Four police officers promoted to assistant commissioner rank

Four police chief superintendents were promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner of police yesterday.

The four new assistant commissioners are Abdulla Nawaz, Abdul Rahman Yoosuf, Ahmed Mohamed Ismail and Mohamed Jamsheed.

Mohamed Jamsheed has also been appointed the new head of police intelligence.

The former intelligence chief, assistant commissioner Ahmed Arif, was appointed as the head of the development directorate. The post was previously held by Jamsheed.

A police media official told Minivan News that the promotions were routine and that positions are changed whenever a term expires.


Police reveal details of record drugs seizure

Police have released detailed information of the special operation conducted to seize 24kgs of heroin smuggled into the Maldives using an Iranian vessel last month.

A police officer implicated in the crime as well as the 11 Pakistani nationals on the Iranian vessel were among the 18 persons arrested in connection with the case.

In the statement the police said that officers involved in the operation experienced things that they had never experienced before, and it was noted that the police officers aboard the speedboat were not carrying any weapons.

Police said that officers involved in the operation first followed two Maldivians who went to Villimalé on March 4 where the Maldivian boat the ‘Violet’ was prepared to set sail to meet an Iranian vessel which had journeyed from Chahabar, Iran.

When the two Maldivians reached the boat docked in Villimalé harbour, the boat captain and three expats working on board had already made all preparations to set sail towards North Ari atoll at around 3:30pm.

Police officers were assigned to follow the ‘Violet’ on a gulf craft speedboat as it left Malé with intercepted communications revealing that the Maldivian boat planned to meet with the Iranian craft at 11pm that evening.

The boat reached North Ari atoll at 6:15pm, stopping in the ocean between Rasdhoo and Mathiveri, before making its first trip to meet the Iranian vessel at 3:30am in the morning.

According to police, the meeting point of the Iranian vessel and the ‘Violet’ was 30 nautical miles north of North Ari atoll. The Maldivian boat travelled outside the EEZ of the Maldives in heavy rain and rough seas with the police speedboat following throughout.

When the ‘Violet’ reached the meeting point, its crew was informed that the Iranian ship was still 450 miles away from the meeting point, and that they will take 56 hours to get there. The ‘Violet’ subsequently returned to North Ari atoll.

Police said the two men police originally followed subsequently returned to Malé, contacting their agent in Iran at 11:30pm to get details regarding the next attempted rendezvous.

The following day, as the ‘Violet’ refueled in preparation for its second trip to meet the Iranian vessel, the two Maldivians suspects attempted to transfer money to agents in Iran.

Police have revealed that the money was transferred by a member of the Maldives Police Service who has subsequently been arrested in connection with the case.

The next day ‘Violet’ travelled on the same route as before, again stopping between Ukulhas and Mathiveri, before being contacted at 12:45am by the Iranian ship which explained that it was 200 miles from the meeting point.

After receiving this news, the Maldivian boat travelled towards Baa Atoll – outside Maldivian territorial waters – and waited there until the Iranian vessel informed the crew that the drugs were hidden inside a small dingy in the Iranian vessel.

The following day (March 9) the Maldivian vessel reached the meeting point, but again had to wait for the Iranian vessel to get there the next morning.

When the two boats met the the Maldivian boat took a small dingy released by the Iranian vessel and began its trip back to Malé late in the afternoon of March 10, the police statement said.

Upon their arrival in Hulhumale’ that evening, all aboard ‘Violet’ were arrested and the drugs seized.

After collecting enough information to begin the operation, police assigned 16 officers to follow ‘Violet’: five intelligence officers were based in Mathiveri Island, a surveillance team consisting on seven officers was created.

Eight intelligence officers were assigned as a ground analysis team, and a further five were assigned as ground technical team. Three intelligence officers were assigned as covert team and two others were used to trace communications, the police statement revealed.


Civil Court orders police to reinstate Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed

The Civil Court has ordered the police to reinstate former Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed – one time head of police intelligence – who was dismissed by the institution’s Disciplinary Committee in August 2012.

The court ruling issued today on Hameed’s case declared that he was to be reinstated within 15 days of the order.  He is also to be given back payment of his salary within 30 days.

Hameed today told Minivan News that he understood the court order had called for his reinstatement to a rank equal to that which he held at the time of his dismissal.

The Police Disciplinary Board decided to relieve Hameed and Superintendent Ibrahim Adhnan of duty and to demote Superintendent ‘Lady’ Ibrahim Manik to Chief Inspector of Police, and to remove the disciplinary badge on his uniform.

Newspaper Haveeru at the time claimed that the decision was made by the Disciplinary Board on allegations that the three officers had “worked for the political benefit of a certain party” using their police roles.

Hameed, Adhnan and ‘Lady’ Ibrahim Manik were among only a few police senior officers who did not join the events of February 7, which saw mutinying police officers hand out riot gear to opposition demonstrators and launch an all-out assault on the main military headquarters. The state broadcaster was also stormed during the time of the contraversial transfer of power.


Boat captain arrested in connection with two kilograms of drugs discovered on ‘MSV Maria Janemal’

Maldives Customs have seized two kilograms of illegal narcotics smuggled into the Maldives by an Indian cargo vessel named MSV Maria Janemal.

According to a statement issued by the customs department, the drugs were packed into four packets.

Three of the packets contained 2105 grams of heroin and the fourth packet contained 85 grams of hashish oil, according to the customs department.

The customs department said the drugs were hidden in two location of the cargo vessel.

“The captain of the boat and the seized drugs have now been handed over to the police for further investigation,” the customs department said in the statement.

The customs department said that the drugs were seized on February 23 in an operation conducted based on intelligence reports.

According to the customs department, all the passengers of the vessel were Indian nationals and were still under customs charge.

Customs said the boat arrived to the Maldives on February 16, carrying fruits and vegetables from India to be imported to the Maldives.

On November 27 last year, police seized a local drug network and arrested five Maldivians and four Indians while they were in possession of 9 kilograms of illegal substances.

The men were arrested after they arrived in the Maldives aboard a cargo boat named ‘Silver Cloud 49’, a vessel carrying goods from India to the Maldives that had just unloaded eggs, potatoes and onions from Tuticorin port in India.

In May last year, the Police Drug Enforcement Department (DED) have busted a large drug network they alleged centered around a 56 year-old man working on the cargo vessel ‘MV Reina’, and seized a large quantity of cannabis and illegal drugs trafficked into the country.


Increase in Chinese presence in Maldives IT sector sparks Indian concern

Indian authorities have expressed concern over China’s expanding influence in the IT and telecom sectors in the Maldives, Indian media has reported.

The Indian Ministry of Communications and IT, along with security agencies in India, have now agreed that Beijing’s state-owned companies should be “kept at bay” from Maldives’ IT and telecom sectors, The Hindu reported.

Indian intelligence agencies were alerted to the issue after the Maldives requested a soft loan of US$54 million for an IT infrastructure project from China

The Ministry has suggested the Indian government plan a substantial investment in the Maldives along similar projects to ensure telecom traffic between India and Maldives is handled through equipment the Indian government has confidence in.

“The Government… may also plan substantial investment in the Maldives on similar projects [as being planned by China] ensuring that the traffic between India and the Maldives is handled through the equipment installed and commissioned in the Maldives by India,” read internal government note, according to Indian newspaper the Hindu.

The Sri Lankan subsidiary of Chinese telecom equipment-maker Huawei Technologies has already signed an agreement with Maldives’ National Centre of Information Technologies to develop IT infrastructure under the ‘Smart Maldives Project’, Indian media stated.

“The proposed project assumes significance due to the fact that China can capitalise its influence over the Maldives to utilise the latter’s network once the project is implemented,” the Indian Reasearch & Analysis Wing said in an internal note as reported by the Hindu.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from Indian Minister for Communications & Information Technology Shri Kapil Sibal and Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid at time of press.

Former Transport and Communications Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed claimed the issue of Chinese involvement in the Maldivian IT sector had been raised by Indian officials in the past.

Shamheed said that a ‘smart card’ project that had been signed between China and Nasheed’s government to replace the National ID cards had sparked interest from the Indian government.

“The Indian High Commissioner in the Maldives once suggested to me that [the Chinese] would steal all of our government’s data should we work with them.

“The deal with the Chinese was that they would provide us with smart cards which will replace our current ID cards. When this happened, the Indian government wanted to provide us with their own system instead of the Chinese one,” Shamheed told Minivan News.

Acting Minister of Transport and Communications Mohamed Nazim was not responding to calls at time of press.

Defence Minister visits China

Last month (December 10, 2012) Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim departed to China on an official five-day visit at the invitation of the Chinese Minister of National Defence.

The move fuelled speculation in the Indian media of a Chinese role in the government’s decision to void the agreement and evict the GMR-led consortium that took place two days prior to the visit in December.

“Looking at the political situation and political framework in Maldives, I can’t rule out anything,” GMR Airports chief financial officer (CFO) Sidharth Kapur told journalists in New Delhi in December.

Following official talks between the defence ministers, Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency reported in December that Nazim assured Chinese Minister of National Defence General Liang Guanglie that the Maldives was “willing to cement relations between the two countries and their militaries.”

Chinese companies discuss Maldives’ satellite slot

Former Minister of Communication Dr Ahmed Shamheed told Minivan News in December 2012 that Defence Minister Nazim had met with two Chinese companies interested in operating a satellite designated for the Maldives.

Under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Maldives could be entitled to an “orbital slot” for a satellite.

Because the Maldives’ lacks the capabilities to launch and operate a satellite, the state would have to lease it out to an external party, Shamheed said.

According to Shamheed, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim had already been approached by various Chinese companies who have expressed interest in the satellite venture.

“At first, I had been involved in casual meetings with these companies, but now it seems to getting more serious. Nazim had even questioned as to why we have not yet signed an agreement with them,” Shamheed alleged.


Arrest of intelligence chief sign of “growing paranoia”: MDP

Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has issued a statement condemning the arrest of police whistleblowers who cooperated with the production of its report into the controversial transfer of power of February 7.

Police head of intelligence, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, was arrested on Thursday and detained on Dhoonidhoo.

A police statement alleged that Chief Superintendent Hameed “distributed information obtained pertinent to his tenure as Head of the Intelligence Department, police matters and internal security, along with [providing] misleading information to certain individuals for reaping benefit out of it to drive rift within police officers and the community.”

He was presented to the Criminal Court that afternoon, which extended his detention period by five days. Hameed’s family have appealed the case in the High Court, arguing that his pretrial detention period was extended in violation of the law as Hameed was arrested over a disciplinary issue and not a criminal offence.

Hameed’s lawyer told the court that there were police officers accused of more serious crimes who had not been detained, alleging that in one instance a senior police officer stood accused of attempting to rape a woman and in another incident, influence a judge in a case involving the police officer’s interest.

His lawyer argued that the Criminal Court judge had extended Hameed’s detention period not based on what the police told the judge, but based on the judge’s own view, and that therefore Hameed had lost the right to respond to the accusations.

In response, the prosecution lawyer said that Hameed was accused not of a disciplinary issue but a criminal offence, and contended that the Criminal Court judge had declared Hameed a threat to society because police told the judge he might seek to influence evidence.

He also noted that the matter involving the police officer accused of rape had been sent to the Prosecutor General’s office.

Several other officers were also reported to have been detained last week, however Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said Hameed was the only officer formally arrested.

The MDP held protests over the weekend calling for Hameed’s release, while a Hameed’s family have appealed the case in the High Court, and said the court was due to issue a verdict later on Sunday evening.

In a statement, MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the arrest of the Chief Superintendent was “further evidence of the Maldives’ rapid descent into a police state.”

“Brave men and women who wish to stand up for the rule of law, for democracy and for human rights are today subjected to constant threats and intimidation. This purge of police officers who the Government considers possible opponents demonstrates President Waheed’s growing paranoia and the fact that his coalition Government are determined to rule by fear,” Ghafoor said.

“MDP calls on the EU, the US, the UN Human Rights Council and others to urgently enquire into the well-being of these police officers and to hold this illegal government accountable for their growing use of violence and intimidation for political means,” he added.

President’s Office Spokespersons Masood Imad and Abbas Adil Riza were not responding at time of press.