Government to compensate police officers for damages on February 8 unrest

The government will compensate police officers for damages incurred during nationwide unrest on February 8, 2012, Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed has announced.

According to police media, Waheed gave information concerning the planned compensation to senior officers at a meeting of the police management board today.

Waheed said individual police officers stationed across the country have yet to be compensated for physical harm and damage to personal property during the February 8 civil unrest.

“However, the commissioner of police said the government has now decided to arrange compensation very soon for police officers who suffered damages that day,” police said.

On February 8, thousands of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters led by former President Mohamed Nasheed took to the streets of the capital in protest against a “coup d’etat” they alleged was perpetrated by mutinous elements of the police and military the previous day.

A brutal crackdown on the protest march in Malé sparked riots across the country, which saw police vehicles, courts and police stations torched in Thinadhoo and Addu City. Police officers were forced off several other islands.

Following an investigation, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) concluded that the heavy-handed police crackdown on the MDP walk was “brutal” and “without warning” while the “disproportionate” use of force left dozens of demonstrators injured and hospitalised.

 

cars on fireMore than 160 people from the southern atolls are currently facing terrorism charges for the acts of arson.

In addition to police motorbikes, police said today that phones, laptops, valuables, and other personal belongings such as clothes were also set on fire and completely destroyed during the unrest.

Several police officers were left with only the clothes they were wearing, police said.

Last month, the government decided to reinstate a discontinued service and merit allowance for both police and military personnel.

The allowances were discontinued in 2009 during former President Nasheed’s administration.

Security services personnel who have served between ten and 20 years were eligible for the service allowance, while policemen and army officers who have attained higher education were to be eligible for a professional allowance.

A similar allowance was to be given to officials who have undergone training related to their fields.

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Court cancels hearing of suspects charged with terrorist attack on Gan police station

The Criminal Court has today cancelled scheduled hearings into the case against suspects charged with an arson attack on Addu City Gan Police Station on February 8, 2012.

The hearing was cancelled as the Prosecutor General’s Office was unable to summon the witnesses to court.

The suspects have been identified by the court as Ahmed Rasheed of Beachflat house in Maradhoo, Ali Rimaz of Liverpool house in Maradhoo, Hussein Zuhair of Heaven in Hithadhoo and Hassan Naeem of Sunshine in Hithadhoo.

In August 2012, terrorism charges were laid against over 40 individuals accused of setting the Seenu Gan police station on fire, including Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed and Addu City Councillor Ahmed Mirzadh.

On 10 November 2014, eight police officers testified at the Criminal Court against the accused.

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MP’s police brutality hearing cancelled due to defendant’s absence

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Today’s hearing into the alleged assault of Mahchangolhi Uthuru MP Mariya Didi has been cancelled after the defendant’s failure to attend court.

Police officer Ibrahim Faisal is accused of assaulting the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP during the demonstration held on February 8, 2012, following the controversial change of power on February 7.

The MDP maintains the transfer of power to was an illegal, with the resignation of former President Nasheed having come under duress.

The hearing was cancelled today (October 12) when the accused failed to attend despite having received a summons sent to police headquarters.

The Criminal Court has rescheduled the hearing to be held on October 19. Mariya Didi confirmed to Minivan News that she has received summons from the Criminal Court to be present at the newly scheduled hearing.

Faisal has previously denied the charges against him, although another police officer has given a witness statement supporting the assault claims against Faisal.

Following the cancellation of today’s hearing, Mariya Didi held a press conference during which she expressed concern that the accused is allowed to continue working without suspension despite the serious charges lodged against him.

She said that she was worried about her safety after having appeared in court to testify against the officer.

“The man that the prosecutor general is prosecuting with evidence still remains in his position at work. And as I saw on that day, it was not just one individual police officer who assaulted me,” Mariya told the press.

“On both February 7 and 8 they attacked me as a group. Based on this, I am worried about the fact that he [Faisal] gets to stay on in his job,” she added.

Previous investigations into the events of February 8 by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives stated that the police crackdown of MDP supporters marching on February 8 was “brutal” and “without prior warning”.

An HRCM team visiting the MP while in detention after the February 8 march observed “bruises all over [Mariya’s] body and her eyes bloodied and swollen”.

In its concluding observations, the commission concluded that police officers “acted very harshly” towards the politicians “in ways that could cause physical and psychological harm” despite their having been no resistance on the part of the politicians.

Amnesty International also documented the assaults on both Mariya and fellow MDP MP Eva Abdulla in its September 2012 report titled, ‘The Other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives’.

The Criminal Court is also separately looking into a case of alleged brutality on MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik by police officer Mohamed Waheed of RosyVilla in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Thinadhoo.

In 2013, Amnesty released a statement saying that failure to prosecute police officers accused of human rights abuses and serious failings in the justice system entrenched impunity.

Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry – established by then President Mohamed Waheed to investigate the transfer of power – had taken note of “allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation”, calling for “investigations to proceed and to be brought to public knowledge with perpetrators held to account”.

Speaking in parliament on August 6, Attorney General Mohamed Anil stated that five cases involving four police officers accused of committing acts of brutality in February 2012 were ongoing at the Criminal Court.

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Terrorism trials begin for over 80 individuals from Thinadhoo

Terrorism trials began at the Criminal Court yesterday for 81 individuals from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaal atoll accused of setting fire to the island’s police station and court on February 8, 2012.

According to local media, out of 89 individuals facing terrorism charges, 81 were summoned to the court yesterday, all of whom pleaded not guilty. The accused were offered an opportunity to appoint defence lawyers.

The trials began at 10:00am and lasted until 5:30pm as consecutive hearings were held for small groups of defendants. The terrorism trials posed difficulties for other hearings at the court as such a large group of people were summoned on the same day.

The 89 individuals were charged under Article 2 and 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Ali Waheed met a number of the defendants at the party’s office prior to the hearings yesterday.

On February 8, 2012, riots spread across the country following a brutal crackdown on an MDP march in the capital in protest of the controversial transfer of presidential power the day before.

In a press release issued on September 18 after the hearings were scheduled, the MDP contended that the trials against dozens of the party’s members and supporters in Addu City and Thinadhoo were politically-motivated acts of intimidation.

The party also accused the government of threatening to prosecute persons who participate in MDP activities.

The press statement also noted that police officers who committed crimes on February 6, 7 and 8 were not being prosecuted.

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Terrorism trials on February 8 arson in Addu City postponed

The trial of 35 people from Addu City charged with terrorism over arson attacks in Addu City on February 8, 2012 resumed at the Criminal Court yesterday after a hiatus of over a year.

Of the 35 individuals charged with setting fire to the Gan police station in the aftermath of the transfer of presidential power, only three were summoned to the court.

The trial was reportedly postponed because the defence lawyers were not provided documents related to the case.

The court has said it was facing difficulties summoning defendants from the southernmost atoll as well as housing and feeding the accused. Under the Judicature Act, terrorism trials must be conducted at the Criminal Court in Malé.

More than 80 people from Addu City are facing terrorism charges for acts of arson on February 8, which saw police vehicles, courts and police stations torched. Riots spread across the country following a brutal crackdown on an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) march in the capital.

In a press release issued on September 18 after the hearings were scheduled, the MDP contended that the trials against dozens of the party’s members and supporters in Addu City and Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo were politically-motivated acts of intimidation.

The party also accused the government of threatening to prosecute persons who participate in MDP activities.

The press statement also noted that police officers who committed crimes on February 6, 7 and 8 were not being prosecuted.

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Four minors acquitted of terrorism charges

Four minors from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaalu atoll charged with terrorism over arson attacks on February 8, 2012 were acquitted by the Juvenile Court today.

The minors were accused of setting fire to the Thinadhoo police station during protests that erupted across the country in the wake of a brutal police crackdown on a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) march in the capital Malé.

MDP supporters took to the streets after former President Mohamed Nasheed declared that his resignation the previous day was “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinous elements of the security forces in collusion with the then-opposition.

A Juvenile Court official told local media today that the minors were found not guilty as the prosecution was unable to prove their culpability based on the testimony of witnesses at the trial.

Witnesses had testified that they saw the minors throwing rocks at the police station and helping to set fire to a police motorcycle. The verdict however noted that none of the witnesses saw any of the rocks hit either a police officer or the station.

Witnesses for the defence insisted that the minors did not participate in the arson attacks although they were present in the area at the time.

The Juvenile Court judge stated in the verdict that the prosecution’s witness testimonies established that the minors were guilty of obstructing the police. However, the judge noted, the court could not alter the charges pressed against the accused for sentencing.

Today’s verdict was delivered more than a year after the terrorism trial began with two recent hearings postponed or canceled.

On February 8, protesters in Thinadhoo – an MDP stronghold in the south – set fire to the island’s police station, magistrate court, atoll council office and all police vehicles.

Nine policemen were assaulted and subsequently treated at the Thinadhoo regional hospital. Police declared at the time that the island was unsafe for police personnel, claiming “MDP supporters have threatened to attack residences of policemen”.

Following its investigation into the nationwide unrest and violence on February 8, the police forwarded over 100 cases to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office, requesting that 108 individuals be charged with terrorism.

Acts of arson are considered terrorism under the Terrorism Prevention Act enacted by the administration of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The offence carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.

While more than 100 persons were charged with terrorism, most cases currently remain stalled at the Criminal Court.

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Juvenile Court postpones terrorism trial of minors

The Juvenile Court has postponed the sentencing of four minors charged with terrorism for their alleged involvement in the arson attack on Thinadhoo Court on February 8, 2012.

A verdict was due on February 6, but the court postponed sentencing to Thursday. However, the court local media a verdict will now be delivered on February 24.

A court official told newspaper ‘Haveeru’ that the sentencing had to be postponed because the four minors and their lawyers did not attend court today. The official had said that the court will take action against them.

Protests erupted across the country on February 8, after a brutal police crackdown on an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protest against the party was ousting from power the previous day.

Protestors on Gaaf Dhaalu Atoll Thinadhoo Island set fire to the police station, magistrate court, atoll council office, and all police vehicles. Nine policemen were attacked and subsequently treated at the Thinadhoo Regional Hospital. Police officials at the time declared the area unsafe for local policemen as “MDP supporters have threatened to attack the residences of policemen.”

The police initially requested the Prosecutor General (PG) to charge 108 persons in connection with the unrest.

The PG pressed terrorism charges against the minors under article 6 (b), with reference to article 2 (f,g) of the Terrorism Prevention Act. Article 6 (b) states that any person found guilty of the act of terrorism shall be sentenced between 10 and 15 years imprisonment or banishment.

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State failed to follow majority of February 8 recommendations: HRCM

Independent institutions and the government have failed to implement the majority of the recommendations given by following a investigation into human rights violations during a brutal police crackdown on opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protesters on February 8, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has said.

Even after one and a half years, only three of the 17 recommendations regarding systemic issues have been fully implemented, HRCM President Mariyam Azra said at a press conference today.

The commission has not yet revealed which of the recommendations were implemented fully, or how much of the other specific recommendations have been implemented.

The report dated 28 May 2012 contained a total of 28 recommendations, 14 involving the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and seven involving the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

Other institutions that the HRCM had proposed recommendations to were Maldives National Defense Force MNDF), the Department of Judicial Administration, Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) and Ministry of Education.

HRCM recommended the the MPS and PIC investigate the “disproportionate” use of force in violation of police regulations . The report also stated that legal action should be taken against the officers responsible for such offences.

Both the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) set up to investigate the transfer of power and the PIC had made similar recommendations regarding the police service.

Members of the PIC have labeled actions of some police officers on February 6, 7 and 8 as crimes and have asked the Prosecutor General to prosecute officers  and recommended Ministry of Home Affairs suspend them.

Meanwhile, more than hundred protesters are being charged with terrorism and obstructing police duty in connection to incidents that took place on the same day.

MDP has called the charges “politically motivated” and demanded they be dropped immediately.

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MDP alleges 117 cases filed against February 8 2012 protesters “politically motivated”

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called for “politically motivated” court cases against 117 protesters charged with terrorism and obstructing police duty on February 8 2012 be immediately discontinued.

Nine MDP members from Milandhoo Island in Shaviyani Atoll, 28 members from Kulhudhuffushi Island in Haa Dhaal Atoll and 80 members from Addu City are currently facing prosecution. The accused include mid-Hithadhoo Constituency MP Mohamed ‘Matrix Mode’ Rasheed as well as a number of councilors and branch heads from these islands.

“A lot of the accused [currently standing trial] were charged with terrorism offences and obstructing police duty,” said MDP Spokesperson and MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy.

The MDP “condemned, in strong terms, these cases of unlawful and blatant granting of selective impunity from justice and calls on all concerned authorities to immediately cease this selective litigation,” during a press conference held May 20, led by Imthiyaz and MDP pro-bono lawyers Abdullah Haseen and Mohamed Fareed.

The party said it regarded the “discriminatory” prosecutions as being politically motivated, biased judicial actions against hundreds of MDP members, and “outside the requisite edicts of the Constitution for judicial fairness and equability.”

The political party also voiced their “great concern” that despite the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) findings that “unlawful brutal acts” were committed by security services in February 2012, the report’s recommendations that actions be taken against the offenders have been “disregarded with impunity”.

“Why doesn’t the government take action against those police officers when there is clear evidence of police brutality? None of the police officers have been investigated or prosecuted in line with the CoNI,” said Imthiyaz.

The MDP alleged that “despite public irrefutable and credibly substantiated video and audio evidence showing security services personnel committing brutal assaults and inflicting inhuman bashings”, no credible investigations or judicial actions have been taken.

Current court cases against MDP members had meanwhile been “unduly hastened”.

“The police were seen to participate in a mutiny and they have openly and publicly viewed their opposition and hatred towards the MDP,” MDP Spokesperson Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News at the press conference.

“As police investigation reports make up a substantive part of the legal cases being brought against MDP activists, how can these investigations be fair when police have been publicly on the record as biased and downright malicious [toward MDP supporters],” he continued.

“The MDP came out in a peaceful protest on the 8th, on the roads of Male’, and they were bashed up,” Zuhair said. “Our activists on the islands heard this and that escalated tensions on many islands where there are police stations. And then it became a kind of public uprising.”

“Within that public uprising, our activists’ primary objective was to rally and to somehow show strength, but among those came in other elements, [who] set fire to places, and then escalated the whole thing,” he added.

Zuhair said given the state of the judiciary justice for the accused was not possible, “but we’ll have better recourse to due process through the high court and supreme court and through international redress.”

No grounds to prosecute

The trials were being conducted to “intimidate the people” because elections are “very near” and the entire process was politicised, MDP lawyer Haseen told Minivan News.

“They demanded the suspects be kept in remand claiming they had forensic evidence. And then when they’re produced in court, there is no forensic evidence or video footage submitted, only witness statements,” Haseen explained.

“They are telling the press they have the evidence and highlighting a lot of photographs with fire, but they are not submitting these – just witness statements given by rival political parties,” he said.

Haseen claimed senior Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) officials pointed out to the police who to arrest and were now providing the witness statements against the MDP protesters in court.

“The problem is that even the island judges are not competent judges. They don’t even know criminal procedure. That’s a larger fight that we are building our campaign with that on top – journey for justice,” Haseen added.

MDP lawyer Fareed concurred with Haseen that it is a “politically motivated conflict of interest” to have police and former-opposition political parties provide the only evidence – witness statements – against the MDP members on trial.

“There are not any grounds for prosecution,” Fareed told Minivan News.

He attended three hearings in Kulhudhuffushi, which took place May 19, against 11 MDP members, including two island councilors, and was also dismayed by how witness statements were taken.

“The court they did not have a recording system, so the judge he himself was writing the witness statements in favor of the state. It was very terrible,” Fareed recounted.

“When the first witness was presented, I asked him directly ‘were you there when these  things happened?’ and he replied ‘this is after one year so I don’t remember these things’.”

“That’s all that’s enough – whatever the witness says after that is not applicable, not acceptable,” he declared.

“When the prosecutor asked him [the same question], the witness said ‘That man may be there but I don’t know,’ however the judge himself had already written the witness statement in favor of the prosecution,” he added.

“If they continue this hearing, they should have a recording system otherwise we’ll have to stop it,” Fareed concluded.

“All courts have recorders”

Kulhudhuffushi Court Magistrate Ali Adam explained to Minivan News today (May 23) that “all courts have recorders”.

“When dealing with criminal cases we try to write witness statements, it is the best way,” said Adam. “Recordings can be changed or edited. There might be court staff who hold certain political ideologies who might tamper with the statements.”

“When listening to a witness statement a judge will only write relevant remarks and things related to the accused’s rights. The witness then signs the hand-written statement,” explained Adam.

“We do not consider anyone standing trial as a criminal. How can we face a person thinking he’s an enemy? We do not consider the individual’s personality or which political party he is in,” he added.

The Prosecutor General, PG spokesperson, and PPM MPs Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahlouf were not responding at time of press.

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