Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish and Mariyath Mohamed
Police have revealed they find no “concrete evidence” to connect the August 8 disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla with a reported abduction on the same evening.
“The police investigation has not found any concrete evidence so far of a connection between Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla’s disappearance and the incident that occurred near his flat in Hulhumale’ on the night of 7 August 2014,” read a statement released today.
Neighbours of Rilwan reported seeing a man fitting his description being pushed into a vehicle outside of his apartment at around 2am. A knife is believed to have been recovered from the scene of the crime.
Police have today said the ongoing investigations have failed to confirm that anyone saw or spoke to Rilwan after midnight.
A witness who claimed to have sat next to the missing journalist on the 1am ferry has explained to Minivan News that the police’s reluctance to place Rilwan in Hulhumalé is a result of his inability to confirm whether Rilwan exited the ferry.
The Malé-Hulhumalé ferry terminates in Hulhumalé. The Hulhumalé terminal had no CCTV in operation at the time in question.
Minivan News has spoken to the witness on a number of occasions, and he has clearly identified himself on the CCTV footage.
Additionally, the witness was able to confirm the clothes Rilwan was wearing at a time when the last people to see Rilwan in Malé on August 7 had mistakenly recalled him wearing a turquoise shirt.
Police have today said that other people appearing on the ferry terminal footage that evening are among the 128 persons questioned as part of the investigation.
Today’s statement is the first official update on the investigation since September 4.
Rilwan’s family, meanwhile, has again expressed dissatisfaction with the progress shown in the police investigation into the matter.
“There is nothing new in that statement. It’s just the old story. I believe MPS has either no leads or they are trying to cover up the story,” said the missing journalist’s brother Moosa Rilwan.
“Either way, we see their incompetence and irresponsibility to do the job they are paid to do by the public,” he added.
Today’s statement showed that the area of ocean searched by divers remains unchanged since the previous statement, at 267,197.5 square meters. Similarly, the number of locations searched in Hulhumalé remains at 139.
Police stated that they have interviewed an additional 69 persons, and interrogated 17 more individuals. They also claim to have interviewed 197 neighbours of Rilwan who live in the apartments surrounding his residence.
Between September 4 and 16, police have also searched an additional 66 vessels docked in and around Hulhumalé while one more residence in capital Male’ City has also been searched in the past 12 days.
Police further said that they are also conducting searches in a number of residences and guesthouses located in other islands, which they have not named in the statement.
According to the press release, CCTV footage has been retrieved from an additional 31 locations. Police are currently analysing a total of 1,235 hours of CCTV footage retrieved from 157 cameras.
Police concluded the statement with an appeal to the public to contact them if they have any information about the case, or if they had seen Rilwan at the Hulhumalé ferry terminal or on the island itself on the night of the disappearance.