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”.