Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has issued a statement condemning the arrest of police whistleblowers who cooperated with the production of its report into the controversial transfer of power of February 7.
Police head of intelligence, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, was arrested on Thursday and detained on Dhoonidhoo.
A police statement alleged that Chief Superintendent Hameed “distributed information obtained pertinent to his tenure as Head of the Intelligence Department, police matters and internal security, along with [providing] misleading information to certain individuals for reaping benefit out of it to drive rift within police officers and the community.”
He was presented to the Criminal Court that afternoon, which extended his detention period by five days. Hameed’s family have appealed the case in the High Court, arguing that his pretrial detention period was extended in violation of the law as Hameed was arrested over a disciplinary issue and not a criminal offence.
Hameed’s lawyer told the court that there were police officers accused of more serious crimes who had not been detained, alleging that in one instance a senior police officer stood accused of attempting to rape a woman and in another incident, influence a judge in a case involving the police officer’s interest.
His lawyer argued that the Criminal Court judge had extended Hameed’s detention period not based on what the police told the judge, but based on the judge’s own view, and that therefore Hameed had lost the right to respond to the accusations.
In response, the prosecution lawyer said that Hameed was accused not of a disciplinary issue but a criminal offence, and contended that the Criminal Court judge had declared Hameed a threat to society because police told the judge he might seek to influence evidence.
He also noted that the matter involving the police officer accused of rape had been sent to the Prosecutor General’s office.
Several other officers were also reported to have been detained last week, however Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said Hameed was the only officer formally arrested.
The MDP held protests over the weekend calling for Hameed’s release, while a Hameed’s family have appealed the case in the High Court, and said the court was due to issue a verdict later on Sunday evening.
In a statement, MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the arrest of the Chief Superintendent was “further evidence of the Maldives’ rapid descent into a police state.”
“Brave men and women who wish to stand up for the rule of law, for democracy and for human rights are today subjected to constant threats and intimidation. This purge of police officers who the Government considers possible opponents demonstrates President Waheed’s growing paranoia and the fact that his coalition Government are determined to rule by fear,” Ghafoor said.
“MDP calls on the EU, the US, the UN Human Rights Council and others to urgently enquire into the well-being of these police officers and to hold this illegal government accountable for their growing use of violence and intimidation for political means,” he added.
President’s Office Spokespersons Masood Imad and Abbas Adil Riza were not responding at time of press.