Politicians blame powerful individuals behind gangs for Alhan stabbing

MPs have today condemned the stabbing of Maldivian Democratic Party MP Alhan Fahmy, decrying the apparent impunity enjoyed by the criminal gangs deemed responsible for the attack.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party member Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed called for community to root out those who use local gangs to carry out politically motivated attacks.

Saturday’s attack has been described by Alhan’s family and colleagues as premeditated and political in nature.

Meanwhile, one of the three men arrested in relation to the stabbing of MP Alhan Fahmy has been released from police custody today.

Mohamed Kinanath Ahmed was arrested shortly after the incident. Police have confirmed that, after appearing before judges yesterday evening, Kinanath was released before being re-arrested the same evening, then released once more this morning.

Kinanath is the brother of Hussain Humam Ahmed, who currently faces the death sentence for the murder of Progressive Party of Maldives MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.

Alhan is reported to be recovering from surgery in Colombo after receiving a stab wound to the back while in the popular Breakwater cafe in Malé.

Speaking with local media today, members of Alhan’s family have said that the surgery to repair damage to his spine was a success, though whether he recovers fully from paralysis in his right leg is yet to be determined.

Police arrested one man at the scene, with a further two individuals – including Kinanath – being taken into custody the same evening. Two suspects remain in custody, having had their detention extended for 10 days.

Kinanath is well known to authorities, previously having been listed as one of the most dangerous gangsters in the capital. He is said to be a member of Malé’s prominent Masodi gang.

Debating a motion condemning the attack in the People’s Majlis today, MPs expressed alarm at the dangerous gang culture in the country’s capital.

“There is no motive for gangs to attack and kill Alhan or the Ungoofaaru constituency MP Dr Afrasheem. I say this, because there are no reasons for people like Alhan or Afrashim to have issues with the gangs,” said Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed.

The real killers hidden behind a curtain includes businessmen and politically motivated killings through paid gangs, he continued.

“We have to find the Ace hiding behind the curtain if we want to reform this community.”

Maldivian Democratic Party MP Ilyas Labeeb suggested that gangs were not hesitant to commit such acts in public because they are protected. He also warned that, at this point, gang members would not hesitate to enter the Majlis chambers and slaughter MPs.

A 2012 report by the Asia Foundation found that Malé’s 20-30 gangs worked closely with politicians:

“Political and business elites exploit gangs to carry out a range of illegal activities that serve their political or business interests in exchange for financing the gangs,” read the report.

After being sentenced to one year’s imprisonment for possession of a knife in 2011, Kinanath was released under the President Mohamed Nasheed’s ‘Second Chance’ programme, Sun Online has today reported.

After the ousting of Nasheed in February 2012, the programme – designed to improve rehabilitation and reduce recidivism – was blamed by then Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed for a rise in crime rates. The programme was subsequently shut down.

The new administration of President Abdulla Yameen – in which Jameel serves as vice president – has adopted its own policies to reintegrate offenders deemed not a threat to society, involving the commuting of sentences and the removal of criminal records.


MDP MP Ilyas Labeeb appeals to police to refuse “unconstitutional” orders, as protests continue

MDP member of parliament and parliamentary whip Ilyas Labeeb appealed to police to protect the constitution, refuse to follow unconstitutional orders, and to learn from the action of the senior MNDF officers who recently sent a “letter of concern” to Chief of Defence Force about the matter.

Ilyas Labeeb delivered his speech from the campaign truck kept on Fareedhee Magu in the middle of the crowd, facing the police standing behind barricades.

Just as Labeeb began addressing the crowd, police lit up floodlights to spotlight the MP.

“Shining that light in our faces, or implying we are marked for arrest, does not intimidate me. Violently taking MP Ali Azim into your custody does not intimidate me. Even if you come and take me away now, that still won’t scare me. I will come back here and speak out as soon as I am freed again. We are asking for elections, for our constitutional right,” Labeeb said.

“Aren’t you ashamed to be bowing down to unconstitutional orders? Nineteen MNDF officers have sent a letter against the following of constitutional orders, against the politicisation of the security forces. The MNDF is more senior than the police force. Listen to them, learn from them. Give it up now. Your stand on February 7 was that you were demonstrating against unconstitutional orders. What are you doing today?”

“We are standing up for the constitutional rights we are entitled to, for our sake, for the sake of our families, yes, but equally for the future of you and your families. Start protecting the constitution, police, that is in the best interests of the nation.”

Ilyas Labeeb ended his speech by leading the crowd in chanting “Where’s my vote? You stole my vote”, “Election now” and “Forward, forward, swiftly forward”.

By this time, just over a dozen regular police officers formed a line of obstruction behind the barricades, facing the protesters.

Labeeb moved to the frontline of the protest and appealed to the police again, this time speaking directly to them without the aid of a microphone or making it a public speech.

“You boys must think deeply. Why are you following unconstitutional orders? Neither the Police Act nor the Constitution mandates you to do so, in fact it is clearly stated that you must not follow an unconstitutional order,” he said.

“Don’t you realise what they are doing? They send you out here against hundreds and thousands of citizens, you come with your name tags and in simple regular uniform, and you face scorn from the people. Yet it isn’t you, but the Special Operations who hide behind their masks and helmets who run into crowds and brutalise citizens. They are using you young boys as a shield to hide behind. You don’t have to be slaves to the SO officers or the Commissioner of Police,” Labeeb continued.

“Look at [Commissioner of Police] Abdulla Riyaz. He’s hiding in his rooms after sending you all here. He has secured an apartment abroad, planning to run away as soon as the government changes. All the leading people who were part of the coup have. They won’t think of you then. What will happen to you boys if you continue following unconstitutional orders?”

“Remember all that talk about housing flats for the police? Do you know who took the first flat? Abdulla Riyaz. It was meant for regular officers like you, but he took one for himself first. Is this how you want things to be? Are you still going to stay back quietly and let things proceed like this?”

“I know that as you are all listening to this speech of mine now, your seniors will take you in for a chat later tonight. But they are not the ones you should be believing, nor should you believe me. Instead, read for yourselves what is in the Police Act and the constitution. If you need assistance, we can arrange lawyers for you; not lawyers affiliated with MDP but other experienced lawyers.”

“Regardless of how long it takes to get back our right to vote, we will continue demanding it. And when the elections are on, we will beat them with votes. We will win the elections.”

MP went back into the crowds after concluding his monologue to the line of officers.

Monday – the fourth consecutive day of protests – saw protesters grow from a few hundred to just over a thousand by around 10:00pm.

Crowds later thinned out once the SO officers came to the area after protesters moved, and later hid the police barricades at the protest site.

Minivan News observed teams of SO officers run into the crowds twice and make two arrests – one of whom was a man who had previously crossed the police line set out by the regular police officers, referred to as ‘Blues’.

The SO later drove six times to and fro through the protest area in one of their trucks after crowds had thinned out, locating a barricade hidden in a construction site on Fareedhee Magu and sending regular officers to retrieve it.

“Targeting MDP MPs as an intimidation tactic”: MP Alhan Fahmy

Meanwhile, police have been arresting and summoning MDP parliamentary group members in relation to various cases in the past few days after the party started direct action asking for immediate elections.

MP Alhan Fahmy, who was summoned to police headquarters for questioning at 2:00pm on Tuesday described the events as “intimidation tactics being used by the police. They [the government] are using multiple state institutions in their actions of undermining the constitution and its powers”.

Fahmy said that the police had accused him of threatening Supreme Court judges and their families at a protest held on September 26.

“I told them I have done no such thing, that I never called for attacks or threatened any of these judges they speak of or their families. That all I said at the rally was my perspective on the current judges sitting on the SC bench. I told them that I had spoken of a video clip showing indecent behaviour that police has said Ali Hameed has been seen in, and that if so I believe Ali Hameed should no longer be sitting on the bench,” Fahmy told Minivan News today.

MDP International Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor was also taken into police custody on Monday afternoon, allegedly for not accepting court summons. He has been transferred to house arrest today after the first hearing of the case.

Ghafoor’s lawyer, Fareesha Abdulla O’Shea, however claims that due process was not followed when delivering the court summons.

She said that the case is being presided over by Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

“The case is about Hamid’s refusal to give a urine sample and he is being charged under section 123 of the Drug Act. I advised not to enter a plea as we haven’t received any of the related documents or information from the court yet,” O’Shea said.

“Today, after the hearing, Hamid was issued another summons relating to charges levied for possession of alcohol,” she stated.

MP Ali Azim was arrested from the protests on Sunday night, with SO officers pulling him off the campaign truck, throwing him onto the ground and dragging him away into custody. He was brought to a court hearing on Monday, where the courts added a seven day extension to his detention on account of him being “a threat to national security”.

Azim attended a meeting of the Parliament’s Privileges Committee after his hearing yesterday, where he alleged that he had been ill-treated even after arrest.

“The SO officer on my right side tried very hard to break my finger, I have photos to prove this. Upon being pushed into the van, one of the officers grabbed hold of my groin area very hard,” Azim told the committee.

“They also asked me to provide a urine sample, but I didn’t because my lawyer advised me against it as the charges levied against me did not allow police to make such a request. I was also handcuffed on the trip from Dhoonidhoo to the court in Male’, and on the way to this parliamentary meeting,” he added.

DRP MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed was also arrested at protests and later released, while MP Ibrahim Rasheed is being investigated for allegedly assaulting police.

MP Eva Abdulla has also been arrested at protests on Tuesday.


Parliament endorses MP Mutthalib for Clemency Board

Fares-Maathoda MP Ibrahim Mutthalib has been endorsed as the parliamentary representative at the Clemency Board.

He received 40 votes in favor, and 23 against.

Hulhu-Meedhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb had nominated Kendhikulhudhoo MP Ahmed Easa to the post, but the nomination was rejected with 35 votes in favor and 36 against.

Mutthalib was nominated by Kela MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom following Galolhu-South MP Ahmed Mahloof’s resignation. Mahloof cited inefficiency and pressure to release inmates as grounds for leaving the board, Haveeru reports.

The Clemency Boards was established in March 2010 in accordance with Article 9 of the Clemency Act.


MDP MPs refusing to accept committee allowance

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs are coming forward to declare they would not accept a Rf20,000 committee allowance on top of their salaries, if approved by parliament in the controversial MP Privileges Bill.

The MPs came forward in support of the party’s Chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, who yesterday withdrew her resolution to cut the allowance after the MDP Parliamentary Group voted in its favour.

“I was not at that meeting but I bowed to the party’s rules and took it out,” Mariya told Minivan News yesterday, adding that she had informed parliament that she did not wish to receive the allowance herself.

MDP’s internal branches were today criticising their parliamentary group following the decision.

Official website of MDP today carried a statement that MDP MPs Eva Abdulla, Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Ilyas Labeeb, Mohamed Gasam, Mohamed Nazim and Ibrahim Rasheed had also announced that they did not support the committee allowance and would not accept it.

Following Mariya’s withdrawal of the resolution opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf resubmitted it.

“I was the first one to raise it before Mariya, but the Speaker [DRP MP] Abdulla Shahid went with Mariya’s changes, perhaps because of the factional fight [the opposition] is having. When Mariya withdrew it I resubmitted it.” Mahlouf said yesterday.

Increasing MP salaries by Rf 20,000 would be a huge blow to parliament’s credibility, Mahlouf said, “as the public do not believe we are working to their expectations.” he said.

MDP MP Ahmed Easa also said he did not support the committee allowance, but he said the MPs who did support the committee allowance “have reasonable points.”

”It’s true what they say, MPs have so much to do with their salary each month. People can’t even imagine how many calls a MP receives each day asking for help,” Easa explained. ”Anyone in trouble from a area will run to their MP first, MPs have to lend money for people in need of medication, even for reasons such as people coming to get money to pay the school fees of their children.”

Easa also explained that most of the MPs were not from Male’, which forces them to live in rented apartments.

”As everyone knows, a standard apartment’s rent in Male’ will be Rf10000-20000 (US$750-US$1500), and what about all the phone calls that MPs have to make, that costs an additional Rf5000 (US$375) each month, and what about their family, wife and kids?” he asked, claiming that MPs “have to spend most of their salary on society.”

”As for me, there has never been a month that I have saved any amount of money in my bank account. I am ready to provide any document necessary to prove it,” he said.

However, Easa said due to the economic condition of the Maldives it was not wise to increase the salaries of MPs or any other institution of the government.

”The government’s recurrent expenditure may rise over 80 percent next year which means there will be only 20 percent of the budget to spend on development,” Easa said.