Police mistakenly release picture of college student in drug suspect case

The Maldives Police Service has apologised to a 23 year-old female college student after she was wrongfully identified and pictured in the media as a suspect in a drug investigation.

Police released the picture of Aishath Hanaa of G Shady Ground on Wednesday night, after identifying her as a suspect in a case involving narcotics and money seized from a house in capital Male’ following a police raid.

However, the real suspect arrested was actually Aishath Hanaa,22, from M Fanari – a woman who shared the same name.

In a statement released on Sunday, police apologised for the incident, claiming that the innocent woman’s picture was sent out by “mistake” as both she and the actual suspect shared the same name.

Police further confirmed that the “woman in the first photo released by the police is a college student and did not have any police record”.

According to the statement, police accepted complaints from the woman’s family, who are reported to be “outraged” over the release of wrong photo.

Hanaa’s mother told Minivan News that the family was “deeply shocked” when Hanaa’s photo was published by several media outlets, painting her as a prime suspect in a drug case.

“My daughter was at the class when I first heard the news. I called her phone and she disconnected it. I was really scared and thought what if she had actually been arrested. But I called the police and found out from them that the photo was a mistake. I was outraged but relieved that it was not my daughter,” she said. “Now I am afraid of what people may think of my family and children.”

Although the police service has now publicly apologised for the error, she said that the family is discussing filing a defamation suit against the police as “their mistake has brought irreparable damage to Hanaa and her family’s reputation”.