Two arrested with 16 alcohol bottles in Male’

Two men have been arrested after police received a “tip off” on Sunday (May 12) that they were in possession of 16 bottles of alcohol, reports local media.

The 32 year-old Maldivian and 44 year-old Bangladeshi were arrested around 7:17pm while on a speedboat near the public swimming track in Male’.

The alcohol seized by police included 12 Absolute Vodka bottles, one King Robert vodka bottle, one Russian Standard vodka bottle, and two Irish Jameson whiskey bottles.

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Police deny arresting 50 Addu City residents prior to president’s visit

The Maldives’ Police Service has denied arresting approximately 50 people – primarily Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters – the night prior to President Mohamed Waheed’s arrival in Addu City yesterday (May 8).

President Waheed visited Addu to inaugurated the Hulhumeedhoo road development project,  open the Hulhudhoo pharmacy and inaugurate higher secondary education at Seenu Atoll School, according to the President’s Office.

During the ceremony for the former Dr Waheed “highlighted the importance of developing roads on the bigger islands for the development of the atoll. In this regard, the President said the government’s aim was to complete such developmental endeavors without any interruptions.”

Addu City Mayor Abdulla Sodig told Minivan News the night before Waheed’s arrival close to 50 people were arrested, “and about 90 percent of those taken in were MDP supporters”.

“The police knew who had been actively engaged in [MDP] demonstrations and targeted those individuals. Those who were arrested were having coffee in restaurants, standing having a chat outside, others were stopped at vehicle checkpoints. They were arrested for allegedly being ‘a member of a gang’,” he added.

A few of the individuals arrested were released after one or two hours, according to Sodig.

“People know this game because it was the game [former President Maumoon] Gayoom played. They know they were arrested because of Waheed’s visit,” Sodig said.

“Police probably purposefully did this negative campaign. But Waheed’s game has backfired. Families of the arrested individuals are really angry and frustrated,” he added.

As part of an ongoing police operation in Addu to “keep the peace”, “lots of people were taken into custody and were released after their information was collected”, the Police Media Official who spoke with Minivan News today (May 9) initially stated.

The official then refuted the statement, claiming that only one person was arrested in Addu City on May 7.

The official confirmed that being “arrested” and “taken into custody” have the “same meaning”.

However, a police media official told local media outlet CNM that “people assembled in groups and other suspects were taken in for questioning last night. He said that they were all released except for one who is being held for issuing a death threat to a policeman.”

Mayor Sodig explained that the Addu City Council was not notified about this ‘special operation’.

“Normally the commander(s) visit and explain the details when a special operation is going to take place,” Sodig said. “During last week’s fortnightly meeting [with the council] the police did not mention such an operation was planned.”

“The [city] council is gravely concerned by these developments,” Sodig told local media.

Approximately 30 were arrested from Hithadhoo Island, more than 10 from Feydhoo Island and around 10 from Maradhoo Island, all part of Addu City’s administrative district, according to local media.

These arrests were made under the “’Our Peaceful Addu City” operation, which has been continued by the police services to make the atoll “crime free”.

Police ‘star force’ out of control

“Addu City has the largest population outside of Male’ [approximately 35,000 people], as well as a very large land area, and so much is happening now,” Sodig explained. “We have to have a police presence not only in namesake or to run the desks, but enough to oversee the whole area.”

“Usually there are 15 to 20 police officers in each of the three stations in the area, however this is not enough, so we requested the police provide extra strength to increase numbers to about 30 per station,” he continued.

“The special operations team [responded by] sending their ‘star force’, but they don’t have their commander here. He’s not in control of this group or operations. Instead they are directly overseen by Male’ command,” said Sodig.

“That’s the reason why we don’t want them to continue,” he declared.

The task force consisting of 50 special operations police was started in January 17, 2013 and was supposed to end April 17, according to Sodig. However, the entire special operations force has remained in Addu City, targeting those allegedly involved in drug and gang issues.

“Dream on Waheed”: Sodig

During Waheed’s visit to Addu City, he stated that the Maldives not only has two ideologies – Islamic and anti-Islamic – but a third “ideology of unity” which was evident in Addu City.

He made the remarks after seeing a “Unity Jagaha” (campaign office) on Hulhumeedhoo Island in Addu, according to local media.

Last month President of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and former president, Maumoon Gayoom, claimed the Maldives was now dominated by people belonging to the “Islamic” ideology and those belonging to the “anti-Islamic” ideology.

Waheed also said that prior to his visit to Addu, “he had received information that a certain group was ‘very strong’ in Addu City, however, his team received greater support than he had expected.”

Waheed was informed that MDP support in Addu was very strong, but that’s not what he has seen, according to Mayor Sodig.

“Dream on Waheed,” Sodig declared. “He doesn’t have much support here, it is not close to [former President Mohamed] Nasheed, Maumoon, or [Abdulla] Yameen supporters.”

Sodig explained that paid government employees were ordered to receive Waheed at the airport, which is abnormal.

“This is the game Mamoon played during his [30 year] term,” said Sodig. “During Nasheed’s government this kind of thing never happened.”

“There were only 100 or 200 people to receive Waheed. There were some supporters from his united coalition with Adhaalath Party (AP) and Yameen supporters. However, people from all government agencies in the area, all paid staff, were told to receive him,” Sodig said.

“This includes senior government officials, senior civil servants – informed by the Civil Service Commission, all the schools’ senior management and non-teaching staff – issued a letter from the Education Ministry, southern utilities company staff, as well as airport and customs staff,” he claimed.

According to Sodig, currently 70 percent of Addu City’s electoral ‘dhaaira’ (constituency) are MDP supporters, and the party is close to reaching their goal of signing 80 percent of the population.

“At the moment, [we know] from door to door campaigning, MDP has more than a 60 to 70 percent support base, while 20 to 30 percent of the population is undecided,” said Sodig.

“In my area we only need 200 or 300 extra votes to reach that target [of 80 percent]. It’s achievable for sure,” he added.

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Police arrest man accused of breaking into Male’ home and assaulting occupants

Police have arrested a man accused of breaking into to a house in Male’ earlier this month and assaulting two individuals sleeping inside, local media reported.

Ihsaanuddin Rasheed, 30, of G.Masodige had been sought by police in relation to the incident, before he was caught hiding in another house on Tuesday night (March 26).

A search was launched by police earlier this week after Rasheed was suspected of breaking into a Male’ home at around 3:30am on March 13.

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Maldivian journalist arrested by police for taking photos

Police have arrested a Maldivian journalist while he was taking photographs outside the justice building on Tuesday morning (March 26).

SunMV journalist, Ahmed Azif, was taken into police custody after contesting claims by police that he could not take photographs without displaying press identification, local media reported.

Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) have since condemned the arrest of the journalist, calling for all parties to refrain from actions that might hinder freedom of the press.

A statement from MJA reads: “While it is not prohibited to take photographs near the justice building by a journalist or anyone else, arresting a journalist for taking pictures in the area is a deliberate act to instigate fear among journalists.”

SunMV has claimed that Azif had been picked out by police from a number of journalists standing outside the justice building.

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Require a system to take witness testimonies quicker: Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has said authorities require a mechanism to take witness testimonies before they can be intimidated or influenced.

Local media reported that Riyaz expressed “concern” over the way all suspects in the murder case of Ali  Shifan had been acquitted.

The Police Commission claimed that many witnesses were too afraid to testify in high profile cases, adding that there needs to be mechanism to process witness statements quicker.

“Such things happen. This is something we must accept. In other countries there are various mechanisms in place to ensure witness protection.

“We already have such a law. There is a witness protection Act. We have been informed that a draft of such an Act is already at the Parliament. I hope it becomes a law soon,” Riyaz was quoted as saying in local media.

According to Riyaz witnesses change their statements in court because their influenced financially and through intimidation.

Last week, the Criminal Court ruled that all six suspects arrested in connection with the stabbing murder of Ali Shifan are innocent and ordered their release.

The judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict, reported local media, despite the DNA of the victim being found under the fingernail of one of the suspects.

The judge said that although the state had produced five witnesses to the court, their statements to police were contradictory.

The judge cited a Supreme Court ruling stating that when dealing with murder cases, a suspect could only be convicted if there was enough evidence to believe he was guilty beyond any doubt, and said the state was not able to convince the court that they were guilty.

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Two men arrested playing football during President’s visit to Kan’ditheemu

Two men were arrested while playing football on Kan’ditheemu island in Shaviyani Atoll during President Dr Waheed Hassan Manik’s visit on January 26, one of whom remains in police custody.

Police Spokesperson Hassan Haneef confirmed to Minivan News that “one person from Kan’ditheemu island in Shaviyani Atoll has been arrested for obstructing police duty and is being held [in the regional capital] Funadhoo for 10 days.”

A source with knowledge of the police investigation confirmed two men had initially been taken into police custody, however one was released without charge.

“The police are responsible for security issues and made a decision based on the rule of law,” Kan’ditheemu Island Council President Nasrullah told Minivan News.

Multiple witnesses from Kan’ditheemu claim that Ahmed “Aabe” Agil was “forcefully” arrested, despite not breaking any laws or causing any disturbance.

Hussain Naushaad, a 19 year-old football player, was also arrested and held in police custody for two hours on Kan’ditheemu. He was released upon Waheed’s departure.

Approximately 30 minutes prior to Agil’s arrest, around 25 youth primarily consisting of students were “warming up” for the daily afternoon football match, on the pitch across the road from Shaviyani Atoll School. The footballers were passing balls back and forth on the main road of Bodu Magu, sources stated.

At the same time, Waheed was headed towards the school, but had not yet arrived.

Naushaad claimed he accidentally kicked the football into the school wall twice.

“A police officer from Funadhoo came and said ‘don’t hit the wall again’. The officer waited some time and then left, so we kept practicing.

“I passed the ball again and it hit the wall, which is when the police officer came and arrested me,” Naushaad explained.

A witness told Minivan News that when Naushaad was arrested many of the players commented to police that “this is not good” and “this is not the way you have to act”.

During the football match that took place immediately following Naushaad’s arrest, two footballs were inadvertently kicked over the fence and into the road. The police then confiscated these balls, according to witnesses.

“If play is prohibited then you must say that before we start. The police came and took two balls that went on the road but never said to stop playing,” sources explained.

According to one witness, Agil told the police “even if you take those balls, we can still keep playing.”

“The police don’t have a legitimate answer [for why he was arrested]. The real problem is that he talked back to the police,” the witness added.

“Most of those playing were students and everyone was shouting ‘baghee’ [traitor], but not directly to any officers in particular,” a witness said.

According to another witness, police believed Agil was “purposefully causing a disturbance and they suddenly ran onto the field and arrested him.”

“He was not resisting arrest or speaking, but the police still took him forcefully. There was no need for that,” another witness said.

“They took him because they are [Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party] bagees and they wanted to arrest him,” yet another witness remarked.

The sentiment was echoed by a further witness: “this is baghee nonsense,” he said.

Agil was arrested in his football practice gear and was not permitted to take a change of clothes, nor did the police inform his wife as to why he was being arrested or how long he would be in police custody, according to a source close to Agil’s wife.

The source added that Agil was being held on Funadhoo and has been permitted to call his wife once a day under strict supervision. He was periodically being taken to the court on a nearby island, because there is no magistrate present to preside over the Funadhoo court.

Agil was initially being held for five days, however this was later extended to 10 days.

Police provoking political polarisation

“This is a sad issue. Aabe is a very, very important youth member of our community. I do not want or like to see anyone arrested,” said the Island Council President, Nasrullah.

A source on Kan’ditheemu alleged the island council keeps a list of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists for police, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and DRP members to “concentrate on”.

The same source claimed that DRP and PPM members are threatening MDP supporters living on Kan’ditheemu, particularly those not originally from the island.

“They are making problems and saying that if those people are supporting the MDP, they will come against them. The day after Waheed’s visit, MDP members had their property destroyed. Motorcycle seats and hanging laundry were slashed with a knife,” the source added.

Asked about these allegations Nasrullah stated, “The 100 percent truth: there is no list of MDP members being targeted, the island council is not supporting this.

“Inappropriate graffiti was also put on an island council member’s wall. We want people to come and visit our island, there will be no one kicked off Kan’ditheemu. No one at the island council level has agreed to such things,” he added.

A source close to the island council stated that youth on the island were just angry about the arrest and were spreading rumours.

“President Waheed’s trip was successful, but sad things have happened because of it. I’m very sorry, deep in my heart I cried,” the source added.

While visiting Kan’ditheemu, President Waheed “expressed [his] appreciation of the unity of the people of Kan’ditheemu in working towards the development of the island, steering clear of any differences.”

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Indian national caught with drug-filled suitcase

Indian national Lata Kumari Govindaran, 46, has been arrested for possession of 1.05 kg of cannabis.

Govindaran arrived in the Maldives last Wednesday with the drug hidden in her suitcase’s double bottom, reports Haveeru. She had also visited the Maldives last Ramadan.

Customs told Haveeru that Govindaran had been arrested on suspicion of drug possession during a security check and screening upon arriving in the country.

Govindaran traveled alone and no one else has been arrested.

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Police arrest man with illegal drugs

A man was apprehended by police yesterday afternoon for being allegedly involved in selling and using illegal drugs.

The man was caught by Seenu, Gan police with seven packets of illegal drugs while he was waiting near Maradhoo Harbour waiting for his motorcycle. Police were searching for two people reported to have gone to Maradhoo to sell drugs.

Police found Rf12,945 in cash in the man’s pocket as well as the packets of drugs.

Police in Gan, along with the Drug Enforcement Department of Maldives Police Service are investigating the case.

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Customs make largest drug bust of 2009

Maldives Customs Service has intercepted over five kilograms of the drug ketamine at Male’ International Airport in the country’s largest drug bust this year.

Director of Intelligence and Special Operations Abdul Rasheed Ibrahim said the drugs were found in the luggage of an Indian national, Abdullrasulhan Abdulmukthalif, concealed inside a cardboard box with a hidden compartment.

Customs officers noticed irregularities when they scanned the box, and discovered 29 packets of suspected narcotics, carefully wrapped in polythene.

Lab tests confirmed the substance as 5.09kg of ketamine with trace amounts of cocaine, Ibrahim said, the first recorded case of ketamine being illegally brought into the country.

Ketamine is commonly used as a dissociative anesthetic in both humans and animals. Although a regulated drug, it is widely used as an illegal recreational narcotic.

Abdulmukthalif was travelling on Sri Lankan flight UL507 travelled to Male’ on the 15 December from Chennai via Trivandrum and Colombo.

Customs officers said Abdulmukthalif’s itinerary revealed that his final destination was Jakarta, a trip he had made four separate times, and each time he allegedly took a cardboard box on behalf of a friend from Chennai.

Ibrahim said although the street value of the drugs was Rf 6.5 million, he did believe the final destination of the drugs was the Maldives.

This was the 12th incident of illegal narcotics transportation this year discovered by customs officials, he said, adding that the total seized now stood at 12.56 kilograms (a combined street value of Rf 11 million).

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