Two arrested over murder of Bangladeshi waiter

Police have arrested two Maldivians over the murder of a Bangladeshi waiter by masked men last week which began a spate of violence against expatriate workers.

A 24-year-old man was arrested at around 9.30 pm Monday evening under a court warrant, after a 21-year-old was arrested earlier in the evening, a police statement said.

Both are being held in connection with the killing of Bangladeshi national Shaheen Mia, 25, in the early hours of March 22. The police serious and organised crime department continues to investigate.

Police media officials refused to comment on whether there are additional suspects linked to the murder.

Mia was stabbed near his workplace, Lhiyanu Café in Malé’s Western harbour district, at about 4.00am on March 22 by a group of masked men and stabbed in the chest.

The attack followed a series of repeated threats to the cafe the previous day.

Earlier, a violent confrontation had occurred between Lhiyanu Café staff and a group of young men in the early hours of Saturday morning when the expatriate workers refused to serve coffee free of charge. The group vandalized the café before they left, according to local media.

The same group came to the café at 6:00pm on Saturday and allegedly threatened to burn the place down. Staff had reported all threats to the police.

The murder was followed by a spike in violence towards migrant workers, with four expatriate workers stabbed in the following week.

Two days after Mia’s death, a Bangladeshi national identified as Bilal was found dead in Alif Alif Atoll Thoddoo, naked except for a piece of cloth around his neck.

Speaking to Minivan News at the time, Thoddoo Council’s Assistant Director Ali Adam said a suicide was “highly unlikely” as Bilal could not have strangled himself with a piece of cloth.

Following the violence, Bangladeshi workers called for a protest in front of the Bangladeshi High Commission in Malé, but the protest was cancelled after the Department of Immigration threatened to deport protesters and take action against their employers.

The Ministry of Economic Development, citing increasing violence in the capital, has changed the closing times of shops and restaurants to 10.00 pm and 12.00 am respectively.

The Home Ministry meanwhile cancelled earth hour celebrations on March 28, also citing security concerns. Despite the cancellation, a 29 year old man was stabbed in near India Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 82nd anniversary of the Maldives Police Service, Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the government is preparing changes to several laws to increase police powers and remove “loopholes”.

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MP Mahloof, Raajje TV journalists among nine arrested at opposition protest

MP Ahmed Mahloof and opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV journalist Mohamed Wisam and cameraman Adam Zareer are among nine arrested from last night’s opposition protest march.

A police media official told Minivan News today that the former ruling party MP, two journalists and six others were arrested for “obstructing police duties and disobeying police orders.”

The Criminal Court this morning extended the remand detention of the Galolhu South MP and the two journalists to five days.

While one protester was released from police custody, the court extended the remand detention of two protesters to seven days and three protesters to five days.

Photos of Specialist Operations (SO) police officers manhandling the Mahloof have been widely circulated on social media. Journalists at the scene reported that the MP’s shirt was ripped open during the arrest near the fish market.

Photo from Ranreendhoo Maldives
Photo from Ranreendhoo Maldives

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has meanwhile condemned Mahloof’s arrest, claiming he was “targeted” by the police and due to his outspoken criticism of the government following his expulsion from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The ruling party’s disciplinary committee expelled Mahloof on February 25 for allegedly defaming President Yameen and bringing the government into disrepute with false statements in the media.

In a statement released today, the MDP claimed Mahloof was arrested “brutally” and condemned police for “obstructing the protest in violation of the Constitution”.

Police used obscene language while arresting the MP, the statement alleged.

The opposition party said riot police officers pepper MDP MP Ali Nizar as well as other protesters in the eye and confiscated the protest’s “sound pickup” and loudspeakers.

Raajje TV has meanwhile condemned the arrests of the two journalists, describing the arrests as an “obstruction of rights guaranteed under the constitution, including the rights to freedom of information and freedom of press.”

A Channel One journalist was also arrested the previous night for allegedly obstructing police duties. The Criminal Court extended his remand detention to 10 days.

Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of its staff, Raajje TV noted that it was “yet to receive any justice with regards to previous attacks targeted to our station and journalists.”

Raajje TV journalist Wisam interviewing MP Mahloof
Raajje TV journalist Wisam interviewing MP Mahloof

The Maldives Police Service also released a statement alleging that protesters assaulted several police officers last night after breaking through barricades near the Republic Square.

Protests are banned in the ‘green zone’ area encompassing the Republic Square as well as police and military headquarters.

Protesters also smashed the windows of a police vehicle last night, the statement added. Police officers on the vehicle were attempting to stop protesters from using loudspeakers after 11:00pm.

Invoking powers granted by Article 41 of the Freedom of Assembly Act, police issued a statement earlier this week ordering protest organisers not to use loudspeakers or megaphones after 11:00pm and to end the protest at 12:00am.

Moreover, police warned protesters against repeatedly gathering in one location or street.

 

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UK alerts British tourists to protests in Malé

The United Kingdom has alerted British nationals travelling to the Maldives to take security precautions and to avoid large gatherings in Malé following the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed on february 22.

“Take care, remain vigilant, take appropriate security precautions and avoid large gatherings, protests and rallies,” read the travel advice updated yesterday (February 23).

The advisory read that all British nationals should contact the British High commission in Sri Lank for any consular assistance, and that the honorary consul in capital Malé can liase with the British High  Commission in Sri Lanka in case of emergencies .

The alert also noted that there is a general threat of terrorism in the Maldives, saying that attacks could be indiscriminate, in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers including tourists, and urged travelers to take comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.

Read the full travel advice here

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Comment: Why we must object to the farce of a ‘trial’ against Nasheed

This article first appeared on DhivehiSitee.com. Republished with permission

On Sunday, former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, was arrested. The arrest warrant issued by Criminal Court stated “terrorism charges brought against the subject and fears that he may not attend the Court or go into hiding” as reason for arrest.

The evidence and substantiation for Court decision was given as, “how matters had transpired when a case against subject was heard at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, and Police Intelligence reports”. The arrest warrant was provided on the request of the Prosecutor General who was according to the arrest warrant, “investigating case”.

Till then, there had been no mention of terrorism charges against Nasheed by any authority nor had an investigation into terrorist activities by Nasheed taken place.

Local media soon reported the trial has been scheduled in Criminal Court for 4pm today, and it emerged that the Prosecutor General had filed new terrorism charges in Criminal Court after withdrawing the case against Nasheed pending in Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court for over two years as Nasheed challenged the cherrypicking of his trial bench by the Judicial Service Commssion and the procedural appeals dragged on without decision.

As the new trial begins in a couple of hours, there is more reason than ever before to object to the farce.

  1. The current Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin is a former Criminal Court judge, who worked as a junior judge under Criminal Court chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed who is himself the subject in the case against Nasheed.
  1. Media reports the Criminal Court has selected a bench of three judges – Judge Abdulla Didi, Judge Ahmed Rasheed and Judge Shujau Usman – for the case.

The first two are both former members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) who played crucial roles within JSC in both re-appointing Abdulla Mohamed as judge despite him not meeting criteria and pending serious misconduct issues, and in covering up misconduct after re-appointment.

Moreover, both carry bias against Nasheed evident in JSC records, especially in discussions of misconduct allegations against Judge Abdulla Mohamed filed with the JSC by the President’s Office in 2009 when Nasheed was in office.

Judge Didi served on the JSC from it’s establishment as an interim commission in 2008 till 2015 as the lower courts appointee. Ahmed Rasheed elected by the law community served on the JSC from 2009 to 2015 and was appointed a Criminal Court judge by the JSC just days ago.

The third, Shujau Usman, was re-appointed a Magistrate by JSC despite a criminal record and was one of three magistrates cherry-picked by the JSC for the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench for Nasheed’s case.

Nasheed’s trial then is not simply political persecution by the government of President Yameen but an already orchestrated trial, managed by the JSC, with the Prosecutor General and the Criminal Court bench already set against Nasheed and ready to avenge Abdulla Mohamed.

Meanwhile, heading the JSC today is Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed infamous for his white underpants and sex tapes gone viral on the internet.

Aishath Velezinee sat on the Judicial Services Commission from 2009-2011.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]rchive.com

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“The authorities arrived in a wave of terror”, says eyewitnesses of Anbaraa arrests

Physical abuse, verbal harassment, and the excessive use of weapons have been reported by some of those detained following the police raids on the Anbaraa music festival last weekend.

“They used a lot of weapons- stun grenades and tazers, pretty excessive force when you’re raiding,” a reliable source told Minivan News.

Other attendees suggested police had threatened both physical torture and sexual violence. All Maldivian nationals interviewed for this article chose to remain anonymous.

Festival attendee Brandon Ingram – a Sri Lankan national – described the authorities as arriving “in a wave of terror, shooting their guns and shouting their violence in Dhivehi.”

The two day music festival – attended by 198 people,  including international DJs – was raided by police at 12:00am on Saturday (April 19), with the aim of shutting down the event.

A total of 79 people were arrested from the uninhabited island in Vaavu atoll, 19 of whom have been released to house arrest, while the remaining are being held at the Dhoonidhoo detention facility.

“They shot flares and one of them [an eyewitness] told me stun grenades were shot in centre of dance floor. Stun grenades are meant for dispersing large crowds – they shouldn’t be shooting at people,” stated an authority investigating the case.

Ingram’s recently published testimony of the raid describes gunfire and lasers, associated with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

Another person present at the festival alleged that, once they were handcuffed, police refused to give them water, had tightened the cuffs when they complained of swollen wrists, and refused to let them go to the toilet.

After a body search at around 1am, the police changed the cuffs to the front and the detainees fell asleep leaning on one another.

The tents and belongings were checked at around midday the following day, the source continued. The cuffs were only taken off after they had picked the 79 to be arrested – meaning they were handcuffed for 13 to 14 hours.

Verbal Abuse

In addition, many of the detainees have stated that police verbally threatened them. One attendee alleged that police told people, “if they didn’t calm down they would all be killed.”

“[Police] verbally abused all of them, harassed them, some of the girls – especially the girls – I heard a lot, one of them [police] said they were going to shove their batons up them.”

“One girl resisting arrest, they hit her from behind and manhandled her, another girl they pulled by the hair and shoved into the sand. It was mostly toward people who were resisting arrest,” stated a source who is investigating the arrests.

According to another eyewitness at the festival, while they were lying on the ground, one girl reportedly heard a policeman say, “why don’t we pour petrol on them and set them on fire, who’d know?”.

Additionally, Ingram recalled the “those authoritative looks of accomplishment and farcical displays of power.”

“They said to us, with conviction, ‘heroine, yea, that’s whatever… but alcohol and LSD, very dangerous.’ They pointed at the girls who were in shorts and tank tops and said: ‘these girls are naked in public, that is against law.'”

“They went on to say – ‘on resort anyone can do whatever they want, on normal island, you cannot.’ They also said – ‘Maldivian boys and girls want to have fun, they can go to other countries, other places, not here’.”

However, Ingram’s account claimed that the treatment by the police was not malevolent.

“They were not unkind to us – in fact they were almost as nice as our Maldivian friends,” he observed.

Drug tests

After the raid, police confirmed with the media that out of the 198 searched, the 79 arrested either tested positive for drugs, or had drugs in their possession.

Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh noted at a press briefing that the 79 persons taken into custody were arrested either with drugs in their possession or police suspected they were under the influence of drugs.

While the remaining 119 were released without charge, Satheeh revealed that none of them had been tested for drug use.

“The people who were let go were supposedly the people who they didn’t find anything on them. The urine test were taken much later,” confirmed a source investigating the arrests.

At the time of the arrests, the only tests the police carried out were a breathalyser test, with only two people testing positive for this, they continued.

Contrary to police reports, “they didn’t do urine tests for everyone,” revealed the source, adding that this was a key point that could stand in the detainees favour.

The Police Integrity Commission declined to comment on the events when contacted by Minivan News today, saying they were not yet investigating the case.

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200 searched and 79 arrested at music festival in Maldives

Seventy-nine individuals have been arrested with large amounts of drugs and cash after police raided the OTUM music festival last night (April 18).*

Police have revealed that 59 males and 19 females were arrested – with an underage girl and a foreign male included in the group.

The festival, which was organised by The Underground Movement collective, was a two day event on Anbaraa, Vaavu atoll – an uninhabited island around an hour and a half south of Malé.

A source who was as the event told Minivan News that a large group of police officers suddenly raided the island and made everyone lie on the ground before handcuffing them.

Haveeru has reported that the rest of those initially detained were released after testing negative for illegal substances.

According to one source, an estimated 60 people have been arrested and are being taken to Atolhuvehi, a custodial centre in Malé.

The remaining people who were searched and tested negative for illicit substances have been released, according to the source.

In addition, a local lawyer who wished to stay anonymous has informed Minivan News that he had gone to Athuluvehi at around midday today (April 19), which time the Police did not have any record of the detainees on their system.

“During that time they ought to have access to counsel but you don’t. If someone from Malé was to contact the police about a person detained, they would have no record of them”

“Normally you’d think the point of arrest would be as soon as the police retrains or detains you in any form – from what I’ve heard , most of them or all of them have been handcuffed and had their possessions searched and have been asked for body samples.”

“From what I hear, they may have been taken into custody – may be taken to court at 7:30pm as it’s a saturday. Only at 4pm the police will decide who will be arrested and processed,” the lawyer explained.

Additionally, the source explained that police cannot search people unless they have reason to believe that they are under the influence. He added that there were currently three lawyers working on the case, and will be meeting with the arrested people in the coming hours.

“We will be going to the custodial centre now,” he stated. “They will most likely get charged under the drugs act.”

Prior to the arrests, a local DJ Angie – who was set to perform at the festival – had told Minivan News that OTUM was a rare opportunity for local musicians to showcase their talents and play music they are passionate about.

OTUM had stated that they have a strict no alcohol policy: “Bouncers will check you when you board the ferry for any possession of sharp objects & any illegal substances,” read the event’s guidelines.

*A previous version of this article – published prior to police releasing official figures – gave an estimated total of 60 arrests following discussion with witnesses and lawyers.

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Brother of Vice Presidential candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali arrested while under the influence

The brother of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Mohamed Adil, was arrested yesterday while under the influence, reports local media.

Adil, also a director at One & Only Reethi Rah Resort, was arrested at Ibrahim Nasir National Airport upon his arrival from overseas, according to CNM. He was arrested “after his behavior gave away that he was high”.

Police told local media they “arrested a 37-year-old Maldivian from the airport VIP lounge who was intoxicated” at approximately 4:30pm Tuesday (July 23).

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MDP Youth Wing President sues police for “unlawful” confiscation of mobile

The Youth Wing President of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Aminath Shauna, is suing the Maldives Police Service (MPS) for the “unlawful” confiscation of her cell phone, reports local media.

Her mobile phone was confiscated following her arrest during a July 2012 MDP protest. As her phone was held against a court order, according to Shauna, she is seeking a Civil Court ruling that declares the police action was illegal.

“I was arrested on allegations that I obstructed police duty. After arresting me around 6pm, the [Criminal] court order to confiscate my phone was sought around 10pm,” Shauna told local media. “The court order’s date was stated as July 7, but I was arrested on July 13.”

MPS attempted to return her mobile after she filed the Civil Court case, however Shauna refused to accept the phone until the court issues its verdict.

“I said I will accept the phone only after the court makes a decision on the matter,” Shauna said.

“Moreover, only through the trial I came to know that the police are trying to place terrorism charges against me. But I was arrested on charges of obstruction of police duty,” she added.

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Two Bangladeshis caught naked, arrested for alleged prostitution

Two people allegedly engaged in prostitution were arrested yesterday (June 3), reports local media.

The 19 year-old male and 25 year-old female Bangladeshi nationals were caught naked, police told local media.

After a supposed tip-off the individuals were arrested at approximately 1:30pm in Male’s Heinveiru ward from Kandufinige house, located opposite the Shaheed Ali Mosque.

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