Criminal Court extends detention of 61 arrested protesters

The criminal court has extended the detention period of 61 protesters arrested on Thursday, in opposition to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan giving the presidential address to open the first session of parliament.

Police had arrested 67 protesters on the day, but released six of them later. Minivan News understands that those detained include former President Mohamed Nasheed’s brother, Nazim Sattar.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) called on police to immediately release of the detainees last night. MDP in a press statement stated: “The families of the detained are extremely concerned and some of the families have suffered psychologically following the arrests of the detainees.”

MDP also called on the courts to make their judgements freely and impartially to ensure the people’s trust in the judiciary was not tarnished any further.

“The detention extension issued by the courts regarding the protesters who had been arrested was against legal principles,” said member of MDP’s legal team and Chairman of the MDP Legal Affairs Committee, Ahmed Abdullah Afeef, in a press conference held by MDP on Friday night.

Afeef also stated that the detention extension had been carried out “unfairly”, and alleged that the whole process had been “pre-planned” before the protesters were even taken into the court.

“Police had no evidence to prove to the court that there was a legitimate reason to extended the detention periods. The actions of the criminal court imply more of a personal vendetta rather than an impartial decision,” said Afeef.

Afeef observed that during protests that took place during December 2011 under Nasheed’s government, police had sought the detention of several protesters, providing photo and video evidence proving attacks on police, but the criminal court had rejected it and released those detained.

Afeef said that the party would appeal the decisions of the Criminal Court and said the case would be filed in High Court today. Afeef also added that High Court has said that they will hold a hearing today.

Speaking to Minivan News today at the High Court building, Afeef said: “What we are trying to say is that there maybe people amongst the protesters who should be arrested, but it has to be done based on evidence.”

“As a principle, the judge would not know what happened at the protests. Decisions from a judge should come based on evidence. Here in this case, the police could not provide any evidence, but yet still the judge issued the detention extensions,” he said.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News today that 61 people arrested during the protests are in police custody, “all of them had arrested attempting to break through police lines, or attacking police officers. We have evidence and the investigation process is going on currently. We will submit that evidence to the authorities as well,” Shiyam said.

Fourteen police officers were injured on Thursday in skirmishes with demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks at officers. Four were seriously injured, and one officer was flown to Sri Lanka for further treatment.

Minivan News also observed police in riot gear cracking down protesters near the Reefside Shop in Chaandhanee Magu, without advance notice. Three protesters were taken into custody at the scene.

Questioned about the incident, Shiyam said that the people who are currently arrested were those who had “attacked the police officers”, that the others had been released.

The High Court was yet to announce the appeal hearings at the time of press.


Maldives facing serious constitutional crisis: Eurasia Review

There is no doubt that the judiciary in the Maldives is in a mess with many unqualified and incompetent people having made it into the judiciary in the void created during the transition period, writes Dr S. Chandrasekharan for the Eurasia Review.

“The ICJ report of July 2010 pointed out the legacy of an authoritarian past in which the President was the supreme judicial architect that has tested the transition.

“Another factor which inhibited proper selection was that the Judicial Service Commission failed to fulfill the constitutional mandate of properly vetting and reappointing the judges. Even the composition of the commission was questionable. Imagine Gasim Ibrahim being a member – he is a politician and leader of one of the active political parties. He has extensive business interests and there will be an unavoidable clash of interests.

“In the year 2005, the then Attorney General and now a leader of the DQP has himself reported against the judge and the allegations included misogyny, sexual deviance, throwing out an assault case despite the confession of the accused. The Judicial Commission took its own time to enquire into the allegations and meanwhile the judge approached the civil court and stopped the enquiry!

“The judge would have got away with all this but what triggered the anger of the government was that he issued orders for immediate release of two persons from custody – Dr Jameel, the Vice President of DQP and Sandhaanu Didi for asserting in a private broadcasting station that the government was working with the Jews and Christian priests and encouraging vice. Didi went further and made personal attacks against President saying that the President was a madman and a Christian!

“Confronted by the police, the two were not able to substantiate the allegations and were therefore taken into custody under 125 of penal code which said that a ‘person can be punished for making a fabricated statement or repeats a statement whose basis cannot be provided.’

“The Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed ordered the immediate release of the accused and the Police with the help of the MNDF in turn arrested the judge of the criminal court.
Police Sources say that the Judge was arrested for unethical conduct in obstructing the Police in exercising their responsibilities to preserve law and order in the society.

“The High Court ordered the release of the judge stating that the arrest was illegal. The Chief Justice Ahmad Faiz and the Prosecutor General also issued orders for the immediate release of the judge.

“The JSC (Judicial Service Commission) also issued a press note that it is not in the jurisdiction of the armed forces or the Police to take action against the judge.

“The Vice President has in his blog has said that the arrest is against article 319 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further it is against the international covenant of civil and political rights and international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance. He suggested that the judge should be released and then make the JSC fulfill its responsibilities.

“The Secretary General of SAARC and a former attorney General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, the youngest and the first female Secretary General, condemned the arrest in a television programme and said that it is a “violation of individual human rights, a violation of independence of the judiciary and a violation of the constitution.” She has put in her resignation papers after the broadcast.

“A team of lawyers filed a case against MNDF in the High Court over the illegal arrest of the judge. A case has also been filed in the International Court of Justice over the arrest.

“President Nasheed appears to be unrelenting and has justified the arrest. He has separately approached the UN for help in cleaning up the judiciary- immediate issues and the long term issues that includes the failure of the judicial accountability mechanism in the constitution.

“It looks that President Nasheed has over reached himself in firstly arresting and in refusing to release the judge when the overwhelming public opinion is against taking such a drastic action. He should have taken this strong stand last year during the transition when some of the judges appointed by the previous regime were found not having “high moral character, educational qualifications or competence.”
One of the charges against the judge now arrested was that in 2005 he was alleged to have requested the under age victim of molestation to re enact her abuse in court. The charge could not be enquired into by the judicial service commission as the judge got a stay order from the civil court.

“By this one act of arrest, President Nasheed is likely to antagonise all his admirers and sympathisers. Earlier it is undone, better it would be for all concerned.”

Full story


Police arrest two suspects over US$1million counterfeit notes

Police arrested two suspects on Thursday after recovering counterfeit dollars worth nearly US$1 million.

The two suspects have been identified by the police as 34 year-old Umar Ahmedfulhu of Banbukeyogasdhoshuge from Madduvaree island in Raa Atoll, and 29 year-old Ahmed Munnavaru of Tharividhaage from Kolamaafushi island in Gaafu Alif atoll.

According to Superintendent of Police Mohamed Riyaz, police investigators recovered the nearly US$1 million believed to be smuggled into the country from abroad.

Riyaz said US$774,900 was recovered from a bag Ahmedfulhu was carrying when he was arrested at an unnamed bank in Male’ on Thursday afternoon.

The suspect was attempting to deposit the fake notes at the bank, Riyaz added.

The second suspect, Munnavaru, was arrested the same evening while sitting at a café in the south west harbor of Male’.

During a court-ordered search of Munnavaru’s residence, police seized counterfeit notes from a cardboard box labeled in Dhivehi as “smoked fish 13 kilos”, Riyaz revealed, adding that police recovered counterfeit dollars from Munnavaru’s wallet as well.

Though police did not specify if the two suspects are connected, Riyaz observed that all the counterfeit notes recovered from both suspects were US$ 100 bills, labeled with a four-digit serial number.

The police are further investigating the case.

The Maldives penal code states that “possession of a counterfeit coin or note knowing it to be counterfeit and to be used fraudulently or in circumstances that it may be likely to be used as fraudulently” is an offence which carries maximum five year imprisonment or exile, or a fine.

The delivery of counterfeit note or coin is also counted as an offence, with a sentence of maximum three years in exile or imprisonment while the person found guilty can also be subjected to a fine.

However, leniency is offered if the person found guilty did not have knowledge that the note or coin is counterfeit, prior to possession.

The counterfeit dollars bust coincides with the reports of increasing demand for US dollars in the black market, due to the crippling dollar shortage the Maldivian economy has been suffering.

Local importers, Maldivians travelling outside the country and expatriate workers seeking to export their remittances are forced to rely on the unofficial black market, as they are unable to change the required amount into dollars at banks which strictly control the supply.


Policeman arrested for blackmailing woman with nude photograph

A policeman has been arrested for allegedly blackmailing a woman on Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll by putting her photograph on a pornographic image.

Haveeru reported that the man was in custody.

“We’re investigating the matter now. The man is from the island and the woman also lives in the island. It is of extreme disappointment that such an act was carried out by a policeman and we’re taking the matter very seriously,” a police spokesperson told Haveeru.

Haveeru spoke to the victim’s husband, who said the police officer had been blackmailing her for several days and that it “a lot of hard work” for her to escape by reporting the matter to police.


Police officer faints in court

The Criminal Court has said that a police officer who attended the court to request extension of detentions for persons arrested fainted inside the chamber last night.

”This incident occurred while he was presenting the request for extension of detention inside the Criminal Court,” said the court. ”The cause of this incident may be that he had to work long hours and was not fed.”

The court said the officer received no further injuries during the incident.

The Court noted that these days Male’ was in a harried condition and police and judges had been working very busy along with court staff.

”Many have been arrested by police on different charges lately. Last night 90 persons were brought before the judges,” said the Criminal Court.


Police arrest deputy speaker after 12 hour siege

Police today arrested Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and People’s Alliance (PA) MP Ahmed Nazim, after laying sieging to his house for half a day.

According to the warrant issued by the court this afternoon, police are seeking to question Nazim on matters concerning bribery, attempting to influence and threaten independent commissions, and attempting to physically harm political figures.

Police waited outside Nazim’s house from 11:00pm last night in an attempt to take him into questioning, but he remained inside. After several attempts by police to obtain a warrant, the court this afternoon issued a warrant for police to enter Nazim’s house without his permission.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that Nazim was taken to Dhoonidhoo police custodial.

A police spokesman said that police have been trying to summon Nazim for days regarding the investigation of a case reported to police.

”We last night informed the Speaker of the Parliament (Abdulla Shahid) that police needed to summon Nazim and had tried to take him [in for questioning], but Nazim did not co-operate with the police,” he said. ”He is now under police observation.”

He said that Nazim was “not arrested but summoned”.

Police recently arrested People’s Alliance (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim on charges of bribery and treason, after the case was reported to police by the President’s Office.

Days afterwards, several recordings believed to be of MPs discussing the sale of political influence and obstruction of bills were leaked to the media.

”The leaked audio clips were edited versions of the real clips,” claimed DRP MP Ahmed Nihan. ”They edited it in a way that they can achieve what they wanted.”

Local media have claimed that one of the voices in the leaked audio clips was Nazim’s.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan however condemned the arrest of the PA MP.

”This is what the government does to threaten the opposition,” said Nihan. ”He threatens the opposition leaders and MPs physically and mentally.”

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf said he ”always knew that dictator’s Nasheed’s actions would be like this.”

”Right after the peace talks [mediated by US Ambassador Patricia Butenis and more recently, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa] concluded, police went to arrest Nazim,” said Mahlouf. ”President Nasheed tries to solve problems by creating them.”

Mahlouf said that arresting Nazim “was like arresting the Vice President.”

”President Nasheed is very dangerous. I would do not think he would be afraid to shoot people either,” Mahlouf added.

Nihan claimed the government was now expecting opposition parties to hold demonstrations that would deteriorate the situation of the country further, in order to charge more opposition leaders and MPs.

”President Nasheed will be behind everything,” Nihan said. ”MDP is a party that never respects their words and their pledges.”

He said that the ‘new’ cabinet reinstated yesterday was unlawful and that the parliament would not approve some of the ministers.

Yesterday the President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair claimed the wording of the constitution was such that parliament was only required to assent to a cabinet as a whole, and was not required to endorse individual ministers.

In a joint press statement this morning, the Nasheed and Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa said the government and the opposition had agreed to constitute a six member Majlis committee “to carry forward a dialogue addressing such pressing issues as the appointment of the cabinet of ministers and the smooth functioning of the legislative process.”

Nazim chairs the parliamentary finance committee, which was at loggerheads with the Ministry of Finance over additions parliament made to the budget, such as the restoration of civil servant salaries.

Nazim also put forward a motion to dismiss former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem, after he was accused of corruption by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for using the government’s money to buy a tie and visit Thulhaidhu in Baa Atoll.

Naeem claimed the charges were an attempt to discredit his office and prevent him from reclaiming the government’s money stored in overseas bank accounts.

“A lot of the government’s money was taken through corrupt [means] and saved in the banks of England, Switzerland, Singapore and Malaysia,” Naeem had claimed two weeks prior, announcing a financial audit of all current and former ministers.

Nazim the previous week had pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the former ministry of atolls development while he was Managing Director of Namira Engineering and Trading Pvt Ltd.

Both Nazim and Speaker of the Parliament DRP MP Abdulla Shahid did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Court denies warrant – Nazim arrest attempt fails

Police failed to arrest Majlis deputy speaker and Dhiggaru MP Ahmed Nazim when he arrived home at Aabin in Galolhu ward, reports Haveeru.

The arrest attempt failed when residents of the house prevented police from entering without a warrant, according to Haveeru, and Nazim’s lawyer and several opposition MPs also came to the house.

Last week, the police arrested Mulaku MP Abdulla Yamin and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim on allegations of treason and bribery of Majlis members, and the Maldives media identified Nazim’s voice in recorded phone conversations discussing negotiations with the Anti-Corruption Commission, an unidentified MP and million rufiyaa payments.


DRP claims Lhohi arrests were politically motivated

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has expressed concern that five arrests made in Lhohi island, Noonu Atoll last Friday were politically motivated.

Police Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed five people were arrested in Lhohi last Friday night for starting a fight. He said they were taken to the island’s court and were being kept for seven days while investigations continue.

Two other people were injured in the fight and were taken to hospital, Shiyam said, but they were not seriously injured.

Shiyam noted the fight was most likely “unrelated to politics,” but added that as the investigation is ongoing, there was a possibility it this might prove otherwise.

Spokesperson for the DRP Ibrahim Shareef said “the island councillor planned all of this.”

He said “the boys who were arrested weren’t even on the island” but were attending a DRP rally in Miladhu. “When they returned, police were waiting for them, and accused them of a mugging.”

Shareef said the five men arrested were DRP activists on Lhohi and the island councillor arrested them for political reasons. “The island councillor burned the DRP flag,” he added.

He said “very strange things are happening,” on the islands, most of which “the leadership in Malé doesn’t know about.”

A source at the Lhohi island office told Minivan News the fight was “nothing political,” but was rather an act of revenge.

The source said a man was attacked by five people “because he had tried to push another man’s wife earlier.”

After sunset, the woman’s husband and brother, along with some of their friends, attacked the man and beat him, the source claimed. “He was injured and taken to hospital,” he said, adding that the man was now recovering.


Police sweeps arresting innocents, say gang members

Police had arrested 25 gangsters in an special operation police conducted to avoid gang violence in Male’ and make the city peaceful.

In a press conference yesterday, police noted that gangsters in Male’ were becoming more coordinated “and there has been a corresponding rise in planned and organised crime.”

Deputy commissioner of police Mohamed Rilwan revealed in a press conference yesterday that gangs had been observed adapting to police tactics and becoming more sophisticated in their approach to crime.

Rilwan said that when police raided gang areas and the houses of gang members during the recent crackdown, they found stashes of weapons and other items. These included knives, masks, mobile phones, toy guns, box cutters, watches and sunglasses.

Rilwan promised that police would make Male’ peaceful and ensure gangsters had “no more chances” to commit crime in the country.

During last week’s special operation against gang crime, police arrested 25 suspects including Ahmed Nafiz [Chika], Ahmed Rizam, Shifau Abdul Waheed [Shifa], Mohamed Ahusan [Ahu], Mohamed Aswad [Maxy], Hussein Razeen, Ahmed Shaz, Hassan Ali [Hassu], Adam Ziyad, Ahmed Husham, Ahmed Shiruhan [Shiru], Hussein Alwan, Ahsan Basheer, Ahmed Ismail [Ahandhu], Fahud Ibrahim, Fazeel Hameed, Ahmed Muaz, Rilwan Faruhath [Ilu].

Political connections

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair expressed concern that “some of the politicians use gangsters for political reasons.”

”It is not acceptable for politicians to use any other tool than words,” he said.

He said the gang situation in the city had worsened “because of the failed educational policies of the former government.”

”I am very confident that the police will make this a peaceful city,” he said.

A gang member calling himself ‘IJ’ told Minivan News that police had arrested “many innocent people” during the special operation.

”It’s okay to arrest people who are connected with a case they are investigating,” he said, ”but it was really bad that police arrested innocent people among us.”

He said the police were “arresting anyone they feel like, and keeping them in custody for a long period of time.”

As a result, the prisoners were “given a bad reputation and encouraged to become involved in crime.”

He said that it was good that police were making Male’ peaceful, “as people are afraid to walk the streets.”

”Gangs are not afraid of the streets, the only fear for us is the police,” he said.

He said he hoped police would show professionalism when they raided more streets in Male’, “and arrest only guilty people.”

Another gang member told Minivan News that the police could not make the the streets peaceful as long as he was there.

He said the police were arresting friends of criminals, “making their parents think they were also criminals. ”

”If someone visits us to play cards and chat, police would arrest him too,” he said. ”Then people think he’s also a gangster, so he gets angry and changes himself into one.”

He claimed that they had fought police “many times. They come and disturb us even if we were sitting to chat,” he said, ”which makes us angry and want to go against them. Then they arrest all of us.”

He said the police had confiscated a lot of gang property, including sofas and chairs which they had bought.

“The gangs are not gathering to do crimes, just to sit down and chat with friends,” he said.

Sub Inspector of police Ahmed Shiyam said the police were checking and arresting anyone they suspected of gang involvement, and acknowledged that sometimes people who were not gang members had been arrested.

Even though those arrested might get bad reputations, “there is no other way due to the situation in the country,” he said.