Government to invite bids for Thilafushi waste processing

The government says it will invite bids next month to separate waste on the “rubbish island” of Thilafushi in the latest attempt to solve the Maldives’ biggest environmental blight.

Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, who heads the Economic Council, said he hoped waste separation services would be in place by the end of the year, while a second phase of the project will involve green energy generation from the waste.

“The dumping site will be converted to an environmentally friendly incineration site,” he said.

The changes are to be financed by a new US $6-per-tourist “green tax” introduced in this year’s budget, Adeeb said.

The plan is the latest in a series of attempts to take control of the waste problem at Thilafushi, where garbage from the capital, Male’, and from many resorts is sent.

More than 200,000 tons of industrial and domestic waste were sent to Thilafushi in 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to government figures.

While some of the waste is sorted and sent to India, most is simply used as landfill or burned. Campaign groups have highlighted the risks to workers from toxic fumes and the contamination of surrounding lagoons by floating garbage.

The former Maldivian Democratic Party-led government had signed a contract with India-based Tatva Global Renewable Energy in 2011 to provide waste management services in and around Male, including establishing a system to generate power from recycling waste.

However, the current government of President Abdulla Yameen cancelled that deal late last year, having previously sought to renegotiate it on “more mutually beneficial” terms.

Environmentalists have questioned whether the political will exists to transform Thilafushi.

“So far, they’ve been trying for 20 years and it’s only getting worse,” said Maeed Zahir, founder of the environmental NGO Ecocare.

The government has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Emirati company Dubai Ports World for development of a new commercial port at Thilafushi, to be built within two years.



Opposition calls for tourism minister asset freeze

The opposition coalition has called for the tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb to face an asset freeze and an investigation over allegations of corruption and bribery.

Defectors from the ruling coalition have in recent weeks accused Adeeb of a series of offences, including using rogue police officers to frame the former defence minister, employing gangs to harass opponents and buying gifts for the First Lady with ill-gotten money.

But Adeeb has dismissed the allegations as defamation. He denies giving first lady Fathimath Ibrahim a car, saying she bought it with her own money.

He was unavailable for further comment at the time of going to press.

Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla claimed Adeeb was in debt when he first assumed the tourism portfolio in 2012, but was now capable of distributing US$100,000 gifts such as a diamond ring for the first lady.

Addressing Adeeb at the opposition’s daily protest on Monday, Imran said: “You, more than all Maldivians, know you cannot buy all these gifts with your ministerial salary.”

He said individuals seeking an appointment with the tourism minister were asked to pay thousands of dollars, and alleged that Adeeb was taking millions of dollars under the table from investors interested in doing business in the Maldives.

Adeeb’s corruption will “very soon isolate you, make you destitute, without anyone to care for you,” Imran warned.

In response, Adeeb said in a tweet: “It’s funny that anyone who has uttered filth to President Nasheed & MDP in past, now need to shout my name to get MDP’s acceptance and support.”

The Adhaalath Party, which played a key role in president Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in 2012, allied with his Maldivian Democratic Party after charges of smuggling weapons were brought against former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism while Nazim was sentenced to 11 years in jail last week.

The Maldivians Against Brutality coalition – made up of Adhaalath, MDP, members of the Jumhooree Party (JP) and members of Nazim’s family – today alleged corruption by the government relating to a recent deal to build a new commercial port in the Malé area.

The opposition would not accept such deals, Sheikh Imran said.

MDP chairperson Ali Waheed said the party has conducted a study of the “economic crimes” involved in Thilafushi, and south central Faafu and Dhaalu atolls.

Supporting an asset freeze, MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said Adeeb had hijacked the state’s watchdog institutions to ensure they would not investigate his corruption.

Former auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim was sacked by the PPM after he released a damning report implicating Adeeb in US$6million of corrupt transactions, Fahmy noted.

In the report, Adeeb is accused of funneling money from state companies to a company owned by his family and pocketing money paid by an Italian investor for a resort lease.

In Niyaz’s stead, the PPM appointed a family member of an individual implicated along with Adeeb by the report.

Adeeb at the time dismissed the report as baseless and said Niyaz had been influenced by PPM MP Ahmed Nazim, who he claimed had a personal grudge against him, to write the report.

Nazim was sentenced to life in jail last week over corruption charges in a case dating from 2004.

Fahmy said the government had tied up the hands of judges, the prosecutor general and anti-corruption watchdog by awarding them discounted flats in a luxury apartment complex.

President of the Anti Corruption Commission Hassan Luthfee is now residing in the Rehendhi flats.

When asked if the ACC is investigating any cases involving the tourism minister, the body’s vice president Muaviz Rasheed said it does not comment on specific individuals.

The Auditor General’s Office was not responding to queries at the time of going to press.


Government promises jobs to Maldivians in new Thilafushi port

The government has assured jobs to Maldivians in a new commercial port to be built by a Emirati company on Thilafushi island.

MP of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, Ahmed Nihan, said the chairman of Dubai Ports (DP) World has said Maldivians would be involved in the management of the port.

The Dubai-based marine terminal operator signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Maldivian government last month to develop a port at Thilafushi as a free trade zone.

“He said Maldivians would also be sent to countries like Dubai, Hong Kong, and Korea for training. This would be a great encouragement for Maldivians to develop our human resources,” the majority leader of parliament was quoted as saying.

The relocation and development of the central port would not harm the domestic economy, he added.

DP World Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem met MPs of the Progressive Party of Maldives yesterday during an unofficial visit to the Maldives.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed also participated in the meeting. The former is the chairman of the government’s Special Economic Zones’ investment board.

According to the local daily, Sulayem also expressed interest in investing in other ‘mega projects’ announced by the government such as the ‘I-Havan’ transhipment port in the northernmost atoll.

“The Maldives has been growing rapidly, driven largely by its tourism development. We are working with them to help diversify the economy through building infrastructure, logistics and transport links needed to make this happen,” Sulayem said in a press statement last month.

“The UAE has much experience and expertise in this area thanks to the vision of our leaders to explore new growth strategies. We are proud to share our expertise with the Maldives as they develop their capabilities in the global supply chain industry.”

Adeeb told local media last month that DP World has agreed to complete the project within two years of signing a joint venture agreement with the Maldives Ports Limited.

A timeline for the project has been agreed upon and the MoU was signed with a view to signing the joint venture agreement in a month, he said.


Ruling party MP Nazim jailed for 25 years

The Supreme Court today sentenced ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, a former close associate of the president, to 25 years in jail on corruption charges, stripping him of his parliamentary seat.

Nazim, an ex-deputy speaker of parliament, was found guilty of defrauding the state of MVR 1.4 million (US $91,400) by submitting bids on behalf of non-existent companies to supply 15,000 national flags to the now-defunct atolls ministry.

The conviction completes Nazim’s fall from grace at a time when the opposition has accused the government of targeting political rivals. Nazim, who helped President Abdulla Yameen found a party in 2008, appears to have fallen out of favour with the government.

The High Court in February 2013 acquitted Nazim on the basis that the witnesses, who had been his employees, were not credible, based on a Supreme Court precedent that testimony by accomplices to a crime is inadmissible .

However, the Supreme Court today unanimously ruled the employees were simply following Nazim’s orders in the scam, which took place in 2004.

Nazim’s downfall will trigger a parliamentary by-election in Meemu atoll Dhiggaru.

There are three more outstanding corruption charges against Nazim, which also involve the use of “paper companies” to win bids for the procurement of 220 harbor lights, sound systems for mosques and an additional 15,000 flags.

The police have previously said Nazim gained US$400,000 in total from the scams.

Police in October withheld the MP’s passport on unrelated charges of blackmail.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at that time blamed Nazim for a damning report implicating him in a separate US$6million corruption scandal, and also accused Nazim of defamation following his refusal to support Nazim’s bid to become Speaker of parliament.


The scams, first flagged in an audit report in 2009, also involved ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP ‘Red Wave’ Ahmed Saleem and President Yameen’s half-brother Abdulla Hameed. Their cases are still pending at the High Court.

Saleem was the director of finance at the atolls ministry and Hameed was the minister at the time, while Nazim ran a company called Namira Engineering. Saleem and Hameed are charged with abuse of power and violation of state finance regulations.

During the original trial held at the Criminal Court, the then-employees of Nazim’s Namira Engineering testified under oath that they were instructed by Nazim to bid for the projects – however, the presiding judge concluded from their testimonies that they were responsible for the procurement fraud and therefore dismissed the testimonies against Nazim on all counts.

According to the audit report, documents of the company which won the bid, Malegam Tailors, showed that it shared the same phone number as Namira. Fast Tailors, another company that applied, also shared a different number registered under Namira.

Another company, Needlework Tailors, which submitted the bid, had an employee of Namira sign the documents under the title of general manager, while a fourth company named ‘Seaview Maldives Private Maldives’ did not exist.

Auditors noted that the Seaview bid documents had an exact date error also found in Fast Tailors documents, and said the error was sufficient to prove the same party had prepared both bids.

The prosecution began in late 2009 after police uncovered evidence that implicated Hameed, Saleem and Nazim in a number of fraudulent transactions.

At a press conference in August 2009, police exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and forged cheques showing that Nazim received over US$400,000 in the scam.

Police further alleged that MP Saleem actively assisted from the atoll ministry, while Nazim’s wife Zeenath Abdullah abused her position as a manager of the Bank of Maldives’ Villingili branch to deposit proceeds of the fraudulent conspiracy.

Police said Hameed as minister played a key role in the fraud by handing out bids without public announcements, making advance payments using cheques against the state asset and finance regulations, approving bid documents for unregistered companies and carrying out discriminatory treatment of bid applicants.

A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May 2009 allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letterheads. Police alleged that money was channelled through the scam to Nazim, who then laundered cash through Namira Engineering and unregistered companies.


Criminal Court bars ex-defence minister from calling witnesses

The Criminal Court today admitted only two of the 37 defence witnesses requested in former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s weapons possession trial.

Nazim has previously claimed rogue police officers planted a pistol and three bullets found at his apartment during a midnight raid, but the Criminal Court refused to allow the retired colonel to present witnesses, stating they do not appear to negate the prosecution’s charge.

Defence lawyer Ibrahim Shameel pointed to a 2011 Supreme Court precedent in which the apex court said judges had no authority to refuse to hear witnesses.

In reply, presiding Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf said: “We know what that verdict says. [But] this court has made a decision.”

State prosecutors and defence lawyers are to present concluding statements at the next hearing on Wednesday. Afterwards, the three-judge panel could issue a verdict at their discretion.

The three judges overseeing Nazim’s case, Judge Yoosuf, Judge Abdulla Didi and Judge Sujau Usman, had convicted former President Mohamed Nasheed of terrorism on March 13 and sentenced him to 13 years in jail over the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and UN Special Rapporteur on Independent of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul last week called Nasheed’s sentence unfair, contending the Criminal Court’s refusal to call defence witnesses contravened international fair trial standards.

The Criminal Court tonight also refused to allow Nazim to leave the country for urgent medical treatment, noting doctors had said he could attend court hearings despite his condition.

Lawyer Maumoon Hameed in court last week said Nazim’s condition was life-threatening. The former defence minister was subsequently transferred from the Dhoonidhoo Remand Center to house arrest on the doctor’s recommendation.

SWAT officers “gone rogue”

At today’s hearing, the Criminal Court called Superintendent of Police Abdulla Satheeh and Assistant Commissioner of Police Hussein Adam to the witness stand.

Although judges summoned Chief Superintendent of Police Abdul Mannan Yoosuf, they refused to allow the defence team to ask questions over a possible setup against Nazim.

Meanwhile, Adam, who current heads the police’s Internal Security Command and commands the Specialist Operations (SO) officers, told the Criminal Court that Deputy Commissioner of Police Hassan Habeeb asked him to alert the SO’s SWAT team for a major operation, four days before the raid.

Satheeh, who was the chief investigative officer in Nazim’s case, confirmed the raid was carried out under Habeeb’s commands, and said it was the deputy commissioner who had decided not to arrest Nazim at the scene despite the discovery of dangerous weapons.

Satheeh also corroborated testimony by several anonymous police officers last week that the search team had entered Nazim’s apartment after SWAT officers secured the premises.

Nazim’s lawyers previously claimed SWAT officers, after breaking down Nazim’s door and herding his family inside the living room, spent ten minutes inside the then-defence minister’s bedroom unsupervised before the search began.

Adam noted the police would normally request the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) to secure premises before a raid to confiscate illegal weapons and explosive devices.

He also said he was unaware the police were raiding Nazim’s home until the next day, and he had raised the issue with the Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed afterwards. But the police chief said some operations must be kept secret, Adam said.

Satheeh, who also heads the police’s Serious and Organized Crime Unit, said he did not notice police having acted against laws and regulations during the investigation.

The search warrant was obtained after police received information from a credible source, Satheeh said. The information did not come through the police’s intelligence directorate, he said, but the police acted on the information because of the reliability of the source.

State prosecutors in court previously said confidential documents on a pen drive confiscated along with the pistol and three bullets indicated Nazim was plotting to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Tourism Minister Adeeb and Waheed, with the financial backing of opposition Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group.

But Nazim said the SWAT officers framed him on Adeeb’s orders following a fall-out over his complaint with President Yameen regarding Adeeb’s alleged use of the SWAT team to commit crimes, including the chopping down of all of Malé City’s areca palms.

Police have previously dismissed allegations of framing as “untrue” and “baseless.” Adeeb has also said he was “shocked” by the defence team’s “lies.”


State concludes witness testimony in former Defence Minister Nazim’s trial

Three anonymised police officers provided testimony with serious contradictions last week in former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s trial on weapons possession charges.

The three officers were part of a search team during the controversial midnight raid on Nazim’s house on January 18. Their testimony indicated the Maldives Police Services did not follow stringent police regulations in conducting the search.

The search team did not videotape the raid as required, and provided conflicting testimony on whether mandatory photographs were taken. One witness said photos were only taken of the illegal weapons, while a second witness said photographs were taken from the moment the raid began.

Nazim — accused of smuggling illegal weapons — maintains he was framed by rogue SWAT police officers on the orders of Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The three officers said they entered Nazim’s apartment after masked SWAT officers broke down the then-defence minister’s door. Nazim’s wife and two daughters were inside the apartment’s living room with the officers at the time, they said.

Police claimed to have discovered three bullets and a pistol in a black bag in a bedside drawer during the raid. Nazim was subsequently dismissed and arrested on additional charges of treason and terrorism.

If convicted of smuggling weapons, the retired colonel faces a jail term between ten and 15 years.

State prosecutors have now concluded summoning witnesses. A total of six individuals testified in four hearings last week. They included five police officers and one Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer.

The defence is to call witnesses at the next hearing on Sunday.

Police procedures

The Criminal Court held four hearings on March 17, 18 and 19. Nazim’s defence team questioned the three anonymised police witnesses on procedures followed during raid, search and chain of custody in evidence.

At the March 17 hearing, the chief Investigative Officer (IO) said he had sought a court warrant to search Nazim’s apartment building, Galholhu Enif, on his superior’s orders.

Intelligence information indicated weapons were kept either on the seventh or eighth floor, he said via telephone. The search team entered Nazim’s apartment ten to 15 minutes after SWAT officers entered the apartment and secured the premises, he said.

The police team searched Nazim’s bedroom first, in his presence, when the weapons were discovered, he said. Police officers searched all of Nazim’s apartment and a second apartment on the eighth floor, but did not search the seventh floor, he said.

The IO said Nazim had fully cooperated with the search. The police did not keep a record of observations in a special notebook or issue a list of items confiscated from the former defence minister’s home as per regulations, the cross-examination revealed.

One anonymised witness on March 18 said the search team did not check the ceiling, while the second said the team brought in a chair to check the ceiling and cupboards.

The legal team had previously claimed that the items found at Nazim’s house were planted by the police, saying that officers spent ten minutes inside Nazim’s bedroom unsupervised before the search began. Police have called the claims “untrue” and “baseless”.

On March 19, state prosecutors summoned Sub Inspector Ameen Abdul Gayoom regarding a forensic digital analysis report of a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s apartment along with the weapons. The state has previously said documents on the pen drive indicate Nazim was plotting to harm President Abdulla Yameen, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Journalists and observers were barred from the defence’s cross-examination of Gayoom due to the confidential nature of the documents on the pen drive.

Prosecutors then summoned MNDF First Lieutenant Mohamed Nazeem to prove the pistol and bullets were functioning. Nazeem said the a weapons expert had fired the pistol in his presence, but they had not tested the bullets. However, a visual inspection shows the bullets were not dummy rounds, he said.

Defence lawyers have named President Yameen, Commissioner Waheed, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam, Home Minister Umar Naseer and several senior ranking police and military officers as witnesses to prove charges were fabricated in a conspiracy engineered by Adeeb.

The Criminal Court said the court would summon defence witnesses only if they appear to negate the prosecution’s evidence.

On March 7, lawyer Maumoon Hameed claimed Adeeb framed Nazim after the former defence minister alerted President Yameen of the tourism minister using SO SWAT officers to commit criminal acts, including the chopping down of all of Malé City’s areca palms in October last year.

The tourism minister has said he was “shocked” by the allegations, and has dismissed accusations as lies.

Defence lawyers have also called Superintendent of Police Ahmed Nafiz and former head of police’s intelligence directorate, Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed, to prove a complaint was lodged over SO officer’s alleged criminal activities, and that SO officers had engaged in criminal activity.

The defence has also called senior ranking police and military officers to prove that a Special Protection Group Corporal had lost a 9mm Browning pistol at Shangri-La resort in 2014, that police officers did not follow due process in raiding and searching Nazim’s residence, and that police intelligence had not received any information that illegal weapons were smuggled into Malé prior to the raid.

The MNDF promptly dismissed allegations of missing weapons.


Tourist arrivals reach record high in February

Tourist arrivals reached an all-time record level for a single month with 120,468 visitors in February, the Ministry of Tourism has revealed.

Arrivals in February was 8.8 percent higher than the same period last year, which was “a significant improvement compared to the negative growth (-7.8 percent) registered in January 2015,” the tourism ministry observed in a statement on Thursday (March 19).

“With this boost, the total arrivals at end February 2015 was 217,541, an increase of +0.7 percent compared with the 216,001 tourists that visited during the same period of 2014,” the ministry noted.

The occupancy rate meanwhile declined by 4.8 percent this year, with an average occupancy rate of 80.8 percent. The average duration of stay was six days.

After falling 12.2 percent in December and 33.1 percent in January, Chinese arrivals bounced back in February with a 30.5 growth compared to February 2014.

A total of 43,349 Chinese tourists visited the Maldives last month.

At a press conference last week, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb suggested that Chinese visitors increased sharply as the Chinese New Year was on February 13.

Adeeb noted that overall arrivals growth was at about one percent compared to the first two months of 2014.

“So our travel trends is not falling. The past month was a very profitable month,” he said.

However, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) revealed earlier this month that revenue collection was 17.6 percent below forecasts due to “the decrease in tourism related revenues by 17 percent as tourist arrivals did not meet expectations.”

MIRA also revealed that US$2.2 million was collected last month as airport service charge, compared to US$2.3 million in February 2014.

However, Adeeb said income from Tourism Goods and Services Tax (T-GST) for February would be collected in March, and would reflect the arrivals hike.

Referring to travel alerts issued by the UK in the wake of political unrest sparked by the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 22, Adeeb noted that tourists were only advised to avoid Malé due to demonstrations.

Asked if arrivals could decline in March due to the ongoing political crisis, Adeeb said the tourism ministry has been monitoring booking cancellations.

“Our monitoring shows there have been no booking cancelations in March,” he said, adding that he expected arrivals to remain unchanged from March 2014.

Condemning calls for tourism boycott, Adeeb said the government was countering the social media campaign by opposition supporters through marketing efforts by PR firms.

Adeeb suggested the tourism boycott campaign would not have “much of an impact.”

Regional markets

Europe retained top spot as the largest regional source market for tourist arrivals with a 49.3 percent market share in 2015.

However, with 107,263 visitors so far this year, total arrivals from Europe registered a marginal decline of 0.8 percent.

European arrivals in February declined by 1.9 percent compared to the same period last year on the back of a steep 53.4 percent decline in arrivals from Russia.

However, arrivals from the United Kingdom and Germany increased by 10.6 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively. The number of Italian tourists also grew by 10.3 percent compared to February 2014.

Total arrivals from Western Europe declined by 2.9 percent due to a fall of 15.5 percent in arrivals from France, which the tourism ministry said has been posting negative growth since July 2014.

In terms of individual markets, China remains the largest source market with a 29.3 percent market share, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Both the national carrier Maldivian Airlines and Mega Maldives launched direct weekly flights to Chinese cities during February.

The Maldives Marketing and Tourism Development Corporation (MMPRC) also conducted roadshows in three Indian cities last month to promote the Maldives as a destination for Indian tourists.

With 4,235 visitors, arrivals from India grew by 17.8 percent in February with a market share of 3.7 percent.

“During the last two months of 2015, while important markets such as Russia, and Japan registered declines of -43.9 percent and -0.6 percent respectively, significant increases were recorded from Denmark (+82.8 percent), United Arab Emirates (+47.9 percent), Brazil (+44.6 percent), Spain (+40 percent) and Romania (+33.9 percent) at the end of the period,” the ministry noted.

At the end of February, the Maldives had 308 registered establishments in operation with a bed capacity of 27,670.

“The operational capacity included 106 resorts with 23,247 beds, 15 hotels with 1,508 beds, 106 guest houses with 1,568 beds and 81 safari vessels with 1,367 beds,” the ministry revealed.

“The total tourist bed nights of these operational establishments at the end of the period was 1,313,259 which was a drop (-3.7 percent) compared with the same period of 2014.”

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MP Mahloof levels serious allegations at Tourism Minister Adeeb

MP Ahmed Mahloof has accused Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb of using gangs to commit politically motivated “state-sponsored” crimes.

In an appearance on opposition-aligned Raajje TV last night, Mahloof alleged the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) deputy leader’s involvement in a number of “atrocities,” including the arson attack on Raajje TV in October 2013 and the stabbing of former MP Alhan Fahmy in February 2014.

“In reality, the current government is a big gang,” he said.

“There aren’t that many people in this gang. There about six people in this gang. President Yameen is the boss. Some people might find this hard to hear, but I’m saying this with daring because President Yameen would not keep Adeeb close knowing the serious atrocities in this country are carried out by him.”

Adeeb was responsible for bringing both the government and the PPM into disrepute and creating divisions within the party, he added.

On Sunday night (March 15), Mahloof alleged that a group of about ten men attempted to break into his apartment after Adeeb threatened him over the phone.

Adeeb has denied the allegations, claiming Mahloof was getting paid or bribed to defame him and President Abdulla Yameen. The tourism minister has also dismissed allegations of connections with criminal gangs.

The MP for Galolhu South was expelled from the PPM last month for allegedly defaming President Yameen.

Mahloof claimed last night that Adeeb demanded he pay back MVR5 million (US$324,254) and threatened him over the phone.

The group of young men tried to enter his apartment about two hours later, he said.

Referring to a group of six young men threatening opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) demonstrators with knives on Sunday night before smashing up a lorry and loudspeakers, Mahloof claimed Adeeb assures immunity from prosecution to the youth involved in the attacks.

A number of senior police officers were beholden to Adeeb and followed his orders, Mahloof continued, claiming other police officers were unhappy with the release of young men arrested for attacking peaceful protesters.

Any police officer who tries to investigate Adeeb would be fired, he claimed.

Speaking to reporters outside the parliament building yesterday, Mahloof alleged that Adeeb had admitted to paying gangs to torch the motorcycle of then-MP-elect Mohamed Abdulla ‘Muhamma’ in May 2014 before he switched from the Jumhooree Party (JP) to PPM.

Police intelligence had learned of Adeeb’s involvement, Mahloof claimed, adding that Adeeb had told him the plan was “to make it look like the JP did it” after MP Abdulla publicly declared that he would support the government if his party left the ruling coalition.


Tourism Minster Ahmed Adeeb; economic council; PPM deputy leaderIn his Raajje TV appearance, Mahloof said he had never faced any threats or feared attacks from the MDP despite his outspoken criticism of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

However, Mahloof said he now believed an attack or attempt to frame him was likely.

He also accused the tourism minister of corruption, claiming resort owners had told him that Adeeb demands MVR500,000 (US$32,425) for a meeting.

Mahloof claimed a youth allegedly involved in torching Raajje TV studios personally told him that he met Adeeb to plan the attack.

Moreover, former Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz – now an opposition JP MP – said the police investigation established Adeeb’s involvement, he added.

Mahloof also claimed that Adeeb confessed to having Specialist Operations (SO) police officers chop down all of Malé City Council’s areca palms in October. Adeeb has paid off a number of SO officers, he alleged.

Mahloof further claimed that the PPM parliamentary group was initially against the dismissal of Supreme Court Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain.

But Adeeb came to a parliamentary group meeting and told MPs that “Yameen believes this should be done and we will decide those who don’t vote for this are against the government.”

Only Mahloof and MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed voted against issuing a three-line whip to dismiss the chief justice, he added.

Moreover, PPM MP Ahmed Nazim – former deputy speaker – was out of favour with President Yameen after he revealed “with evidence” alleged corruption involving Adeeb to the president, which later became the subject of an audit report implicating the tourism minister in a US$6 million corruption scandal.

Mahloof said he does not plan to join a political party in the near future and preferred to remain an independent MP, but added that he was willing to work with the opposition.

Recently dismissed Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, currently standing trial for weapons smuggling, has told the Criminal Court that SO officers planted a pistol and three bullets at his apartment during a midnight raid on Adeeb’s orders on January 18. The pair had fallen out after the ex Defence Minister informed President Yameen of the Tourism Minister’s involvement in chopping down Malé City’s Areca Palms, Nazim alleged.

The Tourism Minister has dismissed the allegations as lies.


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Defence Minister Jaleel leads “Sentence Nasheed now” motorbike rally

Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb led a motorcycle parade on Saturday calling for a speedy judgment in former President Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial over the 2012 military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Jaleel was the chief of defence forces when Judge Abdulla was arrested and faces the same terrorism charges. If convicted, the pair face between 10 and 15 years in jail or banishment.

Senior government officials, ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MPs and hundreds of young men took party in the rally. They carried placards that read:  “Justice for Judge Abdulla,” “Sentence Nasheed now,” “Everyone is equal in front of the law.”

Jaleel has denied involvement in Judge Abdulla’s arrest, claiming the chief of defence forces had been reduced to a “ceremonial” official by then-Defence Minister Tholhath Kaleyfaanu.

Four state witnesses have backed Jaleel’s statement in court, claiming he had not participated in any military meetings prior to Judge Abdulla’s arrest.

Speaking after the rally, Adeeb called on the opposition to stop its nightly protests against Nasheed’s February 22 arrest and terrorism charges.

“Don’t make us take to the streets. These are Malé City’s youth. This is a very strong crowd. If these young men get angry it would not be good. That’s why we are with these young men in their homes. We are people who love peace, so don’t make us come out to the street,” Adeeb warned, according to Sun Online.

“We won’t give him [President Nasheed] anymore chances. You [the opposition] will also have to go home. Then we will also quietly stay home,” he added.

Tension has been high in Malé since Nasheed’s arrest. The former president’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) have formed an alliance against what they call President Abdulla Yameen’s repeated constitutional violations and intimidation of political rivals.

The opposition claims Nasheed’s trial is unjust. Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim who is standing trial for importing and possessing illegal weapons is being framed, they also claimed.

MDP today condemned Adeeb’s speech, accusing him of threatening the opposition with violence.

“MDP is alarmed by the threats of violence against opposition protesters, made by senior members of President Yameen’s administration,” a statement issued by the party today read.

MDP claimed that the bike rally was attended by “well-known gang members”.

“This is a desperate and dangerous escalation of the current crisis by the government. President Yameen’s administration is baring its fangs,” Spokesperson for MDP Hamid Abdul Gafoor said in the statement.

Three of the young men seen in the front-lines of the bike rally – Fazeel Ahmed, Mohamed Asif and Razzan Abduhrahmaan – had previously been charged with murders but were acquitted by the Criminal Court.

Fazeel had been charged with the murder of 15-year-old Ahmed Shaneed in 2008, while Asif and Razzan were charged with the 2012 murder of 33-year-old Ali Shifan.

The opposition has long accused Adeeb of illicit connections with gangsters. The tourism minister has dismissed the allegations.

When President Nasheed resigned in February 7, 2012 in the wake of a police and military mutiny, he accused Jaleel of downplaying the mutiny. Jaleel, who had served in the army for 30 years, retired after the controversial transfer of power.

Jaleel signed for the PPM last year and President Yameen appointed him as the Ambassador for Pakistan. When Nazim was dismissed from his cabinet post in January after the controversial weapons find, Yameen appointed Jaleel as his replacement.

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