PPM accuses government of setting Luthfee free from prison

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has alleged that the government has set free Abdull Luthfee, who was sentenced to life during the time of Former President, for playing a senior role in the November 3 coup attempt in 1988.

Former Deputy Leader of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party [DRP] and current interim council member of PPM Umar Naseer yesterday held a press meeting and told the media that the government has said that Luthfee went to Sri Lanka for medical purposes and escaped.

Luthfee, Umar said, did not escape but was ‘escaped’ with the assistance of the government and alleged that the government have been still supporting his stay at Sri Lanka.

Umar said it has been years after he left for medical purposes and added that the government has not even tried to look for him.

He said he was not astonished that the government has not searched for him because one of President Mohamed Nasheed’s brothers-in-law was also a senior figure in the November 3 attack.

‘’The PPM will very seriously look in to this issue of government letting a senior figure involved in the November 3 coup attempt in which 19 Maldivians were killed escape,’’ said Umar, adding that many other figures involved in the November 3 attack were currently filling senior government posts.

Sri Lankan newspaper The Island reported Luthfee as saying on the 23rd anniversary of the November 3 coup attempt, “I wanted to get rid of [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom at any cost. As the election process in my country never gave a reasonable opportunity to the opposition, I felt an outside force should be used to oust Gayoom,”

In May this year, before the PPM was created and supporters of Gayoom were in Dhivehi Rayiithunge Party as a faction, Gayoom’s faction of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) protested outside the Prosecutor General’s Office and marched through the streets of Male’  with coffins, demanding justice for the martyrs who died in the November 3 coup attempt.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair denied the allegations and referred Minivan News to State Home Minister  Mohamed ‘Monazer’ Naeem for more details.

Naeem said that Government will never help a detainee escape and denied the allegations made by PPM.

‘’The Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service [DPRS] will not hold anyone in detention if a doctor advises to send an inmate abroad for medical reasons, but that does not mean that we are making way for him to escape,’’ Naeem explained.

He said anyone can point fingers at the DPRS or Home Ministry.

‘’We are confident that no staff or anyone here will held him to escape,’’ he added.


State Home Minister calls on HRCM to be “honest and fair” over second chance programme

State Home Minister Mohamed ‘Monaza’ Naeem has denied allegations made by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) that the ministry is obstructing the investigation of cases involving inmates released under the government’s ‘second chance’ programme, and called on the organisation “to be honest and fair.”

HRCM recently met with the press and alleged that the government was releasing inmates who had committed offences such as theft, robbery and assault under the second chance programme, and that it was withholding information and obstructing the investigation.

Speaking at a press conference this afternoon at the Second Chance Programme Office, Naeem said that HRCM had requested the government send them details of the inmates released with their photographs and fingerprints.

Naeem said that the Home Ministry was trying to determine whether the HRCM had the legal authority to obtain fingerprints of the prisoners, because fingerprints were kept only for police purposes.

Naeem said he had met with commission members and briefed them about the second chance programme.

Furthermore, the State Minister said that the Ministry had been cooperating with the Human Rights Commission and called on the commission to treat everyone equally.

“HRCM said nothing about the incident that occurred near Alivaage, or following the death of an inmate in Maafushi prison,” Naeem said. “I personally called them and invited them to see the place where he died.”

An official from the Second Chance Programme told Minivan News that all inmates released were incarcerated for drug-related offences.

“To get drugs the drug addicts commit different crimes – they might steal something or commit a robbery,” he explained. “So far 304 inmates have been released and 17 of them have had to be returned to prison for breaking the rules of their release.”

He said all the inmates were released according to the law, and that the Second Chance Programme Office and police have been monitoring the inmates released.

“We randomly test urine of the inmates at least once a week,” he said. A number of inmates released under the programme have been taken back into custody after testing positive for drug use.