Adhaalath Party, Jumhooree Party leaders charged with terrorism

Adhaalath Party (AP) president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Jumhooree Party (JP) deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and JP council member Sobah Rasheed have been charged with terrorism for allegedly inciting violence during the May Day anti-government demonstration.

The prosecutor general’s (PG) office reportedly filed the terrorism charges at the criminal court today. The charges under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act carry a sentence of between 10 to 15 years in prison.

Imran and Ameen were arrested after the May Day protest and accused of encouraging violence in their speeches, which police contend led to protesters assaulting police officers, damaging property, and disrupting public order and safety.

Sobah Rasheed was arrested from an opposition street protest on May 3.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Ali Waheed was also arrested on May 1, but the PG office has reportedly not made a decision on prosecuting the former MP.

The terrorism charges follow President Abdulla Yameen’s invitation for separate talks with the three allied opposition parties. Imran, Ameen, and Ali Waheed are among the representatives of their respective parties.

Following his release last week after 26 days under police custody, Imran denied the allegations of encouraging violence. The police had also accused the opposition leaders of threatening President Yameen and other senior government officials.

More than 20,000 people took to the street on May 1 calling for the release of imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim, whose arrests sparked the ongoing political crisis.

The May Day demonstration was the largest anti-government protest in over a decade.

Nasheed was charged with terrorism over the detention of a judge during his tenure and sentenced to 13 years in prison in March.

The PG office has also filed terrorism charges against the driver of a pickup that broke through police lines during the May Day demonstration.

The pickup used at the protest drove through barricades and the line of Specialist Operations police officers at high speed and was stopped near the Islamic centre.

The police said at the time that the driver was instructed and paid by protest organisers to break through the police lines.

Riot police cracked down on the May Day demonstration with tear gas, pepper spray and baton charges after protesters attempted to enter Malé’s restricted Republic Square at dusk.

Nearly 200 people were arrested and scores of protesters and some police officers were injured during violent clashes.

The opposition alliance has meanwhile called for a mass protest on June 12.

The terrorism charges against Sheikh Imran also comes after President Yameen threatened to prosecute the religious conservative party’s leader over allegations linking the president to the murder of MP Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.


MDP denounces ‘arbitrary arrest’ of senior party official

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has raised concern over what they called the “arbitrary arrest” of its deputy secretary general yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Anas Abdul Sattar said police officers approached him at the waiting room in the ADK hospital in Malé at 3pm while he was waiting with his wife for a doctor’s consultation.

He was told to come with the officers to the police headquarters to clarify information.

Police officers did not have a court warrant, he said.

When Anas’ wife’s consultation with the doctor was completed, police officers did not allow Anas to take her home, but “forced” him to go to the headquarters in a police vehicle, he said.

At the headquarters, police officers told him he was accused of an offence and said they required a statement, but did not provide details on the offence.

Anas then requested for legal counsel.

Police officers later said they had only wanted to meet with some senior officials of the MDP to seek information about the opposition’s ongoing protests over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed, he said.

The MDP is organising a third mass protest on June 12.

Police have placed several restrictions on opposition protests, including a ban on the use of four-wheeled vehicles without prior permission, since a crackdown on a historic demonstration on May 1.

Anas was released at 5:30pm.

“It is very disappointing when the police are able to take anyone at any time without any attention to the state or circumstances they are in,” he said.

He also raised concern over how the police had found out he was at the ADK hospital

“The police’s actions are very concerning. If they want to question an individual, it should be done through the official channels.”

The police denied today they had taken Anas to the police headquarters against his will. A spokesperson said Anas had come willingly on the police’s request.

However, the MDP vice chairperson Ali Shiyam today called the police’s actions arbitrary.

MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz said the party has now asked the police to communicate with the party in writing, claiming the police only lecture party officials on democracy at meetings.


26 arrested in MDP’s all day protests

The Maldives Police Services arrested 26 protesters from opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) “last warning” rally in Malé last night.

MDP MP Fayyaz Ismail, Vice President Mohamed Shifaz, former MP Ilyas Labeeb and three minors were among those arrested between 10:30pm and 1am. Police claimed the protest was not peaceful.

Fayyaz and two others have since been remanded for 15 days. The rest have been released on the condition they do not participate in protests again.

Protesters had called for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed, who remains imprisoned amidst a terrorism trial over the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Two journalists from Villa TV and CNM were briefly detained last night for allegedly “obstructing police duties.”

Specialist Operations (SO) officers charged into the crowd of protesters several times throughout the night, using pepper spray indiscriminately.

Meanwhile, approximately 200 MDP supporters took to the seas at 4pm, traveling near Dhoonidhoo Island Detention Center where Nasheed is imprisoned. Hundreds more staged a motor cycle rally in Malé simultaneously.

The MDP claims terrorism charges against Nasheed are politically motivated and have pointed to several irregularities in the trial, including two of the three judges overseeing the trial having provided witness statements during a 2012 investigation into Judge Abdulla’s arrest.

The largest opposition party last week scaled up protests, with letter campaigns, daily protests and motorcycle rallies under the banner “Warning!”


Hundreds set out from Usfasgandu at 9pm, and split at the Majeedhee Magu and Sosun Magu junction. Those on foot headed down Medhuziyarai Magu, while hundreds on motorbikes headed down Majeedhee Magu.

When protesters reached the former presidential palace at Muleeage, SO officers in riot gear charged into the crowd and arrested Shifaz, Fayyaz, and Ilyas. The MDP in a statement immediately condemned the police’s alleged targeting of its leadership.

Police pushed some protesters back to Sosun Magu, and chased others into the narrow lanes behind the People’s Majlis.

Protesters quickly regrouped near the Seagull café on Chaandhanee Magu, but riot police once again pushed them back to Majeedhee Magu.

On a live blog at 11pm, the police claimed masked individuals had threatened to kill police officers. Journalists on the scene observed police made no move to arrest the masked individuals.

The MDP in a statement this morning claimed: “The police have allowed armed gangs, loyal to the government, to attack pro democracy protesters. There have also been reports of masked police in plainclothes attacking members of the public during these protests. No action has been taken against these individuals.”

“Also of concern is the intimidating and confrontational nature of the Police who dismantle these protests. Police arbitrarily announce areas where the public cannot assemble, closing down main roads at random. Protesters have been heavily pepper sprayed, and masses of riot Police have charged at peaceful protesters on the capital city’s busiest roads,” the statement added.

The police have also banned protests near the Malé City Hall until March 15, claiming businesses in the area had been complaining over protesters allegedly disrupting business.

As the confrontation with police and protesters went on, pictures started circulating on social media depicting Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) officers carrying firearms. The MNDF immediately dismissed the pictures as false.

Confrontation at sea

Prior to the rally, approximately 200 protesters took to the sea on six vessels. The boats departed from the T-Jetty at 4pm, calling for the immediate release of Nasheed, former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and all activists arrested at recent protests.

Nazim, charged with importing and possessing illegal weapons, is in police custody until his trial concludes.

After circling Malé City, the boats headed for Dhoonidhoo Island, where several coastguard and police vessels had set up a barricade. Police speedboats circled around the protesters, creating waves that rocked the boats wildly.

In a statement afterwards, police warned it would check the boats used for the protest to ensure they met all safety standards and take legal action against any boat that had carried more passengers than its carrying capacity.

On Thursday, 14 MDP women were arrested from a protest at the airport. They were released the next day.

The MDP along with opposition Jumhooree Party staged a 10,000 strong rally in Malé on February 27, and issued 13 demands on President Abdulla Yameen, including Nasheed and Nazim’s release. The government has refused to initiate talks, claiming the demands were not beneficial to the public.

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MNDF denounce social media rumors of weapon use

The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has denied social media rumors claiming the military may use weapons on the public.

A statement by the MNDF today said such rumors were spread to incite fear and hatred, and undermine public trust in the military.

Following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest on Monday, pictures of armed soldiers began circulating on social media, but the MNDF told Minivan News there was no unusual activity within the military at the time.

Tensions are high in Malé with the former president’s arrest, and the allied opposition parties have planned a mass demonstration for February 27.


Nazim remains in custody as High Court rejects appeal

The High Court has upheld the Criminal Court’s decision to hold former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in remand custody for 15 days.

Nazim was arrested on February 10 on charges of treason and terrorism after police discovered a pistol and bullets during a midnight raid at the then-defence minister’s apartment on January 18.

Following the Criminal Court’s extension of his remand detention, Nazim’s legal team appealed the decision at the High Court.

“The High Court ruled that the decision by the Criminal Court to remand Nazim in custody is justified,” Maumoon Hameed, head of the legal team, told the press after today’s hearing.

“From Nazim’s side we are now working to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court next week.”

Nazim’s defense team argued in the appeal court that there was no substantial evidence to keep the retired colonel in pre-trial detention in accordance with the constitution, contending that the Criminal Court’s arrest warrant violated precedents set by both the High Court and Supreme Court.

The lawyers also argued that the Maldives Police Services has made inconsistent statements, noting that the police had claimed that the investigation was still ongoing after previously declaring that it had been concluded.


Supporters of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) alliance demonstrated outside the court as the hearing proceeded.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed and JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim have repeatedly called for Nazim’s immediate release from custody, accusing the government of “framing” the former minister.

Nazim is accused of plotting a coup and planning to harm senior government officials.

Nazim’s defense team has since submitted a complaint to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and filed a defamation case against Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed in the Civil Court.

While police claimed to have found an improvised explosive device (IED) at Nazim’s apartment, the former minister’s lawyers have dismissed the allegations, insisting that police also planted the pistol and bullets.

Two days after the 3:00am raid on his residence, Nazim declared that “no citizen has security” under President Abdulla Yameen’s rule. Since his arrest and dismissal from the cabinet, Nazim has also left the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

Nazim faces a jail term between ten and 15 years if he is found guilty of terrorism.

Meanwhile, the allied opposition parties have accused the PPM government of authoritarianism, harassing political rivals and repeatedly violating the constitution by unlawfully dismissing the Auditor General and two Supreme Court judges.

On February 11, the MDP and JP launched nightly protests “in defence of the constitution” as the judiciary moved to resume a trial against former President Nasheed.

The MDP and JP have also condemned the government’s alleged economic sanctions against JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim after the tourism ministry annulled lease agreements of three uninhibited islands and three lagoons.

The properties were reportedly given to Gasim’s Villa Group under a settlement agreement when Kaadehdhoo Airport and some uninhibited islands were taken from the company and nationalised.

However, the PPM maintains the opposition has failed to demonstrate how the government had breached the constitution and were only attempting to disrupt public order.

“This party believes these protests are aimed at obstructing President Yameen’s administration’s successful work at establishing peace and security. [The opposition] is disrupting the economic, social and political order in the country,” the PPM said in a press statement today.

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No forensic evidence against Nazim, says legal team

Police do not have forensic evidence to support possession of dangerous weapons charges against former Defense Minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, his legal team has claimed.

Maumoon Hameed told media last night (February 15) that the police were unable to provide any forensic evidence at Nazim’s remand hearing, despite both Nazim and his family having previously provided fingerprints and DNA samples.

“In 2013, the police spoke to the media and said that they are capable of processing 600 fingerprints per hour. What is taking them so long to process Nazim, his wife, two kids’ and their maid’s fingerprint samples?” asked Hameed.

After his arrest on February 10, Nazim was given 15 days of remand detention by the Criminal Court. Police had raided the apartment on January 18, later claiming to have found a pistol, three bullets, and an improvised explosive device.

Additionally, a pen drive was said to have been found containing evidence of an attempt to harm senior government officials, in what the police have said was a plan to overthrow the government.

Posters have since appeared around Malé City with the slogan ‘Free Nazim Now’, while several prominent politicians as well as Amnesty International have expressed concern over his sudden arrest.

“The day before yesterday the defense minister was hailed and deemed trustworthy,” said Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson Ali Waheed speaking at a protest last week. “Now he is in a jail cell accused of crimes of a magnitude never seen before in Maldives”.

Nazim’s legal team said last night that the High Court has accepted two appeal cases filed by the legal team – one appealing Nazim’s arrest, with the second case appealing Criminal Court’s remand sentence.

The team has also announced that a defamation case had been submitted against the Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed for telling the press on January 29 that an explosive device was found during the raid.

The High Court appeal hearing is scheduled for 1.45pm today (February 16).

The legal team had previously claimed that the items found at Nazim’s house were planted by the Police, saying that officers spent 10 minutes inside Nazim’s bedroom unsupervised before the search began. Police have called the claims “untrue” and “baseless”.

Hameed also informed the media last night that the police had not responded to requests to share evidence against Nazim in order to allow the preparation of his defense, or for the items allegedly confiscated from his house to be investigated by an independent commission.

Also speaking at yesterday’s press conference, former Police Commissioner and member of Nazim’s defence Abdulla Riyaz reiterated his belief that some officers are following unlawful orders from politicians.

“I am saying this as an individual who has served  at the institution for over 20 years, no police officers should act in an unjust manner towards any individual,” said Riyaz.

The former police commissioner also highlighted issues with the search, saying that the police had not followed due procedures – claims the police have also denied repeatedly

“When conducting high profile searches, the Police always films the search,” said Riyaz. “However we have not been provided with a video footage of the search as of yet.”

Additionally, Riyaz suggested that if the police had found an improvised explosive device at his home, the area should have been evacuated, and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) and the fire and rescue services informed.

The MNDF yesterday said that it would begin providing security for Riyaz after an official request for protection last week.

“People are following me everywhere I go. I feel somewhat threatened. I have requested for security but MNDF are yet to grant me security,” Riyaz told Minivan News yesterday.

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Man wearing a belt representing a cannabis leaf arrested

At 19-year-old man has been arrested in Gaaf Dhaalu Rathafandhoo Island for wearing a belt with an insignia representing the cannabis leaf.

A Maldives Police Service (MPS) media statement read that the man was arrested for “encouraging the use of drugs’” by wearing the belt.

The statement also read that the man was arrested at around 10pm yesterday (December 23) after the police received a tip-off saying that a drug deal was happening. The offending belt was seen while searching the man’s body for drugs.

According to Article 128 of the Drugs Act, encouraging the use of drugs is illegal in the Maldives and is a crime punishable by 3 years of jail time.


Individual suspected of stealing from MIRA arrested

The individual sought by police on suspicion of stealing a large sum of money from Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) has been arrested, reports local news outlet Sun Online.

Police stated that the individual was arrested at around 9:30pm last night (April 23).

“He was arrested with assistance from members of the public. He is of Bangladeshi nationality. More information will be revealed after investigation,” a police media official told Sun.

Police said earlier that the individual has been suspected of stealing MVR26,000 that had been placed on the service counter at MIRA on Sunday.

According to police, the individual stole the money from a service counter at the office on 20 April 2013. The stolen MVR26,000 was kept on the counter by another person who was at the office to pay taxes.


Two more people arrested in connection with Thinadhoo death

Police have yesterday arrested two more people from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll in connection with the death of Ali Rasheed,79, who was found dead inside his house last Friday (April 4).

Police have said that the two persons arrested were Maldivians aged 33 and 39.

The 33 year-old man was arrested late yesterday afternoon while the 39 year-old man was arrested last night, the police told local newspapers.

Ali Rasheed was found dead lying on the floor of his room. He was living alone following the death of his wife some years earlier.

A source from the island told online newspaper Sun that Rasheed had a six-inch laceration on his head and a swollen left eye.

Police said the death was being investigated as they suspected foul play. An investigation team was dispatched to the island.