others?” he questioned.
He further alleged that the summoning was a “PR stunt” by the police and raised doubts about their intention as to why they had allowed the independent institutions to be present “specifically” for this case.
In a bid to respond the letter sent by the police, Nasheed left to police headquarters on foot from his personal residence ‘Keneryge’ at about 2:00pm last Thursday. A large number of his supporters followed him.
However, police had blocked almost all the routes to police headquarters, and Nasheed was finally able to reach the police headquarters after an hour of waiting.
Police initially refused allow his supporters to pass the police cordon, however the demonstrators insisted that they would not let Nasheed go alone past the police lines.
After a minor confrontation, Nasheed was allowed to enter along with some of his close aides and parliament members, however he still refused to proceed without the presence “of a free media”.
Following the police decision to not cooperate with local TV station Raajje TV, police had sent the station’s reporters back behind the police lines.
Latheef, recalling the event, stated that police informed Nasheed that if he was not present before 3:00pm, they would consider that he had failed to be present for the inquiry.
Nasheed came out of the police headquarters after more than two hours and refused to speak to the local media in the absence of Raajje TV.
However Nasheed later gave an interview to the TV station outside the police lines but did not go into any specific details of the inquiry.
The police denied the claims of Nasheed’s legal team. In a statement released following the inquiry, police stated that Nasheed refused to answer the questions during the inquiry but instead provided them with his own written statement.
Police claimed Nasheed came to the police headquarters with a band of his supporters, and came to the police headquarters at about 3:00pm after waiting for a long time in the Republican Square.
Police said that when the inquiry began, Nasheed wanted to remain silent until all the questions were asked, and then give a statement based on the questions that were posed to him.
“After [questions were posed], former President Nasheed stated that he wanted to cooperate with the inquiry but declined to provide answers, claiming that the police were not able to inform him of the charges for which he was summoned,” read the statement.
Police in the statement dismissed these claims, stating that the officers conducting the inquiry had repeatedly briefed him about the charges and the laws that were in concern but despite the efforts, Nasheed repeatedly said that it was not clear to him.
Afterwards, police said that Nasheed discussed the matter with his legal team and decided to produce a written statement regarding the questions that were posed to him.
Minivan News tried contacting police media official Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef, but he was not responding at time of press
Last Monday, Police sent a letter to ousted President Mohamed Nasheed requesting he present himself at police headquarters on August 2 at 10:00am, regarding an investigation into a phone conversation police last week released to the media. The time was later changed to 2:00pm, on Nasheed’s request.
Police claimed that in the phone conversation, tapped and recorded the day police dismantled the Maldivian Democratic Party(MDP) protest camp ‘Usfasgandu’, Nasheed and former MDP Chairperson Mariya Didi discussed attacking police officers.
Police publicised the telephone conversation which they claimed was retrieved with a court order following information from intelligence sources.
Nasheed and Mariya’s leaked audio conversation appears to have been held during the police’s attempt to dismantle the MDP’s protest camp at Usfasgandu on May 29. Police had obtained a search warrant claiming MDP was performing black magic, conducting criminal activity and damaging public property in the area.
In the audio clip, Mariya says: “[Police] are forcing people back! They are using pepper spray! That is why we are unable to hold a national council meeting. And we have also received a second letter, ordering us to vacate the area by ten o’clock tonight. We cannot file an appeal at court or do anything. We cannot even hold the National Council meeting. We won’t have [enough members for] quorum. Shihab is here. But they are using pepper spray and forcing people back. [We] can only vacate the place if we could get in there. This is all very unjust. What shall I do?”
Nasheed then replies, “There’s not much we can do. I don’t know. What is there to do? I think [we] need to get people out to fight if we can get them. If we can get people to fight, get them out. It’s very clear to me; I think we need to fight back, if we can get people to fight. Find kids from Male to fight the police,” Mariya laughs at this point, but Nasheed continues, “That is what I think. I don’t know if we can get people to fight. I want to fight against them.”
Superintendent of Police Abdulla Riyaz at the time said the police had decided to publicise the audio conversation “because we have no other choice.”
Riyaz said Mariya had been summoned for questioning over the audio clip on June 20, but claimed the MDP had spread “baseless allegations” that police were arresting and harassing opposition politicians for no apparent reason. “The time has come to reveal the truth,” Riyaz said.
The audio clip was obtained legally through a court warrant, he added.