Former Defense Minister brought to Police for statement

Former Defense Minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim was brought  to the Maldives Police Services (MPS) headquarters to give a statement last night (February 7).

A police media official told Minivan News that Nazim was summoned in order to obtain a statement regarding the ongoing investigation into weapons found at Nazim’s home.

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed – who has replaced former Attorney General Azima Shukoor as Nazim’s legal representative – confirmed that he and some of his family members have provided the police with statements.

“I would like to reiterate that Nazim has been assisting the police with this investigation since day one,” Hameed told Minivan News today. “In doing so, Nazim and members of his family provided DNA samples and fingerprints to the police.”

The MPS had previously revealed that it found a pistol and a makeshift explosive device at Nazim’s home during a raid under a court warrant in the early hours of January 18.

Speaking to the media on January 29, Commissioner of Police (CP) Hussein Waheed said that, after searching Nazim’s home using “forced entry”, police found a 9mm handgun, an improvised explosive device, 3 bullets, and a magazine.

Nazim’s lawyer immediately released a statement denying that the items found were there with the former minister’s knowledge.

“The items claimed to have been found at Colonel Mohamed Nazim’s residence by Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed do not belong to Colonel Nazim or his family, and if there were any items were present at the house, they were there without Colonel Nazim’s or his family’s knowledge,” read the statement.

Both Nazim and his wife’s passport have been withheld by authorities, with Commissioner Waheed explaining that police did not consider taking Nazim into custody to be the “best course of action to proceed depending on his profile”.

“However, as you can see we have prevented him from leaving abroad,” he added.

Additionally, Commissioner Waheed said that police had written to the Maldivian National Defense Force to verify ownership of the weaponry, being informed that no items were missing from the military’s inventory.

Police have maintained that the service was not aware it was Nazim’s home until after the raid, noting that they had adhered to international best practices and that Nazim was present during the search.

Waheed described the weapons as “very dangerous”, saying that, while the handgun could be lethal, the explosive device when matched with another component could cause “large scale destruction”.

Nazim – who was also acting health minister and head of immigration – was dismissed from his post on January 20, three days after the police raid.

Speaking to the media at the time, Nazim said that events had shown that no Maldivian was assured of safety and security.

“This gives an alarming signal that entering any house, at any time and to do anything is possible. The defence minister is the most senior official standing beside the president,” he told the press immediately following his dismissal.

Police have since suggested that Nazim was questioned regarding the weapons but that he had failed to adequately respond to the questions.

Related to this story

Pistol and explosive device found at Nazim’s home, says Police Commissioner

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Items confiscated by police do not belong to Nazim or his family, say lawyers

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Commissioner of Police for Western Australia pays visit to the Maldives

Commissioner of Police for Western Australia Karl O’Callaghan is conducting an unofficial visit to the Maldives.

A police press statement released yesterday (January 12) said O’Callaghan was received at the airport by Deputy Police Commissioner Mohamed Sadhiq and former Deputy Police Commissioner (Rtd) Ibrahim Latheef – who also served as a special consultant at Western Australia Police.

Though O’Callaghan is on an unofficial visit, he is scheduled to meet the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed and other executive officers explained the statement.

In addition, O’Callaghan is also scheduled to meet top government officials and also participate in a special forum where he will meet with all employees working with the police.

In August last year, a scholarship opportunity from University of Western Sydney (UWS) was unveiled for promising Maldivian police officers to participate in a three-year doctoral research course which would enable candidates to increase the capacity of the Maldivian police.


No apparent progress in police search for Rilwan, family plans protest for Friday

The Maldives Police Service is continuing the search for missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan as a top priority, without “interruption or boredom”, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has said.

“In the year 2014, the case that the Maldives Police Services worked the most on and was unable to complete investigations into was the disappearance of Maafannu Shining Star Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla,” Waheed told the press today.

“I assure Rilwan’s family in this opportunity that the police will continue the search without any interruption or boredom. I wish for Rilwan’s safe return,” he said.

Rilwan is believed to have been abducted at knifepoint in Malé’s suburb Hulhumaé in the early hours of August 8.

“From our investigations so far, there is no evidence to suggest Rilwan is dead. Therefore, our hope is he is still safe and alive,”

Waheed refused to reveal details of the search for Rilwan despite repeated questions from the press.

Reporters questioned the commissioner on Rilwan’s whereabouts, whether Rilwan is believed to have been abducted or if his disappearance was voluntary, and on possible groups responsible for and their motivations for disappearing Rilwan.

“I am unable to provide additional details on this case, as some information revealed previously and information circulated by different sources cast a shadow over our work. Therefore, I am constrained from revealing ongoing efforts and plans for the future,” he said.

Rilwan’s family has accused the police of negligence, and has planned a march titled ‘Suvaalu March’ – or ‘Question March’ – on Friday (January 9).

The walk is to start at 4pm from Malé’s Artifical Beach area.

Police dragging their feet, says brother

Speaking to Minivan News, Rilwan’s brother Moosa Rilwan said the state had failed to protect his brother and public pressure was necessary to force the police to expedite investigations.

“Tomorrow marks the 154th day since my brother disappeared. The police are still dragging their feet. We are completely dependent on the police to find him. We can only move forward when the investigations are completed,” he said.

Public pressure had previously worked, resulting in the arrest of four individuals, he said.

The home ministry had told the family in a recent meeting that police are still waiting on analysis of DNA samples from two cars which may have been used to abduct Rilwan.

“Five months on, the DNA samples have not been analysed. No one is in custody anymore. No motive has been explained. Police still cannot definitively tell us if it was an abduction,” he said.

“Meanwhile, my family and I are reduced to begging the authorities for help. President Abdulla Yameen still refuses to comment on the case. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Rilwan’s family has filed a complaint with the Police Integrity Commission requesting the watchdog to investigate police negligence in the case.

Home Minister Umar Naseer has previously acknowledged involvement of gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Gang involvement

Local media on Wednesday reported an individual arrested over the case traveled to Syria for jihad in early January. He was accompanied by six members of the Kuda Henveiru gang including Azlif Rauf, a suspect in the brutal murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concluded the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.

The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.

The report identified Azlif’s brother Arlif Rauf as the owner of a red car, which may have been used in an abduction reported on the night Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan disappeared.

Police were investigating Arlif’s car for having been illegally imported to Hulhumalé on August 4, and returned to Malé sometime between August 13 – 15, the report continued.

It also suggested gang leaders had been exposed to radical Islam during incarceration in prison, saying that they openly supported the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and recruited jihadists for the war in Syria and Iraq.

MDN on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.

Related to this story

Rilwan suspect’s detention extended for the fifth time

Two immigration officers and Afrasheem murder suspect among group of twelve jihadis

Missing journalist’s family accuses police of negligence, files complaint

Home minister acknowledges gang involvement in Rilwan case, blames opposition for slow progress

MDN investigation implicates radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance


Over 50 Maldivian militants fighting in foreign wars, reveals Commissioner of Police

There are over 50 Maldivians fighting in foreign wars, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has revealed.

“These people leave the country under normal procedures. So it is not easy to identify if they are traveling to go fight with foreign rebel groups,” Waheed told the press today.

“However, within a few days we hear that they have joined these groups. Our statistics estimate there are 50 Maldivians working with foreign rebel groups.”

The commissioner’s estimate dwarfs the figure suggested by Home Minister Umar Naseer to  the People’s Majlis in December. Naseer at the time said that over seven Maldivians were fighting abroad.

In the past fortnight, at least twelve Maldivians have traveled to Syria via turkey for jihad.

Responding to a question from Minivan News on mechanisms to prevent radicalisation, Waheed said police might reveal plans at a later late.

“We are working on it. Even now, we are doing a lot of work with the Islamic ministry and other relevant government institutions.”

The police do not yet know who the most vulnerable groups to radicalisation are in the Maldives, Waheed continued, pointing out recent jihadis included both genders, urban and rural areas, and people of all ages.

When asked if radicalised groups posed a domestic terrorist threat, Waheed said the police are tracking individuals associated with foreign militant groups.

“We know who the foreign militants are. We are monitoring their activities. My hope is, I believe we will be able to monitor them to the extent they are unable to [present a threat] in the Maldives.”

He appealed to the public to share any reports of individuals who may leave the Maldives for jihad.


According to reliable sources, a group of six that left the country on December 27 included two immigration officers. Others in the group include two women who are spouses of two of the men and a one year old infant.

The second group of seven all belonged to Malé’s Kuda Henveiru gang. They include a suspect in the brutal murder of Dr Afrasheem Ali, Azlif Rauf.

Azlif’s group also included an individual arrested over the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan, one man arrested for issuing a death threat, one man classified by the police as a dangerous criminal, and three men with criminal records, local media have reported.

Waheed refused to comment on Azlif’s whereabouts.

In 2013, the former Maldivian National Defense Force officer was put under house arrest over pending terrorism charges, but the Prosecutor General’s Office withdrew charges last September.

Waheed said the police can only prevent such people from leaving the country if the force receives prior information that they may be traveling for jihad.

Maldivians are not barred from international travel, Waheed said, and so “it is not easy to figure out what motive they are traveling for”.

In November, Sri Lankan police detained three Maldivians who were allegedly preparing to travel to Syria through Turkey.

The incident followed reports of a couple from Fuvahmulah and a family of four from Meedhoo in Raa Atoll travelling to militant organisation Islamic State-held (IS) territories.

In November, a jihadist group called Bilad Al Sham Media (BASM) – which describes itself as ‘Maldivians in Syria’ – revealed that a fifth Maldivian had died in Syria.

protest march took place in the capital, Malé, in September, with around 200 participants bearing the IS flag and calling for the implementation of Islamic Shariah in the Maldives.

In late August, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon issued a press statement condemning “the crimes committed against innocent civilians by the organisation which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”

Related to this story

Two immigration officers and Afrasheem murder suspect among group of twelve jihadis

More than seven Maldivians fighting in foreign civil wars, reveals home minister

MDN investigation implicates radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance

Police detain Maldivian jihadis caught in Sri Lanka


Police Commissioner notes “huge decline” in crime in 2014

Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed has delivered a New Year message to the public, calling upon all Maldivians to work together to ensure the safety and peace of the community.

“The numerous and arduous work done by Officers of all ranks in the year 2014 has resulted in a huge decline in crime across the country. The Maldives Police Service firmly resolves to carry on with the noble work to make this year as productive and as rewarding.”

“The Maldives Police Service stands ready to safeguard the people of the Maldives and their interests, to uphold the law and taking steps to prevent youth from getting involved in crime,” continued the message.

While President Abdulla Yameen has claimed his administration has brought peace to all parts of the country, which had been riven by political turmoil, the opposition has accused the government of failing to protect citizens.

Although police statistics appear to reveal a drop in all reported instances of serious crime, 2014 saw a series of high-profile crimes including the murder of five individuals, four of which came as a result of gang violence in the capital Malé.

Additionally, a number of politically motivated abductions remain unresolved by authorities, while Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan has been missing – believed abducted – since August 8.

“The youth of the nation should be determined to work even harder to build a better nation for their future, as well as the community as a whole. They should strive to avoid crime and criminal behavior and see it as their civic responsibility,” said Police Commissioner Waheed.

2014 saw the introduction of a number of ‘Blues for Youth’ camps held across the country by the police, with the aim of broadening the role of youth in national activities, preparing them for the job market, and facilitating opportunities to strengthen assertiveness.


Chief justice and police commissioner discuss police obstruction and assault cases

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed met on Thursday and discussed measures to expedite cases involving assault of police officers and obstruction of police duty.

According to a statement by the Maldives Police Services, Saeed pledged to take the necessary steps and said law enforcement officers must receive due protection and security.

Appreciating the service of policemen, Saeed said the nation came first before the individual, and said the Supreme Court bench would not engage in any act that may cause harm to the Maldives.

Waheed said “attacking law enforcement officers is a crime in civilized countries,” and spoke about the need for expediting cases involving attacks on police officers.

Hundreds of individuals were arrested from protests on charges of obstruction of police duty and assault of police officers during the anti-government protests following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

An individual found guilty of the offense may be fined up to MVR12,000 (US$778) and/or sentenced to six months in jail.

According to statistics published by the Prosecutor General’s Office, in 2013, 101 individuals were charged with obstruction of police duty. In 2012, 65 individuals were charged with obstruction of police duty and 59 were charged with assaulting a police officer. Figures were not available for 2014.

The police have not published statistics on the number of individuals arrested on these charges.

According to the police statement, Saeed and Waheed also discussed measures to reduce crime rates in the Maldives.

Saeed was appointed as the Chief Justice following the controversial and sudden dismissal of former Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan after a People’s Majlis amendment to the Judicature Act reducing the seven-member Supreme Court bench to five judges.

Supreme Court Justices Ali Hameed and Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Deputy Commissioners of Police Ahmed Saudhy and Mohamed Sodiq also participated in the meeting.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Mushin has requested the police speed up investigation in cases involving arrest from unlawful protests and submit charges for prosecution within 48 hours.

Related to this story

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Police negligent in investigating Rilwan’s disappearance, says Maldivian Democracy Network

Human Rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) has accused the Maldives Police Services of negligence in investigating the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

In a statement issued today, MDN condemned the police’s failure to inform the public of progress in investigations and failure to confirm whether an abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing is connected to his disappearance.

“It has been 77 days since journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla was abducted. The Maldivian Democracy Network believes the Maldives Police Services has been negligent in conducting a timely investigation aimed at finding Rilwan and saving his life,” the NGO said.

Rilwan was last sighted at 12:55am on August 8 at the Hulhumalé ferry terminal in Malé. Eyewitnesses have since said they saw a man being forced into a car at knifepoint infront of Rilwan’s apartment building around the time he would have reached home.

The abduction was reported to the police and a forensics team confiscated a knife that was dropped on the ground.

Rilwan has not been seen or heard from since.

MDN also slammed Home Minister Umar Naseer and Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed for suggesting the NGO’s investigative report implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance was responsible for police’s failure to finding Rilwan.

“Each day and every moment that passes without knowledge of Rilwan’s whereabouts could endanger his life further and deteriorate public’s trust in the police to ensure public safety,” said the NGO.

Inconsistency and negligence

MDN urged the police to clarify the connection between the reported abduction and Rilwan’s disappearance, stating “This organisation believes the Maldives Police Services is obligated to share the progress of investigations into criminal activity that have led to public outcry.”

Police statements on August 28 and September 4, and the police’s announcement that it was collecting forensic samples from three cars suggested they believed the abduction may be connected to Rilwan’s disappearance, MDN noted.

However, on September 16, the police said it had no concrete evidence to suggest the two incidents were related.

Police have yet to offer an explanation of this statement, and have not revealed who was forced into the car, MDN said. Moreover, the police have failed to reveal whether they are investigating the abduction as an unrelated and separate case.

Despite public outcry over the case and repeated requests for information on the investigation, the police have not shared any details with Rilwan’s family or the public, the statement noted.


The investigation – conducted by Glasgow based Athena Intelligence and Security – discounted theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, and confirmed “hostile surveillance” of Rilwan at the ferry terminal by members of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.

Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has accused the media and MDN for “obstructing” police investigations, claiming they had revealed leads.

Meanwhile, Naseer said the report had forced the police to change investigation technique and speed up the arrest of four individuals, leading to their early release.

“It has an extreme negative effect on an investigation when people who are not aware of the details of an investigation release reports and offer speculations based purely on hearsay with the intent of gaining some political advantage,” he said.

MDN today hit back at Waheed and Naseer’s claims stating, “instead of investigating allegations against [gang members] named in the report and clearing their names, the police attacked the report and attempted to cover up the criminal offenses outlined in the report.”

The media has previously publicised the names and photos of gang members identified in the report in relation to other criminal activity, the statement noted.

However, the police expressed no concern and “shamefully defended the gang members in the name of protecting human rights,” it said.

MDN also condemned the government’s claim that the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party was behind the report, stating “we condemn efforts to politicize this organisation’s work.”

The statement urged the police to refrain from “such undignified actions.”

Naseer has for the first time acknowledged gang involvement in Rilwan’s disappearance, on October 19 stating: “We already knew that there is a gang connection to Rilwan’s case. However, in a modern investigation, one doesn’t immediately arrest suspects. We leave them free and follow them and gather information.”

One man named in the report, Ahmed Muaz vandalised Minivan News’ security camera on September 25 shortly before two others buried a machete in the building’s door.

A Minivan News journalist received death threats shortly thereafter, which read, “You will be killed or disappeared next. Watch out.”

While police arrested a 32-year-old suspect Thursday night on charges of stealing the security camera – clearly identifiable on the CCTV footage – the Criminal Court released the suspect with conditions the following day.


Vnews editor receives SMS death threat after accusations of assault

Editor of Vnews Adam Haleem has received a death threat following heated confrontations during a meeting of the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA).

“If you keep behaving however you like, we will make you disappear, we will behead you. Keep that in mind [expletive],” read the anonymous text message, received yesterday at 11:51pm.

The threat was received just minutes after the conclusion of an MJA meeting, in which local media outlet Vaguthu is claiming its Chief Editor Musharraf Hassan had been the victim of an attempted assault by Haleem.

The message received by Haleem comes just days after all media outlets gathered to call for an end to the culture of intimidation, after the recent abduction of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla.

Following last night’s disrupted meeting, MJA President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir announced his resignation, citing the atmosphere as “not conducive” to hold the association’s scheduled elections.

Haleem, whose award-winning journalism career has also included stints at Sun Online and Haveeru, has rejected claims of an assault, as has the MJA which released a statement denying the incident occurred.

No other journalists present at the meeting have reported the attempted assault, said by Vaguthu to have involved a chair being aimed unsuccessfully at their editor. The paper has also alleged that both the MJA and Haveeru had defamed the paper in the subsequent reporting of events.

Haleem noted that the threatening text was received 15 minutes after the meeting ended, with Vaguthu soon reporting the assault having taken place.

He also noted that he had received messages last night which appeared to have come from Vnews owner and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim, calling upon him to resign.

“Gasim called me after I received texts in his name and said he had not sent them. So we have to find out where these messages came from,” said Haleem.

Gasim himself was the subject of death threats last week, with the resort owner alleging opposition MPs to have been behind the text threats sent to the Jumhooree Party leader.

In a letter sent to Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed, Gasim suggested the threats had been sent using number duplicating software which gave the appearance of having been sent from a different individual.

Media concerned

The media’s growing concern over a number of attacks on staff and property prompted a landmark joint statement from all the country’s media outlets, signed on Saturday (August 23), expressing “grave concern” over the disappearance of Rilwan 17 days ago.

“We will not step back, or put down our pens, or silence our tongues, or hold our thoughts in the face of such threats. We will do whatever is necessary to secure our right,” it read.

“Efforts have always been made by various parties to silence journalists. Many journalists have been assaulted,” said the document, representing 12 different organisations.

As the police’s investigations into Rilwan’s disappearance continues, Police Commissioner Waheed met with senior officials from telecoms company Ooredoo regarding anonymous text threats.

As the threatening texts were “the issue that public has expressed concern with the most,” discussions focused on ways to speedily resolve the issue, explained a police press release.

Discussions were said to focus on “establishing a mechanism for identifying those who are sending messages to incite fear among citizens faster than at present and putting a stop to it.”

Around 15 journalists from across the media community received SMS threats in relation to their outlets’ coverage of gang-related violence earlier this month, while more threats were reported last week, making specific reference to Rilwan’s disappearance.

A text message sent to Minivan 97 journalist Aishath Aniya on August 20, from a sender identified as ‘ISIS’, read as follows:

“You are next on our hit list. Be careful when you walk alone. #fuckmoyameehaa.”


Three minors charged in gang murder

Three minors have been charged over the death of 21-year-old Hussein Waheed, who died from stab injuries to his chest on December 24, 2013.

A 16-year-old is also being charged with murder, while a second 16-year-old is being charged as an accomplice to murder. A 14-year-old is also being charged with attacking another individual at the scene.

Although the Juvenile Court reduces sentences for juvenile offenders, judges have no opportunity to offer leniency in murder-related offenses, a juvenile court spokesperson told Minivan News.

New death penalty regulations publicised in March allow children as young as seven to be executed for murder. The regulations came partly in response to a spate of gang-related killings in the capital in recent years.

Home Minister Umar Naseer said the regulations were a first step to “keeping peace and creating a safe environment for our citizens.”

According to the police, Waheed was murdered in a dispute over drugs between rival gangs in Malé. He was attacked at 10:30pm on December 24, and died shortly afterwards at 11:10pm at Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

Malé’s prominent gang culture has been well documented in recent years as using young people to carry out illegal acts, with persistent suggestions that the groups are linked with powerful business and political factions.

The 16-year-old murder suspect is accused of stabbing Waheed in the chest with a six inch blade, while the second 16-year-old is accused of helping the suspect flee the scene.

The 14-year-old is being charged with attempting to attack another person at the scene with a 7-inch blade.

All three are currently under police custody.

The police also arrested two additional men over the murder and have previously noted that all four individuals initially arrested in this case – except the 14-year-old – have criminal records.

The murder suspect had previously been sentenced for three counts of theft but was released on completing a rehabilitation program by the Juvenile Court.

Hearings are scheduled for May 27 and June 3.

The victim Waheed also has a criminal record, being taken into police custody in April 2011 as part of a special operation to reduce crime in the capital, in connection to a stockpile of weapons and drugs found in a Malé house.

On December 29, Naseer said the police had prevented a second revenge attack for Waheed’s murder in late December.

In May 2013, Amnesty International issued a statement condemning the sentencing of two 18-year-olds to death for a murder committed while they were minors.

The Juvenile Court issued the death sentence to two 18 year-olds found guilty of the February 18, 2012 murder of Abdul Muheeth. Muheeth was stabbed at 1:45am near the Finance Ministry building in the capital Malé and later died during treatment.

“The Maldives is entering new and dangerous territory – imposing death sentences for crimes allegedly committed by children is alarming,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

“The Maldives authorities are flouting international law – anyone convicted of a crime committed when they were under 18 is exempt from the death penalty,” she said.