Seventy-nine individuals have been arrested with large amounts of drugs and cash after police raided the OTUM music festival last night (April 18).*
Police have revealed that 59 males and 19 females were arrested – with an underage girl and a foreign male included in the group.
The festival, which was organised by The Underground Movement collective, was a two day event on Anbaraa, Vaavu atoll – an uninhabited island around an hour and a half south of Malé.
A source who was as the event told Minivan News that a large group of police officers suddenly raided the island and made everyone lie on the ground before handcuffing them.
Haveeru has reported that the rest of those initially detained were released after testing negative for illegal substances.
According to one source, an estimated 60 people have been arrested and are being taken to Atolhuvehi, a custodial centre in Malé.
The remaining people who were searched and tested negative for illicit substances have been released, according to the source.
In addition, a local lawyer who wished to stay anonymous has informed Minivan News that he had gone to Athuluvehi at around midday today (April 19), which time the Police did not have any record of the detainees on their system.
“During that time they ought to have access to counsel but you don’t. If someone from Malé was to contact the police about a person detained, they would have no record of them”
“Normally you’d think the point of arrest would be as soon as the police retrains or detains you in any form – from what I’ve heard , most of them or all of them have been handcuffed and had their possessions searched and have been asked for body samples.”
“From what I hear, they may have been taken into custody – may be taken to court at 7:30pm as it’s a saturday. Only at 4pm the police will decide who will be arrested and processed,” the lawyer explained.
Additionally, the source explained that police cannot search people unless they have reason to believe that they are under the influence. He added that there were currently three lawyers working on the case, and will be meeting with the arrested people in the coming hours.
“We will be going to the custodial centre now,” he stated. “They will most likely get charged under the drugs act.”
Prior to the arrests, a local DJ Angie – who was set to perform at the festival – had told Minivan News that OTUM was a rare opportunity for local musicians to showcase their talents and play music they are passionate about.
OTUM had stated that they have a strict no alcohol policy: “Bouncers will check you when you board the ferry for any possession of sharp objects & any illegal substances,” read the event’s guidelines.
*A previous version of this article – published prior to police releasing official figures – gave an estimated total of 60 arrests following discussion with witnesses and lawyers.