Police summon DRP MPs for questioning over parliamentary brawl

Police yesterday summoned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Vice president and MP Ali Waheed, DRP Vice president and MP Ahmed Ilham and DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof to police headquarters for questioning regarding last week’s brawl in parliament.

Waheed told the press that he assumed the police had summoned him in order to congratulate him on the no-confidence vote against Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem.

He said that the police questioned him about several cases, ”including a gathering near the president’s official residence, Muleeage, and about the brawl in parliament. They put the blame on us for everything happening in Male’,” Waheed said.

He claimed the questioning was a result of President Mohamed Nasheed “trying to stop us from making the government more responsible.”

”He thinks we will be afraid and back off,” he said, ”but that encourages us more.”

He said it was the DRP MPs who should have summoned the police, and questioned why they were taken into police custody on Thursday night.

”The government is planning to stop our activities and threaten us,” he said.

Ilham and Mahlouf told the press they chose to remain silent.

Press secretary for the president Mohamed Zuhair said the government had no role in the police questioning or arrest of DRP MPs, and that anyone disturbing the peace of country could expect to be arrested.

”Police will arrest them if they see them indulging in violent activity,” Zuhair said. “They were throwing rocks and chairs at a peaceful religious gathering. It’s like throwing stones at a mosque – police can’t simply ignore the matter because the throwers are MPs.”

Zuhair said he wished to repeat a quote made by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom: ”No one is above the law”, and noted that the MPs were not arrested by ”temporarily kept in police custody.”

”The police will forward all the cases to the Prosecutor General when they have enough evidence,” he said.

”They are blaming president Nasheed just to gain political support, but the public won’t be fooled.”

Police Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the police was not just summoning the DRP MPs.

”We are investigating a case presented to us by the parliament,” Shiyam said. ”There are many independent MPs and MDP MPs to be brought for questioning.”

He said the details could not be given as police were currently investigating the case.


Parliament accepts drug bill

Parliament yesterday accepted a drug bill that will lead to greater sophistication in the country’s treatment of drug crimes.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair explained the bill would dramatically affect many drug cases, distinguishing between ‘soft drugs’ and ‘hard drugs’. and detailing punishments for dealers and users.

“[It proposes] a special court for drug cases,” he said, noting that the government discussed the bill with the Islamic Ministry before presenting to the parliament.

Maldivian Democratic Party MDP MP Ahmed Easa said the bill was “remarkable” and that the government deserved to be praised.

”The bill was designed based on the experience the country has had during the past years, after discussion with concerned departments and NGOs,” Easa said.

One of the most significant points in the bill, Easa said, was the protection for witnesses to drug cases.

Easa also said that while the bill included rehabilitation for drug abusers, “the punishment for dealers is very strict.”

”There would be a Rf50000 (US$3850) to Rf5000000 (US$385,000) fine and a prison sentence of 5-15 years, as well as confiscation of the offender’s properties by the government.”

He said according to the bill a drug court would be built where all the drug cases would be heard, “with a special team appointed to identify drugs and their level.”

He said if the bill was approved, “all the doors for drugs would be closed.”

DRP MP Waheed said there were amendments to be made to the drug bill, but said would not like to go into details at this time.