‘Namoona Dhoni’ case retracted by Prosecutor General’s Office

A senior official at the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has revealed that the 2006 ‘Namoona Dhoni’ case, thought to have been re-opened earlier this month, has now been retracted.

“We decide not to continue with the charges and we have retracted the case,” said the official.

“We only found out the case was still still active when the Criminal Court scheduled the hearing. I  was under the impression that this case had been retracted and discontinued.”

A Criminal Court Media Official was quoted in local media as stating that it had received the charges from the PG’s Office at the start of this month.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member Ameen Faisal, alongside former member Abbas Adil Riza were reportedly facing charges of disobeying a lawful order under section 88 of the penal code.

Seven other individuals were also reported to be facing charges in relation to the incident.

The PG Office official, however, stated that the retention of the case had been an “oversight” as the PG had previously opted to retract all cases for which it lacked constitutional authority.

“Before 2008 constitution, the government could make laws and issue guidelines for people to follow, and if they fail to follow them they could be prosecuted. One of the bases of this prosecution was that there was an announcement made by the Home Ministry.”

The official confirmed that the announcement in question was order for the fishing vessel ‘Namoona’ not to set-off from Addu in November 2006.

State prosecutors had claimed that authorities ordered the journey not to go ahead, arguing that the group intended to “unlawfully sow discord among the public and to disrupt the public order” by joining an MDP demonstration in the capital.

The journey had been prompted by the MDP National Council’s call for party supporters to travel to the capital in order to pressure autocratic leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to expedite the drafting of the new constitution.

“We can’t base our prosecution on a statement or an announcement made by the ministry. After the 2008 constitution, there was no basis to continue with the prosecution,” said the PG official.

The November 2006 incident involved the Namoona travelling from Addu to Male’ being forced to change course by the Coast Guard.

A press release from Amnesty International shortly after the incident raised concerns that the government was suppressing freedom of expression and assembly.

Investigating the Namoona Dhoni incident, Amnesty said: “A gunship reportedly came within several metres of the passenger boat causing big waves, which rocked the boat violently.”

“The gunship followed the boat and reportedly forced it to anchor near an uninhabited island.

According to reports, for a period of about eight hours the gunboat deliberately prevented the boat from reaching habitable islands to replenish its food supplies, which had run out. The passengers were then taken into custody.”


Government reopens 2006 ‘Namoona Dhoni’ case, filing criminal charges against two activists

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has filed criminal charges against both the former Defense Minister Ameen Faisal and former President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza, over their involvement in the 2006 ‘Namoona Dhoni’ incident.

A Criminal Court Media Official was quoted in local media as stating that the court had received the charges from the PG’s Office seven days ago.

The infamous incident involved the expedition of pro-democracy activists from the country’s southernmost atoll in an attempt to join a national demonstration organised by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) during the final years of the Maumoon Abdul Gayoom regime.

Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives returned to power last month after his half-brother Abdulla Yameen defeated MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed in the presidential election.

According to local media, both Ameen Faisal and Abbas Adil Riza are facing the charge of disobeying a lawful order under section 88 of the penal code.

The state has also charged Ameen Faisal with obstructing a state employee from executing his duty under section 86 of the penal code.

Apart from Faisal and Riza, the state has also charged Ali Abdulla, Ibrahim Sabree, Mohamed Azmy, Abdulla Asrar, Ahmed Mohamed, Ahmed Didi – the Captain of Namoona Dhoni – and Shahuruzman Wafir – the owner of Namoona Dhoni – who had all been part of expedition.

Both Abbas Adil Riza and Ameen Faisal – who were pro-reform activists of then-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at the time – were part the group which set off from Addu Atoll Maradhoo Island on November 6, 2006, to join the opposition-led demonstrations in Male’.

Faisal was president of the MDP’s Malé branch at the time of the incident.

The activists had planned to use the demonstrations to pressure then-government of Maldives thirty-year autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to speed up the drafting of the constitution.

The state prosecutors in the case claimed that on November 6, 2006, local authorities –  having come to learn of the expedition and the intention to join the anti-government demonstration, had sent a letter to Shahuruzman Wafir – the owner of Namoona Dhoni – ordering him not to embark on the journey.

The letter, according to the prosecution, had stated that “the government had come to learn” of the plot by the activists to set off to Male with the intention to “unlawfully sow discord among the public and to disrupt the public order and therefore orders Shahuruzman Wafir to not let his Dhoni to embark on the journey”.

Despite the letter ordering Shahuruzman Wafir to not allow anyone other that the regular fishermen that regularly used the vessel for fishing, the prosecutors claimed that Wafir had confessed to having accepted and cashed a cheque of MVR 10,000 given by the MDP’s Addu Atoll Office.

The famous ‘Namoona Dhoni’ incident

Despite the orders by the Maradhoo Island Office, the crew of Namoona Dhoni chose to depart to Male with the MDP activists.

The trip to Male was part of the MDP’s Addu wing’s collaboration with a previous resolution passed by the MDP’s National Council calling upon members from across the nation to gather in Male’ for the demonstrations.

Half-way through the journey, approximately three nautical miles away from Gaaf Alif Atoll Kolamaafushi Island, the Coast Guard intercepted the vessel and informed the crew to change its course to any island other than the capital.

Following the Coast Guard’s interception, the prosecution claimed that the Captain of Namoona Dhoni Ahmed Didi had demanded Ameen Faisal agree to an additional payment of MVR 150,000, should the journey be continued as according to the plan of activists.

Faisal finally agreed to pay the demanded sum when the vessel had entered the outer seas of Thaa Atoll near the Kimbidhoo Island, claimed the prosecution. Furthermore, the prosecutors also claimed that  Abbas and other activists had pressured the captain to continue the journey regardless of the orders given by the Coast Guard.

After some confrontations between the activists and Coast Guard officials, the Namoona Dhoni was brought under Coast Guard custody in the morning of November 8, 2006.

The incident was widely reported by then opposition-aligned newspapers as a ‘brutal seizure by the Coast Guard’  though the allegations were denied by the officials.

Prosecutors also alleged that Abbas, at the time of Coast Guard interception, had given false alarms and reports about the seizure of the vessel.

According to local media reports at the time, 44 people were aboard the vessel during the time of incident, including three women.

Charges were pressed against Faisal, Abbas, and others even in 2007, but were later dropped by the PG.

Whilst Faisal is still an active MDP member, Abbas has since defected from the party, becoming a vocal critic of the post-2008 MDP government.

Abbas went onto serve as President’s Office Spokesman for Nasheed’s successor Dr Mohamed Waheed before sparking a diplomatic incident with criticism of Indian High Commissioner D.M. Mulay in 2012, after which he moved into a position with the Finance Ministry.

Correction: The previous version of this article described Ameen Faisal as having headed the activist group – an unsubstantiated claim which Faisal himself denies. Minivan News regrets the error.


ACC requests former Home Minister be charged over prisoner transferred from Sri Lanka

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has sent a case to the Prosecutor General to charge former Acting Home Minister Ameen Faisal for his role in setting free a Maldivian man sentenced to life by a Sri Lankan court for drug smuggling.

The ACC in a statement said that a man – identified as Ibrahim Adam Manik of Gomashige in Mahchangolhi, Male’, son of Male’ City Councillor ‘Sarangu’ Adam Manik – was sentenced to life by the High Court of Sri Lanka in Negombo and brought to Male’ on March 29, 2009.

According to the ACC, the Sri Lankan  Ministry of Justice and Law Reform agreed to send him back after the Maldivian Home Ministry gave assurances that his sentence would be implemented in a Maldivian prison.

The ACC said that their investigation had found out the letter from Maldivian Home Ministry was sent by the then Acting Home Minister Ameen Faisal – a senior member of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who had filled a number of senior government portfolios.

In the letter, Faisal had agreed that the Maldivian Home Ministry would take responsibility for implementing Ibrahim Adam Manik’s sentence.

The ACC said that the prisoner was brought to the Maldives before asking for legal advice from the then-Attorney General, and that the then-Acting Home Minister had not clarified whether there was a legal procedure whereby Maldivian prisoners  abroad could be transferred to the Maldives to complete their sentence.

On February 12, 2008, the Maldives and Sri Lanka signed an agreement to transfer prisoners, although the two countries have not exchanged documents regarding the implementation of the agreement and have no legal procedure on how to transfer the prisoners, the ACC said.

Moreover, the ACC said that Ibrahim Adam Manik was brought to the Maldives a few days after the Sri Lankan High Court had sentenced him to life whilst there were many other Maldivians serving life sentences at foreign prisons.

The ACC concluded that this action in the case constituted abuse of public power for private benefit, which is considered a crime under the Anti-Corruption Act’s article 12(a).

When contacted for a comment regarding the matter, Faisal told Minivan News he said he was busy and asked to be contacted later. He was not responding to further calls at the time of press.


MDP government’s intelligence learned of coup planning, claims report

Intelligence sources of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government had learned of the then-opposition’s plan to topple the government by soliciting “about 500 police officers” to protest in the Republic Square, according to an investigative report into the circumstances that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation “under duress” on February 7.

The report (Dhivehi), co-authored by former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam and National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal, focuses on the former government’s intelligence information on planning for the alleged “coup d’etat” and “unlawful and criminal activities” of police and army officers in the events leading up to Nasheed’s resignation.

All the information included in the report came from “primary sources”, the authors insisted, including senior government officials and political figures as well as police and army officers. Other sources included media reports, eyewitness testimonies and publicly available video footage.

Speaking to Minivan News today, President’s Office Spokesperson said that the MDP’s decision to release a report that included the names of police and MNDF officers it accused of being involved in the alleged coup was an “act of terrorism”.

“Planning the coup”

The report alleged that in September 2011 council members of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) met with a retired Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) warrant officer (grade one), a retired brigadier general and a retired deputy police commissioner at the apartment of PPM council member Ahmed ‘Mars’ Saleem to discuss ways to topple the government.

At the meeting, the report stated, the retired warrant officer proposed that “the only way to change President Nasheed’s government” was for “about 500 police officers to come out and protest at the Republic Square”.

“During these discussions, when the retired deputy police commissioner gave assurances that it could be done, PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer raised doubts [about the possibility],” the report claimed.

However, following extensive discussions, “it was decided that work would begin on creating an atmosphere for [a police-led protest at Republic square].”

The report further claimed that the “December 23 coalition” of eight political parties and affiliated NGOs – which staged a mega-protest to “Defend Islam” from the alleged “securalisation agenda” of President Nasheed – was formed as a result of “a lengthy discussion” at the Adhaalath Party office between a prominent religious scholar and the aforementioned warrant officer.

The ‘mega-protest’ was meanwhile primarily funded by Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader and tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim, the report claimed.

While Umar Naseer attempted to march the December 23 demonstrators to overthrow the government, the report claimed, the plan was thwarted after some coalition members opposed the notion.

“When it could not be done that day, the organisers of the gathering on December 23 decided to hold a second mass demonstration in the name of ‘a symposium’ on February 24 to bring President Nasheed’s rule to an end through direct action,” the report stated.

The controversial detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed by the military on 16 January provided the opposition “a wide opportunity to redouble efforts to achieve the desired outcome of the mass ‘symposium’ planned for February 24.”


Meanwhile, the report alleged, efforts by the opposition to identify police and army officers to join the protest was underway “at a high speed” with ex-colonel Mohamed Nazim and ex-deputy commissioner Abdulla Riyaz entrusted with the task.

At the beginning of February 2012, the report revealed, government intelligence had learned of ties formed between elements of the police and military with the opposition.

The report alleged that “among those who pledged allegiance to [the opposition] were Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam, Colonel Mohamed Nasheed, Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Raouf and Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz.”

Moreover, intelligence learned that Brigadier General Ahmed Shiyam – presently the Chief of Defence Forces – held secret meetings with opposition figures, the report claimed.

Intelligence officers also reported that ex-colonel Nazim contacted senior military officers and middle-ranking officers at the time, “as a result of which information was received that some officers of the military’s marine corp pledged allegiance to him.”

Intelligence further learned that the officers in question were engaged in “inciting hatred” for President Nasheed among military personnel, eroding respect for the then-commander-in-chief and seeking additional recruits to their cause.

“Star Force” resurrected

The MDP’s report alleged that police officers involved in the planning for the coup were Assistant Commissioner Hussain Waheed, Chief Superintendent Abdulla Fairoosh, Chief Superintendent Hassan Habeeb, Chief Superintendent Ahmed Saudhy, Chief Inspector Abdulla Mannan Yousuf, Inspector Mohamed Dhaoud, Superintendent Ahmed Mohamed, Superintendent Mohamed Jamsheed, Sub-Inspector Azim Waheed and Special Operations (S.O) Inspector Shameem.

S.O Officers in particular were openly displaying contempt for President Nasheed and hatred of the government, the report claimed. The police S.O, formerly known as the “Star Force”, was created during President Gayoom’s reign to quell public demonstrations by the nascent MDP during the post-2003 reform movement.

The report revealed that disciplinary action was taken against an S.O officer found to have boasted to PPM MP Ahmed Mahlouf on 23 January about brutalising MDP protesters near MMA, vowing to “destroy MDP.”

Mahlouf confirmed the incident the following night at the protest, the report noted.

Disciplinary action was also taken against an officer who revealed riot police strength in a text message to Umar Naseer.

Moreover, intelligence learned that S.O officers were informing the opposition of “all of President Nasheed’s movements.”

The report also alleged that the S.O made no attempt to break up disruptive protests led by the opposition for 22 consecutive nights, which saw the central bank’s windows smashed, a minister’s house vandalised, trees uprooted and a police officer set on fire.

The report further noted remarks by Umar Naseer during the 22 nights of protest asking for 2,000 volunteers to storm army barracks with 50 ladders, at which point “the people inside will be with us.”

“From today onward, we will turn this protest into one that achieves results,” Umar had said. “We know how people overthrow governments. Everything needed to topple the government of this country is now complete.”

The report also referred to a meeting after midnight on 31 January between the then-vice president and representatives of the December 23 coalition, after which the opposition pledged allegiance to Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and called on the security forces not to obey commands of President Nasheed.

Among the assurances sought by the opposition was for Dr Waheed to not resign “despite any pressure” and lead a national unity government until 2013.


Security switches on for SAARC

Armed forces, police and other relevant authorities are on alert for the SAARC Summit, Joint Inter Agency Taskforce Commander Hassan Ziyad said. Heads of State from the South Asian region, including high-profile leaders of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, will be arriving in Addu City starting November 5.

Ziyad told local media Haveeru that the heads of states are “considered high risk even in their own countries,” and that respective domestic security threats are being taken into account by SAARC security forces.

All attending countries are providing security measures. Indian surveillance aircraft and navy vessels are patrolling the areas around Addu City and Fuvahmulah.

Ziyad has said that six teams of sniffer dogs provided by Sri Lanka are among the most trusted security measures.

During a press conference last week, National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal assured that security was tight and “there is no risk at all, we aren’t even bothered about it.”

The armed forces will be on alert commencing Tuesday for the SAARC Summit to be held from November 10-11.


President forms committee to control gang violence in the Maldives

President Mohamed Nasheed has formed a special committee to curb gang violence and gang related crimes in the Maldives.

The committee consists of National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal, Home Minister Hassan Afeef, Attorney General Abdulla Muiz, State Defence Minister Mohamed Muiz Adnan and Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz.

The President’s Office said that the committee had their first meetings yesterday afternoon and had decided to establish a special task force to curb serious and organised crime.

The task force will be led by Maldives Police Service and will consist of officials from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS), Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Education, Courts of law, Prosecutor General’s Office, Maldives Customs Service, Ministry of Health and Family, Ministry of Human Resources Youth and Sports, Immigration Department and officials from the Local Government Authority.

The work of the special task force will be to secure the citizens of the country, isolate and arrest those who commit offences that disrupt the peace and harmony, to rehabilitate criminals and to offer opportunities for them to be back in society after they are reformed.

‘’This committee assures the citizens that we will constantly work to reinstate the peace in this country in national level,’’ the committee said in a statement via the president’s office. ‘’We will continuously try to gain attention and cooperation from the implementing agencies, businessman, NGOs, political parties and the public.’’

The committee said that in order to achieve its goal, all the institutions should corporate and work together.

This week the committee will meet the Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, National Security Committee [241 committee] of the parliament, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and other judges at the Supreme Court.

Recently a ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Rasheed presented an amendment to the Clemency Act which requires upholding death sentences if upheld by the Supreme Court and later withdrew it for the Penal Code and Evidence Bill was not yet passed.

In 2008 Rasheed said 104 cases of assault were sent to Prosecutor General, increasing to 454 in 2009 and 423 cases in 2010.

More recently 21 year-old Ahusan Basheer was stabbed to death on Alikileygefaanu Magu.

On June 2008, the major gangs in Male’ gave a press conference at Dharubaaruge and declared ‘’peace’’ and vowed to work together.