Police Sergeant Abdul Muhusin has said police are holding 25 castaways in police custody in Dhoonidhoo, while waiting for their respective countries to identify them and provide necessary documents.
Muhusin said that all the castaways would be repatriated when they are identified by their countries.
”The latest castaways (six Somalians) who were rescued on May 16 are currently being kept in Dhoonidhoo custodial,” Muhusin said. ”They were brought there after they were discharged from hospital.”
Muhusin said that many of the castaways carried no passport or identity cards, or any document clarifying who they were and where they were from.
”That’s why it’s taking some time to repatriate them,” Muhusin said.
Police said that the 25 castaways included seven people who were saved on December 1 last year, five people rescued on December 5, seven people saved on May 12 this year and the six men recently discovered in a dinghy near Makunudhoo.
”Police are investigating everyone,” Muhusin said. ”They have claimed that they were out for fishing.”
”They have not been arrested,” Muhusin emphasised.
State Home Minister Ahmed Adil said the investigation of the castaways was still ongoing and he had no idea when they could be repatriated.
State Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem said that the Somalian government and Maldivian government together were trying to identify all the men who claimed to be Somalians.
”We have sent the Somalian government pictures of the castaways,” Naseem said.
He said he had no information about the Iranian vessel which was found in Maldivian waters in May, referring Minivan News to the home ministry
However, Adil said he had no information about Iranian vessel.
In May the Maldives Coastguard rescued an Iranian fishing vessel in Maldivian territorial waters, discovering that the crew have been deprived of water and food for several days.
Another Somalian boat was found with a crew of six men on board drifting near the island of Makunudhoo in Haadhaalu Atoll.
Makunudhoo islanders who rescued the men said it appeared they had been drifting in the tiny 12-15 foot vessel for three months without food or water.