Police seize mobile phones and drugs in Maafushi prison

The Maldives Police Services have seized illegal narcotics and mobile phones in Maafushi Prison on Sunday.

A Police and Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) joint operation uncovered 50 rubber packers, one bullet size packet, one can and 22 cellophane packets containing illegal drugs. Five additional packets with traces of illegal drugs were also found.

Police discovered 15 mobile phones, 17 mobile phone batteries, 26 SIM cards, three mobile phone chargers, one SD memory card and one knife during the raid.

In a statement on Sunday, the police said that the operation was conducted after police received reports that inmates in Maafushi prison had been calling various people, asking them to recharge their phones with large amounts of cash.

Police said that inmates have also phoned people outside jail and told them that they will conduct useful projects in the Maldives and beneficial work and asked for money in return.

Inmates had also called shops pretending to be fishermen calling from a fishing boat or staff working on a safari boat, and have asked the shops to put credit in their mobile phones promising to pay the shop back at a later date, the police said.

The police advised people not to participate in money transactions proposed by strangers and not to recharge mobile phone accounts of unknown individuals.

Police said they clarified these reports first through police intelligence department before raiding the cells.

When asked how inmates were able to smuggle illegal substances into prison, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Hanim said he had not yet received details on the operation.

The police said they have previously issued statements to increase awareness among the public regarding such crimes, and said it was regrettable that not enough cooperation is being received from the people to stop these types of crimes.

In March 2010, the then-State Minister for Home Affairs Ahmed Adil said that jail officers were being investigated on suspicion of helping inmates bring mobile phones and drugs into cells in Male’ prison.

In May 2011, the then-Head of Department and Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS) Mohamed Rasheed  confirmed that a police officer was being questioned for allegedly attempting to smuggle charged phone batteries to inmates at Maafushi prison.


Three prison guards convicted over Maafushi riot shooting sent back to prison

Three former prison guards sentenced to death by the former administration for shooting at inmates during a prison riot in 2003 have been returned to jail after they were found to be living at large.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that police had received reports that those found guilty were at large and had been handed over to the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Services (DPRS). He referred Minivan News to the Home Ministry for further information.

Home Minister Hassan Afeef referred Minivan News to the DPRS, while the DPRS referred Minivan News to State Home Minister Mohamed Naeem.

Naeem told Minivan News that the relevant documents showed that 12 of the 13 found guilty were sentenced to death, but former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, using Presidential privileges, had commuted their sentence to a 25 year imprisonment.

‘’The 13th person was the head of the prison – he was found guilty but was granted clemency by the High Court, which was allowed according to the then blue constitution,’’ said Naeem. ‘’It was unfair, and violated the rights of many. How come the former President could grant clemency to the head of prisons who ordered the shooting, but imprisoned the officers who did the shooting?’’

Naeem said the documents at the Home Ministry showed that the 12 officers were at first kept in Maafushi Prison until the new prison head sent a letter to the-then Home Minister Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – now the leader of the opposition – that it was unsafe for the 12 to be among the other inmates.

‘’They were then transferred to Dhoonidhoo Prison, and after two months again a letter was sent to Thasmeen from the then Deputy Police Commission saying that there was no lawful grounds for keeping convicts in Dhoonidhoo to implement verdicts,’’ he said. ‘’And that was the end of the document trail. We do not know what Thasmeen said in reply, or how they managed to stay at large.’’

Thasmeen did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Naeem said he regretted that the Home Ministry was obliged to send the convicted officers back to prison after such a long time.

‘’They have wives, kids and families, but this had to happen because of the former administration. If they had not freed them from prison, by now they would have served most of their sentence and could have even possibly apply for clemency,’’ Naeem said. ‘’But there is no other choice – it is our legal responsibility to implement verdicts, whoever it is.’’

Naeem said the action of the former administration had not only violated the rights of those found guilty, but also those of the victims.

‘’When the victims who survived that time see these convicted people roaming around the streets, how do they feel? It is unfair for them,’’ he said.