Adhaalath leader transferred to high security prison

The president of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran Abdulla was transferred from a police remand center to a high security prison on Thursday. He is charged with terrorism and is awaiting trial.

A Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) media official told Minivan News the transfer is legal because “according to the law suspects at remand stage awaiting sentencing are the MCS’s responsibility.”

Suspects awaiting trial are usually kept at the Dhoonidhoo Island Detention Center, and only convicts are housed at the high security prison on Maafushi Island.

Expressing concern over the move, Imran’s lawyer Ali Zahir, said: “This is not what they usually do. Imran has been in remand stage for some time now. He is not a convict and his trial is still ongoing.”

The transfer signals a reversal of the government’s conciliatory stance on making concessions for jailed politicians.

Instead of freeing former president Mohamed Nasheed as rumored on Thursday, the state decided to appeal his 13-year jail term on terrorism charges. Meanwhile, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, who is serving a jail term on weapons smuggling charges, was brought to Malé for treatment on Thursday amidst rumors he may be transferred to house arrest, but he was taken back to prison on the same day.

Imran is charged with terrorism along with Jumhooree Party (JP) deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and council member Sobah Rasheed. Ameen and Sobah have fled the Maldives.

The three are charged with threatening to harm police officers and inciting violence at the May Day protest. Charges were pressed under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act.

So far only one hearing has taken place in Imran’s trial. He has denied charges. The trial has been stalled since early June after two of the three judges on the criminal court were appointed to the High Court.

The High Court in late May rejected an appeal challenging the criminal court’s decision to hold Imran in police custody until the conclusion of his trial, claiming it could not review decisions of judges to hold defendants in custody for the duration of a trial.

The Adhaalath Party has meanwhile said that Imran’s health is worsening under police custody.  He has been brought to Malé several times to consult specialist doctors.

On June 21, the party said that Imran has diabetes and high blood pressure. Tests conducted after his arrest show high blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as high urine acidity.

He is also suffering back pains as a result of having to sleep on a hard surface, the statement added.

Imran’s continuing incarceration is a “planned and shameful atrocity carried out to psychologically and physically weaken him,” the Adhaalath Party said.

The party also said Imran’s wife has written to the home minister and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives to express concern over his health.

Imran was first arrested on the night of May 1 and held in remand detention for 26 days. Hours before the criminal court ordered his release on May 27, the High Court overturned the criminal court’s May 17 ruling to keep Imran in police custody for 10 days.

The appellate court ordered his transfer to house arrest, noting that Imran has diabetes and that tests conducted following his arrest showed high levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, and urine acidity.

A doctor had also recommended that Imran should not sleep on hard surfaces due to a spinal injury.

Imran was arrested again on the night of June 1, a day before the terrorism trial began.


Police barred May Day detainee from his father’s funeral prayers

The police prevented a man arrested from the opposition’s anti-government protest on May 1 from going to his father’s funeral prayers.

Abdulla Fahmy, a 48-year-old fisherman, said he had traveled from Gaaf Alif Kolamaafushi to Malé in March to get medical care for his elderly father, who was suffering from heart, kidney and lung issues.

Fahmy’s father was hospitalised at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in March.

Although Fahmy is a member of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, he said he had not participated in the protest. He had gone to the Bandaara mosque near the Supreme Court for dusk prayers when he saw hundreds of protesters marching towards the restricted Republic Square.

“I only come to Malé once in six years or three years. How can I participate in a protest?” he said.

A police vehicle arrived and set up barricades at the corner of the mosque, and dozens of protesters entered the mosque. Police ordered the protesters to leave the area and pepper sprayed many outside the mosque.

Fahmy was arrested along with several others.

“I showed them the hospital pass I use to enter my father’s ward at the IGMH. But they refused to listen to me,” he told Minivan News.

He was handcuffed and taken to the detention centre on Dhoonidhoo Island. Some 193 protesters were arrested on May Day. Nearly 20,000 people participated in the rally and called for the release of jailed ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

Violent clashes broke out between protesters and police soon afterwards.

The next day, the criminal court granted a blanket remand 15-days for 173 of the 193 protesters.

On May 4, Fahmy was brought to Malé around noon and taken to the cemetery in handcuffs and police officers told him his father had passed away.

“I was only allowed to see my father’s face for ten minutes. They removed my cuffs, but I was flanked by police officers when I went inside the cemetery and was told I could not talk to my family members. I begged the police to let me participate in the funeral prayers, but they refused,” he said.

Fahmy was then taken to the Atholhuvehi station in Malé, “For one hour I begged them to allow me to go to the prayers.” But he was taken back to Dhoonidhoo.

In Dhoonidhoo, his 25 cellmates held a prayer for Fahmy’s father.

One cellmate told Minivan News that Fahmy “was broken into pieces,” when he came back to Dhoonidhoo.

On the seventh day, Fahmy was released and is now back in Kolamafushi.

He had been arrested on charges of disobedience to order, but he said police later accused him of throwing rocks. He has denied the charges.

The Prosecutor General’s office said police had asked for charges to be filed against Fahmy, but the case has been sent back to the police for further clarification.

A police spokesperson initially said no arrests had taken place at the Bandaara Mosque, and asked for more time to check on the details of Fahmy’s case.

The police were not responding to calls at the time of going to press.

All of the May Day detainees have now been released. However, Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla and 14 people arrested on charges of assaulting police officers remain in custody.