Police officer in charge of Dhoonidhoo put detainees to work

A police officer, who was in charge of the Dhoonidhoo Island remand center, has been accused of putting several detainees to work, pocketing funds and giving special treatment to several suspects arrested in serious crimes.

Sub- Inspector of police Mujathaba Zahir is accused of letting several suspects out of their cells and letting them roam around the island, the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) has said.

He accommodated several in special barracks with a television, and allowed them to eat with police officers at the mess room.

Some suspects were let out of their cells even though the police had not completed investigations.

Some detainees were made to work on a warehouse for the Police Cooperative Society (Polco). Mujthaba also had detainees extract toddy from coconut palms and made coconut sugar, which he then sold on the market.

The sales were not documented, the ACC said.

Mujthaba also obtained money and gifts from several companies contracted for work on Dhoonidhoo, including a catering company, in the guise of improving services on the island. But there is no account of how funds were spent, the ACC said.

He is also accused of providing unlawful benefits to those he put to work. But he is also accused of taking MVR10,000 (US$645) earned by some detainees in the guise of buying a fishing net from India. He never returned the money.

The anti- corruption watchdog’s investigation revealed five other officers at Dhoonidhoo had assisted Mujathaba with the unlawful activities. The ACC has also recommended disciplinary action against two more senior officers for failing to put a stop Mujathaba’s activities.

Mujathaba is also accused of listing several contract workers on Dhoonidhoo as police officers and billing the police for their food.

During the ACC investigation, Mujthaba claimed he acted with the blessings of his superiors and for the benefit of the remand center. But the police have denied authorizing any of Mujthaba’s actions.

The ACC has recommend the Prosecutor General’s Office charge Mujthaba with three counts of abuse of authority and one count of depriving the state of monetary benefit.

The watchdog has recommended that Mujthaba’s accomplices – chief station inspector Abu Bakr Ali, station inspector Abdulla Waheed, superintendent Hussein Rasheed, Sargent Athif Naeem and chief station inspector Maumoon Jaufar – be prosecuted for abusing their powers.

The ACC has also advised the police to take disciplinary action against two officers in charge of POLCO – chief superintendent Abul Rahman Yusuf and Inspector Ilyas Rasheed.

In November last year, the Maldives Police Service revealed that 23 officers were deemed unsuitable to perform their job as officers of the law and fired.

While 257 complaints were lodged against police officers, disciplinary actions were taken against 115 officers.

In May last year, a police officer was arrested while attempting to smuggle drugs into Malé custodial detention center.