Suspect in Afrasheem murder case transferred to house arrest

The Criminal Court has reportedly transferred Azleef Rauf, a former Maldives National Defence Force officer suspected of involvement in the murder of MP Afrasheem Ali in October 2012, to house arrest.

In May this year, Rauf was detained on charges of terrorism, extortion, and involvement in criminal gang activities, after which the court extended his remand detention.

While a case against Rauf over alleged involvement in the murder of the moderate religious scholar was sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office in September, the case has yet to be filed at court.

Rauf is also facing separate charges of extortion, theft, and damaging public property along with former Judicial Service Commission member Mohamed ‘Reynis’ Saleem.


Court extends detention of MNDF officer accused of planning Dr Afrasheem’s murder

The Criminal Court has extended the detention period of Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) officer Azleef Rauf who was accused of planning the murder of Dr Afasheem Ali by Hussein Humam, the main suspect charged in the murder case.

Criminal Court Media Official Ahmed Mohamed Manik confirmed that Azleef’s pretrial detention period was extended yesterday (May 28).

‘‘He was brought before the judges last night,’’ he added.

Manik said police had charged Azleef with terrorism, intimidation, involvement in gang activities, participation in gang activities and conspiring to conduct criminal gang activities.

On May 22 Humam, the chief suspect arrested and charged in connection with the murder of Dr Afrasheem, said the idea of killing Dr Afrasheem was given to him by Azleef Rauf, who he met at a baibalaa tournament held in 2012.

Baibalaa is a sport played by young men in the Maldives in a sandy ring, requiring speed and agility.

Humam said during the tournament Azleef and that night sent him to pick up a kilogram of drugs from the airport that were smuggled in to the country by a Pakistani man. He said he dropped the drugs off to the house where a person he identified as ‘Mukkar’ lived.

According to a  statement read out in court on Humam’s behalf, he was invited to coffee with Azleef, Javid and his brother ‘Jana’, during which Azleef allegedly said “I promise you will get MVR4 million if you murder Dr Afrasheem,” to which Javid’s brother ‘Jana’ replied “yes you will.”

Rauf and Javid were also previously detained by police over their alleged involvement in the case. Both were later released by the court.

Javid spent 45 days in detention in connection to the Afrasheem murder, after which time his lawyer argued his continued detention was unconstitutional given there was no evidence to support keeping him in custody.

On the day of Javid’s release (January 17), his brother Shahin Mohamed was arrested by police while he was waiting with the rest of Javid’s family outside the court. Mohamed was released from police custody three hours after he was detained.

An MDP activist Mariyam Naifa was also arrested several days following the murder, and was subsequently released. Her lawyer at the time said she was arrested in connection to intelligence received by police in the Afrasheem case.

Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali has since confirmed to the media that the passports of Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid, Adam ‘Spy’ Solah and Shahin Mohamed had been held in compliance with a request from police.


Police summon JSC member over gang link allegations

Police have summoned the president’s appointed member to the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Mohamed ‘Reynis’ Saleem, for questioning regarding allegations he commissioned gang activities.

Saleem reported to police headquarters in Male’ yesterday (May 25) to answer questions related to an ongoing police investigation.

He has been accused of “exploiting a gang to commit crimes, including mugging,” according to local media. Saleem allegedly enlisted a gang to recover money owed to him.

The case under investigation is not related to the Dr Afrasheem Ali murder, a police media official told Minivan News today (May 26).

“As the investigation is ongoing, I am not able to provide any further details. We are facing difficulties now,” the official said.

The police do not have any plans to arrest Saleem or forward charges to the Prosecutor General’s Office at this time.

Meanwhile, Saleem has refuted the allegations, claiming he has no links to gang members, or anyone affiliated with gangs, and he did not enlist gangs to conduct criminal activities.

“The first thing I want to make clear is that I don’t have any links with gangs, or links with any person connected with gangs,” Saleem told local media.

“The question the police asked was whether I had sent a group to collect some money owed to me by someone. I said that I never sent any group to collect any money for me. So if someone owed me money, I would go to court. I shouldn’t have to involve a group,” explained Saleem.

Saleem also denied allegations he had links to the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer Azleef Rauf, who was accused of planning the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali by suspect Hussein Humam, and was subsequently arrested on May 23.

“A serious question is being raised, about a person named Azleef. When I read the papers today, there were reports about a person named Azleef. Right now is a very critical moment, and they have associated my name with his name. I don’t want any newspaper writing in this manner,” said Saleem.

Saleem claimed that his police summons was politically motivated and related to his current JSC responsibilities, but that he would “disclose details [about the allegation] when the right time comes.”

“It’s a personal issue”: JSC

“We believe the issue is unrelated to the JSC or JSC work,” JSC Secretary General Aboobakuru Mohamed told Minivan News today.

“It is a personal issue [of Saleem’s] and the commission is not going to do anything or comment,” said Mohamed.

“We don’t appoint members, the President or Majlis (parliament) does, and should take up the matter,” he added.

Former President’s Member on the JSC Aishath Velezinee told Minivan News that JSC members under police investigation should not participate in the commission while this was ongoing.

“When any JSC member is being investigated they should not be participating in the commission. It reflects on the commission and the status of the judiciary,” she said.

“The JSC should be above criticism. How can the public trust judges if JSC members are under question?” she asked.

“Saleem should refrain from participating in the JSC voluntarily, that would be the best course of action,” she added.

Velezinee explained that because “Maldivians do not think like that,” parliament should suspend Saleem from the JSC until the investigation is complete, as was the course of action taken with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) President Mohamed Fahmy.

“Parliament should put Saleem on leave, not as a punishment but until the investigation is over,” stated Velezinee.

“It doesn’t matter who it is, [allegations of] involvement in serious crime require a full investigation by the police,” she noted.

She further detailed that the appropriate course of action requires police to inform the Prosecutor General, who should then inform Parliament so they can take action.

“I welcome the police to investigate, although the police are not without question themselves,” said Velezinee.

“The government itself is in question, anything that happens at this moment will be politicised,” she added.

President’s Office Spokespersons Masood Imad and Mohamed Thaufeeq, as well as Parliament Speaker MP Abdulla Shahid were not responding to calls at time of press.