28-year-old man stabbed to death in gang-related violence

A 28-year-old was stabbed to death in the capital Malé in the early hours of this morning (December 7) near the People’s Majlis.

Local media identified the man as Ahmed Mafaz also known as ‘Masodi Mafaa’ from Seenu Maradhoo Island. Haveeru reported Mafaz as belonging to the Masodi gang.

A Maldives Police Service (MPS) media statement read that Mafaz died at ADK hospital while being given emergency treatment for numerous stab wounds including fatal cuts in his neck and shoulders.

An MPS official told Minivan News that the stabbing case was reported to the police at around 1.45am and that the police officers at the scene took Mafaz to the hospital after stopping a taxi on the street.

An eyewitness told online news outlet Vaguthu that he saw two men stabbing and beating up Mafaz near the Alora furniture store while another group of people wielding machetes and other sharp weapons were banging on door of  a building used by the Masodi gang’s nearby, threatening to kill everyone inside.

Haveeru commented that the injuries appeared to be even more severe than those inflicted upon Ungoofaaru MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, whose brutal murder shocked the Maldives in October 2012.

In a tweet today, former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the President Abdulla Yameen’s government of failing to investigate violent crimes.

“Over 20 cases of knife attacks and 7 murdered in such attacks this year. President Yamin’s Govt has failed to investigate these crimes,” read the tweet

While speaking at a rally held to celebrate the first anniversary of the current government, President Yameen said that his administration has established peace and order in the country.

“We have peace and order in Malé and all regions of Maldives. We have peace. However, this is not to say that isolated and significant dangerous crimes do not occur,” said President Yameen.

“Saving the Maldives from these big atrocities is the biggest aim of this government,” he added.

He also pledged to implement the death penalty – reintroduced under his government – for the sake of human rights and dignity.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern over rising insecurity while claiming that the current administration has failed to protect right to life and security during its first year in office.

The MDP highlighted Yameen’s failure to find missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan. An investigation into the disappearance by a UK based private investigation firm concluded that radicalised gangs were the most likely suspects in his disappearance.

Meanwhile, ruling Progressive Party of Maldives have submitted amendments to the law prohibiting possession of dangerous weapons – a move which some civil society groups say violates constitutional rights such as the right to remain silent and to retain legal counsel.

A joint statement by Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urged the parliament to withhold from passing the amendments saying that it would “absolutely violate rather than limit fundamental rights of the people”.

The amendment bill states that suspects arrested for assault with sharp objects or dangerous weapons will not be able to exercise the right to remain silent “to any extent”.

Police could also question the suspect if he or she is either unable to have an attorney present within six hours, or waives the right to retain legal counsel.

Moreover, the suspect could only consult a lawyer in the presence of a police officer for the first 96 hours after the arrest.

The government’s intention to narrow constitutional rights came after a spate of violent assaults in the capital – which police said were a series of gang reprisals.


Five injured in spate of street violence in Malé

Four men and a woman sustained serious injuries in four separate incidents of violence in Malé City on Monday and Tuesday, the Maldives Police Services have said.

The first incident took place near the Eid Mosque in Maafannu ward around 7:40pm. Muggers attacked a pedestrian from the back and demanded he hand over his mobile phone. The man was hit on the back of his head, police said.

Minutes later at 7:45pm, two men were attacked in Malé’s suburb Hulhumalé Island near Flat no. 60. One of the men was stabbed in the shoulder and the other was stabbed in his head, the police said.

At 8pm, two masked men on motorbikes stabbed a 23-year-old woman in the back in front of a known gang hangout at the junction of Kalhuhuraa Magu and Husnuheena Magu in Malé. The ADK Hospital in Malé said the woman had suffered serious injuries.

An 18-year-old was also stabbed in the back in Heinveiru ward of Malé at 8:40pm on Monday.

All five have been hospitalised.

Police said they do not know if the attacks were connected and declined to reveal further details.

According to the police no arrests have been made yet. However, police have confiscated a motorbike in connection with the attack on two men in Hulhumalé.

Police statistics reveal 95 incidents of assault reported in July alone. The number brings up the total number of assault cases to 697 this year. Approximately 1500 cases of assault are reported annually in the Maldives, of which a majority occur in Malé.

A 2009 study by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) has identified a weak criminal justice system to be the root cause of high crime rates in the Maldives. The HRCM said delays in court processes, failure by law enforcement agencies to implement sentences and failure to prosecute drug traffickers also contribute to growing crime rates.

The study also highlighted social factors such as a housing crisis, lack of employment opportunities, and lack of entertainment facilities for young people as a driver of crime.

Approximately 43 percent of respondents in the HRCM survey said they did not feel safe in their Malé homes, while 63 percent said they do not feel safe walking alone on the streets of Malé during daylight hours.


Police alleged to have used tear gas in Masodige raid

The mother of a man who was arrested in a police raid on Galolhu Masodige on Friday night has claimed that officers threw a two tear gas canisters into a house containing a three month old child and a five year old girl.

Fahmeedha Shakeeb alleged police entered the building without a court warrant to arrest her son, Ihusaanudheen Rasheed, for alleged assault of a 23 year old man.

”The police force arrived at Masodige to arrest my son and broke into the house,” she claimed. “My son asked them whether they had a court warrant to enter the house, but they said they did not so my son asked them to leave the house if they did not have a warrant.”

Shakeeb claimed police officers then threw a tear gas canister into the building despite her protestations that there were women and small children in the building.

“My son came downstairs and surrendered himself to the police. [During the fighting afterwards] the officers attacked him and his friends who were inside the house, using batons and pepper spray inside the house,” she said. “After he was taken outside the house along with his friends who were also arrested, an officer threw another tear gas canister into the house which affected my three month old grandchild, a five year old girl and their mother.”

She claimed the baby was already in a critical medical condition after being born prematurely, and had to be taken to the hospital after the incident.

”The five year-old also had breathing difficulties, she vomited that night and the police actions had caused her to suffer distress, imagine what it would be like to a child to see a police force armed with batons,” she said.

Shakeeb alleged that police had a “personal grudge” against Ihusan after he resigned from the police force.

Police have previously raided the property in relation to stabbing incidents in Male’, and in June last year knocked down the exterior wall after allegedly discovering a cache of weapons.

”We have been raided police for more than once, but what can we do, because we are poor people nobody cares, the police do whatever they want to do,” Shakeeb claimed. “I did not say anything to the police, but all I said was that they cannot enter the house if they did not have a court warrant.”

Shakeeb claimed that last time police arrived at the house to arrest her son she tried to clarify what happened and when she questioned a police officer she was pushed to the ground.

”After that I don’t go near police officers who come to raid our house, they will do whatever they want and we cannot do anything,” she claimed.

She also alleged that the police officers used foul language in front of the children, and that one of the officers referred to her as ”Nagoobalha” .

A witness to the raid also told Minivan News that police threw tear gas canisters into the house while the children were inside.

”A Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Councillor carried the baby to his house, and a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer passing by also stopped by and told the police that they should not do that, he was in MNDF official uniform,” the witness said.

”That happened near my house and I was there too, I saw injured people being dragged out of Masodige and thrown into a police vehicle,” he said.

Another person familiar with the matter told Minivan News that a police officer who was a close friend of Masodi gang phoned him while Ihusan was taken to Dhoonidhoo on a police speed boat, and alleged that police were about to give Ihusan an electric shock “to control him”.

”The police officer later told me that he fainted on the boat after the electric shock and was taken to hospital,” the person alleged.

A police source told Minivan News that the use of electricity to subdue Ihusan was “definitely not true” as there were no such electrical devices available to officers.

The source said that officers were called to the scene to “rescue” a 23-year-old man who was being attacked, allegedly by members of the Masodi gang. The three officers were attacked on arrival, and called for reinforcements. The reinforcements were also attacked, and resorted to using tear gas.

The police source could not confirm that tear gas had been used.

In addition, the source said that it was not necessary to have a court order to enter a property in such a situation, “as police are well within their right to use force when attacked.”

The source said no reports of a woman or child being affected by the raid had been received, but if there were any involved who wished to file a complaint could approach a number of services, including the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

Twelve individuals were arrested during in the raid, including three minors. The source said the minors might have been associated with the Masodi gang.

The source also told Minivan News that three police officers were injured in the raid, and that one officer was subsequently sent abroad for medical treatment.

Head of the Police Integrity Commission Shahindha Ismail told Minivan News that the commission had received no complaints regarding the raid. The family affected said they had no intention to make a complaint.