Members of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo conducted a protest march Friday calling on the authorities to bring those responsible to justice after a 17 year-old from the island, Hussein Hassan, was severely injured by a wooden plank allegedly thrown from Maafanu Endherigas.
Hussein Hassan was struck on the head by a wooden pole during an MDP protest on October 20 outside Maafanu Endherimaage, residence of the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
The injury left the 17 year-old with skull fractures and paralysis down one side of his body.
According to the MDP website, about 300 participated in the protest, carrying party flags as well as placards and banners condemning the release of Gassan and calling for the perpetrator to face trial and answer for the crime.
While Police arrested Mohamed Gassan Maumoon, son of the former President, on suspicion of hurling the wooden block last week, the Criminal Court ruled that his arrest was unlawful as due process was not followed and ordered his release.
Following his release and media reports suggesting the incident took place, police exhibited video footage of the wooden pole striking the 17 year-old victim on the head while MDP protesters were outside Endherimaage.
Gassan’s lawyer, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim ‘Wadde’, claimed to local media that the plank was thrown by a protester.
At the police briefing, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah said police wished to “reveal the truth” about the incident as “deliberately false allegations have been made against police using the media” and “relentless efforts” had been made to cast aspersions on police and its senior officers.
“We had reasons to implicate Gassan Maumoon in this matter,” Jinah said, adding that police had statements from eight witnesses who saw Gassan on the balcony as well as photos taken by a police forensic team of wooden poles inside the Endherimaage building Thursday night.
In addition to eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence, said Jinah, the “most important reason” for suspecting Gassan was his admission upon questioning that he did step out to the balcony.
Following his admission, said Jinah, “after a gesture from his lawyer he then exercised the right to remain silent.”
Upon request by police, the Criminal Court has since imposed a travel ban on Gassan for one month.
“Trial by media”
In a statement released to local media on Thursday, Gassan denied the allegations and insisted he would prove his innocence in a court of law.
Gassan accused Superintendent Jinah of using his statements during questions for “political purposes,” explaining that he chose to remain silent out of concern that the investigation was politically-motivated and could be used to harm his family.
Gassan said he exercised the constitutional right to remain silent after police appeared to “casting a net” around him for political ends.
The former President’s son concluded his statement by accusing police of attempting to conduct “trial by media” and making misleading statements to the public.
In interviews with local media outlets, Gassan claimed police senior officials were motivated by a desire for promotions as a reward for his arrest and detention.
“Double-standards in double-quick time”
Gassan’s release was meanwhile condemned by the ruling party as testament to the “open double-standards” and “politicisation” of senior judges.
“When former President Gayoom’s son is arrested – for an extremely serious offence, namely leaving a young man with brain damage – the court convenes extraordinarily at 16:00hrs the same day and, after ignoring materials provided by the police to support his detention, is able to hand down a judgment of unlawful arrest that evening,” noted Chairman ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik in a statement. “Compare this with the treatment of Ilham, an MDP activist who was arrested for damaging private property and who the very same Criminal Court decided, at the same time as freeing Ghassan, to remand in custody for a further five days pending investigations.”
“Senior members of the judiciary are no longer even offering the pretence of due process or rule of law; they are acting according to their own personal interests and allegiances, with complete contempt for justice. A young man is lying in hospital paralyzed down one side, and the chief suspect in the attack last night walked free from court and went with his friends and family to celebrate their “victory”. On the same day, a ‘normal’ citizen, who lacks Ghassan’s family connections, has his detention – on far less serious charges – extended by five days. This is double-standards in double-quick time.”
Last Wednesday, the MDP’s national council approved a resolution submitted by Thinadhoo MP Mohamed Gassan to condemn “the Criminal Court’s obstruction of police efforts to investigate this brutal act” and call on the authorities to take action.