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.


Former JSC member ‘Reynis’ Saleem commissioned Afrasheem murder suspect for extortion: police

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s dismissed representative on the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Mohamed ‘Reynis’ Saleem, commissioned Azleef Rauf, a suspect in the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, to retrieve money owed to him, a police investigation has found.

Police revealed the case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) on June 26, with charges of extortion, theft and damaging private property raised against Saleem, Rauf and three others.

The other suspects were identified as Mohamed Hamid, 26, of Irak in Seenu Meedhoo; Abdulla Saeed, 29, of Autumn Vaadhy in Haa Alif Dhidhoo; and Abdulla Hunaish, 42, of Galolhu Moonlight View in Male’.

The five men are accused of “intimidating and threatening two people over the course of several days saying they owed money, robbing them of their belongings, forcibly taking them places and damaging their property”.

Moreover, the group stole a motorcycle belonging to the victims “to [keep] until they paid”, assaulted the pair, and threatened them at their workplace after forcing their way in and damaging items in their office, according to police.

‘Reynis’ Saleem was sacked from his post at the JSC by President Waheed on June 18 following unsuccessful attempts by police to take the criminal defence lawyer into custody.

The Criminal Court reportedly refused to grant police an arrest warrant earlier this month, a decision backed upon appeal by the High Court.

Saleem was the defence counsel of Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim in criminal cases involving an alleged scam to defraud the now-defunct Ministry of Atolls Development.

The cases were dismissed by the Criminal Court shortly after the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.

Saleem was sacked by President Waheed a day after the Civil Court issued a court order freezing the bank accounts and holding the passport of Dr Waheed’s running mate and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

The court order was issued in a case filed by Deputy Speaker Nazim seeking enforcement of a Civil Court verdict in April 2011 –  upheld by the High Court in April 2013 – ordering the recently appointed running mate to settle an unpaid debt of MVR 1.92 million (US$124,513).

The move followed increasingly fractious relations between Nazim’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the coalition of four parties backing Dr Waheed’s bid for the presidency.

Meanwhile, after he was summoned for questioning by police in May, Saleem denied the allegations of commissioning gangs for extortion.

“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 chief 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”.

After initially denying that he murdered the moderate religious scholar and PPM MP, Humam confessed to the crime at a court hearing in May.

According to a previous statement given by Human at a pre-trial detention hearing on December 7, 2012, which was read out by the state prosecutor at court, Human was enlisted by Azleef Rauf to commit the murder.

Human however retracted his confession at the next trial date on June 2, claiming his previous statement was obtained by police through coercion.

Rauf was meanwhile dismissed from the army earlier this month following his arrest in May.

On May 28, the Criminal Court extended Rauf’s detention period while local media reported that he was arrested on charges of mugging.


Police arrest GIP council member Ahmed Faiz in Supreme Court Justice sex tape scandal

A council member of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry, Ahmed Faiz, has been arrested and placed under remand detention for 15 days, police have confirmed.

According to local media reports, the former Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Managing Director and Deputy CEO of the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) was arrested on Tuesday while trying to sell a sex tape of a Supreme Court Justice.

The Criminal Court on Wednesday afternoon (June 26) granted an extension of 15 days for Faiz’s detention.

A police media official told Minivan News that police could not divulge further details apart from confirming that Faiz was “arrested in connection with a case currently under investigation.”

While local media reports did not identify the judge involved in the case, photos of Supreme Justice Ali Hameed in a hotel room with a woman began circulating on social media in March this year.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News today that Faiz has been sacked from his project advisor post at the Housing Ministry, to which he was appointed at the deputy minister-level in March 2012.

Masood Imad also confirmed that Faiz is a member of GIP’s executive council.

Faiz was also the GIP representative at press conferences of the unofficial “December 23 coalition” of eight political parties that organised a mass gathering in 2011 against the allegedly anti-Islamic policies of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Faiz was present at a press event of the December 23 alliance on January 8, 2012 where the group announced plans for a “mass symposium” for February 24, 2012. He was also present when opposition leaders met then-Vice President Dr Waheed in his official residence at 1:00am on January 31 – seven days before the controversial transfer of presidential power – and pledged their allegiance to the vice-president.

Faiz participated in the press conference later that night when opposition party leaders called on the police and army to pledge allegiance to Dr Waheed and “not carry out any orders given by President Nasheed.”

In August 2012, an audio clip of Faiz in conversation with a group of unidentified men was aired on opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV after it was leaked on social media.

Faiz told Minivan News at the time that the clip was authentic and recorded in March 2012 but claimed that it was cut and edited together.

In the 15-minute audio, Faiz boasts of his influence within the government as a “close confidante” of President Waheed and attempts to hire the men to disrupt activities of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Faiz claimed in the leaked audio that he was in a position to embezzle large amounts of money from MBC and the State Trading Organisation (STO).

He also spoke of President Waheed’s reluctance to remain allied with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and of plans to “take Maumoon out of the political picture.”

The truth is that there is quite a lot of support for Maumoon too, and we have to accept that. If a political gathering is to be held in this country, at this moment it’s only PPM or MDP that can gather a good amount of people. No one else can do it, ok? This is the political reality of now,” Faiz is heard saying.

GIP Faiz“We are not at all aiming to keep them close to us. The real objective is to destroy this… thing… that Maumoon has. This cannot be done by even Anni, or by anyone else in this country, unless we stay within them, and let them into the government. There is simply no other way. Now I’ve gone and said something I was not meaning to share! I have just shared with you a huge secret.”

Faiz also claimed in the leaked conversation that he was “the biggest key” for the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.

All that was done, all the deals that were made, all that was done, all the people that we met with, within defense, even within police; nothing would have taken place without my knowledge, without my participation,” he is heard saying in a second clip.

“If this is a coup government and there is a death sentence given out, I will be among the first to be sentenced to death. So what even I want is money, do you understand? I’m telling you the truth, it is to gain money that I have come into this.”

First audio clip

Second audio clip