Gayoom urges authorities to expedite justice in ‘politically motivated’ Afrasheem murder

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has this week said there could be no doubt that the murder of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali was a politically motivated attack, while calling for justice to be expedited against his alleged attackers.

No individual has yet been convicted of the killing of Afrasheem, who was found dead on the staircase of his home in Male’ on October 1, 2012.

A total of seven individuals are potentially facing charges in connection to the MP’s murder, with the trial of key suspect Hussein Humam currently ongoing at the Criminal Court.

Humam had initially denied charges against him in court.

He later confessed to the crime at a hearing held in May, according to a statement read out by prosecutors in the court. State prosecutors read out the statement, which was said to have been given by Humam at one of the initial hearings. The suspect retracted his confession a month later, claiming that he had been coerced by police at the time.

Humam’s father has also written to the Criminal Court and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives accusing police of conducting psychological abuse against the suspect, and exerting coercion to make him confess to a crime he did not commit.

One year later

Speaking Wednesday (October 2) at a rally to mark a year since Dr Afrasheem’s death, Gayoom was quoted in local newspaper Haveeru as saying that society remained in a state of fear as a result of the MP’s “politically motivated” killing.

“This was a clear message to our nation. It means that anyone who dares to speak up will suffer the same fate,” said the country’s one-time autocratic ruler, who was in power for 30 years until the Maldives’ first multi-party democratic elections in 2008.

Police have meanwhile confirmed this week that cases had been filed with the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) against Azleef Rauf, Shaahin Mohamed, Adam Salaah and Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid – son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chair ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik in connection to the murder.

Despite not a single trial related to the murder having yet been concluded, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan confirmed that former President Gayoom had claimed there was a political motive to Afrasheem’s attack.

However, Nihan said Gayoom had not identified any one party or culprit in particular for the crime.

“[Gayoom] said the murder of Afrasheem was connected to politics and that such attacks should be eliminated and solved or they will begin to be copied by the public,” he said.

Nihan said that like Gayoom, he believed that since police had begun their investigations into the attack, they had uncovered enough evidence to suggest the murder had been carried out for political reasons.

He claimed that the PPM had purposefully avoided “finger pointing” of any particular party, but criticised politicians within the opposition MDP for making statements in an attempt to undermine the credibility of the police investigation into the case.

Nihan said that the country’s MPs had a responsibility to minimise doubt among the public concerning the conduct of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) in investigating the murder, adding it was important society have faith in law enforcement officials to solve the case.

Police investigation

The Maldives Police Services (MPS) announced in October 2012 that the FBI were extending assistance in the investigation of the MPs murder.

By December, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz stated during a press conference that the murder of Afrasheem had been carried out with a political motive, and that the culprits were to be paid MVR 4 million (US$ 260,000).

Riyaz had at the time dismissed claims that the murder was linked to religious fundamentalists, stating “no evidence has been gathered which suggests this murder had a religious motive.”

Soon after the murder police arrested two MDP activists – Mariyam Naifa and Ali Hashim ‘Smith’ – in connection with the attack. Both suspects were later released without charge.

The MDP later accused the government of attempting to frame the party with “politically-motivated arrests” of its members. In November 2012, former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the government of negligence in its efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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Chief suspect in Afrasheem case changes testimony, confesses to MP’s murder

The chief suspect in the MP Dr Afrasheem Ali murder case has confessed to the crime in Criminal Court today, after previously denying his involvement in the attack earlier this month.

Hussain Humam, of Male’s Henveiru Lobby, told the court today (May 22) that he carried out the fatal attack on Afrasheem with the help of Ali Shan of Male’s Henveiru Hikost, and that the juvenile suspect in the case was also present.

Earlier this month, Humam confessed in court to multiple stabbings, robberies and at least one murder, but denied murdering the MP.

State prosecutors told the court that Dr Afrasheem’s DNA was found on the jeans Humam was wearing that night, local media reported.

During the court hearing today, Humam was given the opportunity to respond to the evidence produced against him.

Humam told the judge that “now that this is very clear I have nothing to say.” When the judge queried as to whether he was confessing, Humam replied “yes”.

The prosecution lawyers produced the statement Humam gave on December 7, 2012, when he was brought before the court to extend his pre-trial detention period, the statement given by the minor arrested in connection with the case, evidence supporting that Humam went to Dr Afrasheem’s house that night, evidences of Humam’s attack and evidence that Dr Afrasheem died of injuries caused to his body from the attack.

The prosecution told the court that the statement given by the minor and the statement given by Humam on December 7 matched the evidence, and told the court that Dr Afrasheem’s DNA samples were obtained from the jeans worn by Humam the night of Dr Afrasheem’s death.

The prosecution also said that there were witnesses who wanted to testify in court that they had learned Humam and a group of people had planned to murder Dr Afrasheem. The lawyers requested the judge keep the witnesses statements closed to the public.

When the judge asked Humam for his response was, he replied that he had already spoken of how Dr Afrasheem’s murder was carried out, and requested the judge to read out his statement given on December 7.

Humam then said that the idea of killing Dr Afrasheem was given to him by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer Azleef Rauf, who he met at the a baibalaa tournament held in 2012.

He said that at the baibalaa tournament Azleef had asked him not to get arrested, and that night sent him to pick up a kilogram of drugs from the airport that were smuggled in to the country by a Pakistani man. He said he dropped the drugs off to the house where a person he identified as ‘Mukkar’ lived.

Humam said he did it because Azleef had told him he would get half of the profit from selling it.

He said he was later sent by Azleef to Velidhoo island in Noonu Atoll to sell drugs, but the drugs they took did not sell and so he took it himself with a group of friends on the island.

Humam said he stayed on Velidhoo for three weeks and came back to Male’ on September 25, after Azleef called and asked him to come back.

According to Humam, after he came to Male’ he was invited to a coffee with Azleef, Javid and his brother ‘Jana’, where Azleef said that “I promise you will get MVR4 million if you murder Dr Afrasheem,” to which Javid’s brother ‘Jana’ replied “yes you will.”

Humam told the court that later he had met with a person called ‘Spy’ and Azleef where he asked them why he had to attack Afrasheem.

He said that they replied that one of the reasons they had to get rid of Dr Afrasheem was the remarks he made the day former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned.

Humam said Azleef had provided him with an identity card and money to buy SIM cards and mobile phones.

According to Humam, during that meeting ‘Spy’ and Azleef told him that they would meet again after Afrasheem had been murdered.

He said that on the evening of October 1, the night Afrasheem was killed, he went near the MP’s house to take a look after Azleef had asked him to do so.

The weapons and tools used in the attack were hidden in the house of a person called ‘Nangi’, Humam said.

He said he called ‘Nangi’ that night and asked him and Ali Shan [the second suspect charged with the murder] to come to his house.

When Shan and Humam went to Nangi’s house he came out with a big black dustbin bag which had jeans, tshirts, gloves, a machete and a bayonet knife.

The three of them went to the Henveiru park, got changed inside the park, and walked to Dr Afrasheem’s house. Humam said he waited inside the house for Shan to signal, who was waiting outside.

He said after a while Shan came inside and told him that Afrasheem was on the way, and 10 seconds later Afrasheem entered the house.

He said he then attacked Afrasheem with the machete and he felt to the ground, and then Shan came and attacked him with the bayonet knife.

Humam said he left the scene with Shan on a motorbike and stopped at the Shaheed Ali Mosque to wash his hands because he had blood on his jeans and tshirt.

He said he then went back to Henveiru Park and got changed again, and went to the Blue Bay Café where he again washed his hands.

Then he went inside the Henveiru Football ground to lie down, where he fell asleep and woke up the next morning when Azleef called him.

He said he walked out of the football ground to the near the State Bank of India, where he was arrested.

Humam said he had not received any amount of money from the murder, but said Azleef told him that he had received MVR1 million in advance.

He said he had seen himself hanged in his dreams and had talked about this to police officers. He also confessed that he had sent notes to Azleef through people released from pre-trial detention, and had tried to produce evidence in his defence.

Humam stated that on Ocotber 1, he spent the whole day drinking alcohol and smoking hash oil and did not go home after 3:00pm. He said that he finished four bottles of alcohol and smoked lots of hash.

He said he initially denied to the charges before thinking about what might happen to his family. But he said now wished to apologise to Dr Afrasheem’s family and repent.

When the Judge asked if there was anything else he would like to say, he said he would like to request the judge not sentence him to death.

MP Afrasheem was stabbed to death on the night of October 1 2012. His body was discovered by his wife at the bottom of the stairs of their apartment building shortly after midnight.

Humam’s next court hearing date has not yet been decided, Criminal Court Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Manik told Minivan News today.

“A lot of procedures need to be completed prior to Humam’s next hearing,” said Manik. “Afrasheem’s family will be brought in to see what they want [in regard to whether they call for Humam to receive the death penalty].”

Shan’s Criminal Court case has yet to start.

It is unclear whether police intend to make additional arrests in light of Humam’s allegations.

Given that the investigation process is ongoing, the police will “reveal information as it progresses,” a police spokesperson told Minivan News today.

Earlier this May, the Juvenile Court sentenced a minor arrested in connection with Dr Afrasheem Ali’s murder to eight months imprisonment after the court found him guilty of misleading the police investigation.

Police Commissioner Abdullah Riyaz has previously claimed the child “deliberately misled” police by providing false information during their investigation into Afrasheem’s murder. The minor was the “lookout” during the stabbing and subsequent murder of the moderate Islamic scholar, Riyaz had alleged on December 4.

Rauf and Javid were also previously detained by police over their alleged involvement in the case. Both were later released by the court.

Javid spent 45 days in detention in connection to the Afrasheem murder, after which time at the time his lawyer argued his continued detention was unconstitutional given there was no evidence to support keeping him in custody.

On the day of Javid’s release (January 17), his brother Shahin Mohamed was taken away “without any warning” by police whilst waiting with Javid’s family outside of the court. Mohamed was released from police custody three hours after he was taken away by police.

In December last year the MDP accused the police of attempting to pin Afrasheem’s murder on its members, instead of going after those guilty of the crime.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has previously alleged that the murder of the MP was “well planned” and worth MVR 4 million (US$260,000), the same amount stated by Humam in court.

Humam’s confession closely follows a statement from the UN team in the Maldives calling for the abolition of the death penalty.

At the same time, a US State Department report into religious freedom released earlier this week noted that one of the “more prominent theories” about the murder of moderate Islamic scholar and parliamentarian Afrasheem Ali was “that violent extremists viewed Afrasheem’s very public moderate approach to Islam as apostasy and killed him to send a message to moderate Muslims that a strict interpretation of Islam is the only acceptable approach.”

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Police form gang task force, arrest three men for involvement in stabbing

Three men have been arrested for their alleged involvement in last Friday’s stabbing incident – the first in a succession of violent crimes in Male’ over several days –  prompting police to form a special task force for combating gang violence.

Police arrested Mohamed Kinaanath Ahmed, 28 years-old, of Lobby house in Male’s Henveiru neighborhood, Ahmed Shirhan Shameem, 21 years-old, from Kolhufushi Island in Meemu Atoll, and Assad Ibrahim Rasheed, 18, of Male’ Dhaftharu 7644, on “suspicion of stabbing Mohamed Shaifan” on Friday (May 17).

Kinaanath was previously released from jail under the ‘second chance’ program and is the older brother of Hussain Humaam. Humaam is currently being tried in the Criminal Court for his alleged connection to the murder of Ungoofaaru Constituency MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Shaifan was the first victim in a series of four stabbing incidents that occurred in Male’ over a 48 hour period, resulting in a total of five people injured as police continue to search for suspects.

The three suspects to have been arrested, as well as the five stabbing victims, all have police records “tying them” to theft, assault, and narcotics cases, a police spokesperson told Minivan News today (May 21).

Police have identified several additional suspects linked to the series of stabbings and are currently searching for the individuals, the official added.

“Gangs will be stopped”

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz told local media that gang reprisals are believed to be behind the recent series of stabbing attacks.

“Gangs will be stopped. We will do whatever it takes to bring the gangs to justice. The police will not back down in their efforts,” said Commissioner Riyaz.

The Police Services announced Monday (May 20) that a special task force has been created, under the Specialist Crime Command, to combat gang activity in the Maldives.

“The task force will address various activities, criminal or otherwise, carried out by groups of individuals who identify themselves as gangs. Additionally, it aims to take every action possible to curb gang activity to an extent that ensures safety and peace in the community.”

To fulfill its mandate, the special task force will monitor gang activity, investigate any unlawful actions carried out therein, attempt to hasten prosecution on such matters.

The now-active task force consists of members from the Forensics Directorate, Intelligence and Covert Policing Command, Information and Communication Directorate, Central Operations Command and Technical Police from the Divisional Operations Command of the Maldives Police Service.

“We have made great strides into the investigation of the recent violence. But we need a lot of assistance from the public to catch these perpetrators. So it is our sincere request for people to come forward with photographs or videos of the crimes,” Commissioner Riyaz added.

Dynamic local gangs

“The recent series of stabbings are quite worrying because there has been an absence of violent crime like this for some time,” former head of police intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed told Minivan News today.

“Now that we’ve seen five stabbing victims of violent crime, we might see one or two more incidents,” said Hameed.

“There are many locally known crime gangs of varying size and capacity. The way local crime gangs operate is quite dynamic,” he continued. “They individually carry out crimes in accordance with ‘others’ orders, instructions, and payments.”

“Gang rivalries have existed for a long time, it’s an everyday thing. The fact that these recent stabbings occurred during the daytime is not new [practice],” he added.

Hameed explained that previously, the police would know that a particular stabbing was carried out by a certain group, even if evidence was lacking, and the persons involved would be identified between 24 to 72 hours after an incident occurred.

Regarding the recent stabbings, Hameed said the incidents are probably retaliatory and inter-related based on what local media has reported. He also alleged that the three men that have been arrested are part of a gang based in Male’.

“I don’t understand the link between these three and Shaifan, but it’s quite possible,” he said.

“No effective policing approach”

“It’s also very worrying thing that policing, in Male’ especially, is not sustained well. There is not a clear approach to reduce and deal with violent crimes and criminals,” stated Hameed.

“Not being able to police Male’ – the most populated city in the country – due to the lack of an effective strategy and the disconnect between the key areas of criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and front line policing is a big issue,” he added.

In addition to the lack of a “very effective policing approach” to combat violent crime, low level crimes have not been addressed, according to Hameed.

“A lot of antisocial behavior goes unnoticed and unaddressed by the police, such as harassment and public nuisance. For example, girls of a very young age are harassed, even while walking with their families. Additionally, juveniles are seen under the influence of drugs and intoxicated in public,” he explained.

Hameed advocated that a strong, more integrated, holistic approach is needed that applies a broader strategy to effectively reduce crime.

“Increasing police officers physical presence, as well as effective targeting of high profile offenders and hotspots needs to be addressed,” Hameed said.

“Collaboration between criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and front line policing are three areas that have never worked that effectively,” he added.

These departments lack a common understanding of one another as well as streamlined “organisational engineering”, and are reluctant to collaborate, according to Hameed.

“To be more effective, key personnel from these departments must come together regularly, at the start of duty shifts, once daily, and weekly, to target, prioritise, and discuss arrangements to ensure a safe environment [for the public],” he suggested.

During former Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh’s time a gang task force was established, while former Police Deputy Commissioner Mohamed Rishwan developed a severe and organised crime strategy to proactively combat these issues, Hameed explained.

“We had a dedicated team, work space, facilities, and arrangements focused on gang criminals to reduce and prevent such violent crimes,” said Hameed.

“It was a more proactive approach, and we saw some success, but was not sustained [by the current government],” he continued.

“There are approximately 16 locations we identified as high risk hotspots [for gang activity] but those areas might have increased in the last year. If police regularly attend these locations, we might not see violent crimes,” he added.

While Hameed believes targeting high profile criminals is an effective strategy, he “can understand the police cannot always focus on these offenders given the current government situation involving protesters and the police getting called for ‘public order policing’,” he said.

“With the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections, police need to stick to their basic mission of keeping the peace. They need a very clear mandate, because it is also their duty to make sure violent crimes don’t affect the election environment making it unsafe to be out on the streets,” Hameed emphasised.

“After this government’s formation in 2012, the President’s Office came up with a crime prevention committee, which included all law enforcement [agencies] and [relevant] ministries, however we have yet to see results,” claims Hameed.

Four attacks and five victims in 48 hours

Shaifan was stabbed near Star Cinema in Male’s Maafanu neighbourhood, which was reported to police around 6:30pm Friday (May 17).

Police have confirmed that the attackers arrived on motorcycles and attacked Shaifan “in the company of others”. The 20 year-old victim suffered “deep injuries” about three inches wide and two inches deep in two locations on his back, near his lungs and backbone, according to police. Shifan underwent surgery and is still receiving medical treatment at an unspecified hospital, according to police.

The Criminal Court recently acquitted Shaifan, and five other suspects, for the stabbing murder of Ali Shifan that occurred on April 1, 2012, outside the Westpark restaurant on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, the outer ring road of Male’. The court acknowledged that Ali Shifan’s DNA was found under Shaifan’s fingernail, and accepted that this was “strong forensic evidence”, however ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict.

The second attack, which also took place Friday, occurred near Machangolhi Cemetery in Male’s Machangolhi neighbourhood and was reported to police around 7:00pm. The victim, Hussain Ziyad, 19 years-old, from Hithadhoo Island in Seenu Atoll, suffered two stab wounds to the shoulder and one in the back, but has since been released from the hospital.

Police have revealed that their investigation has indicated the attack was premeditated.

On Saturday (May 18), two young men, 18 year-old Naseeb Saeed from Feydhoo Island in Seenu Atoll and 21 year-old Mohamed Azhan Ismail from Male’s Maafanu neighborhood, were stabbed near Azmi-Naeem Medical & Diagnostic Centre (AMDC) in Maafanu at approximately 3:30pm, a police media official told Minivan News at the time.

A group of people on motorcycles attacked the pair with a “sharp object”, stabbing Saeed five times causing injuries to his abdomen, shoulder near his chest, and back, while Ismail suffered two “deep lacerations” to the back.

Both victims remain in serious condition at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), Deputy Head Chief Superintendent of Police Mohammed Riyaz of the Specialist Crime Command told local media Riyaz. No arrests have been made at this time, however police have identified two suspects during the course of their investigation.

The fourth stabbing incident occurred Sunday (May 19) in Male’s Maafanu neighborhood at approximately 6:20pm.

The victim, 19 year-old Usman Shareef from Male’s Maafanu neighborhood, fled into an electronics store, where he tried to shelter from his attackers. However, an eyewitness told local media that although the victim ran into the shop and hid behind the counter, the group followed him into the shop, stabbed him in two places, and then fled the scene.

The victim was taken to ADK Hospital via motorcycle by the store’s employees. He is currently being treated for neck and arm injuries.

Riyaz stated that police have found evidence linking some suspected individuals to the case and are investigating further.

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Maldives faces “significant” human rights challenges, despite “considerable progress”: Amnesty International

Amnesty International has announced that “significant human rights challenges” need to be addressed following a nine day visit to the Maldives, where it met with senior government figures and civil society organisations.

In a statement released Thursday (April 25), Amnesty International said that despite the country making “considerable progress” during the last few years in promoting and protecting civil rights, it retained concerns over issues like freedom of expression and wider accountability in the criminal justice system.

The findings were made as part of initial observations by Amnesty’s South Asia Director Polly Truscott and the NGO’s South Asia Researcher Abbas Faiz following a visit to the country between April 16 to April 24 this year.

Speaking to Minivan News at the conclusion of her visit this week, Truscott detailed some of the key human rights challenges facing the country.  Among her observations was the controversial flogging sentence handed to a 15 year-old girl over charges of ‘fornication’, which she believed to be just the “tip of the iceberg” in regards to wider issues over how sexual offence victims were treated in the country.

The current government has already appealed the flogging sentence, while also pledging to move ahead with wider legal reforms concerning the possibility of reviewing the use of flogging as a punishment.

“On a positive note, Amnesty International welcomes the efforts now made by Maldivian authorities, in particular the President of the Maldives, to strengthen measures to ensure that any child who has been sexually abused receives protection, not punishment,” the NGO’s statement read.

“These include a review of all cases of children who have been investigated for ‘fornication,’ that is, sex outside marriage. Under international human rights law no one who either engages in consensual sexual activity or who is a victim of sexual assault, should be criminalised or punished, regardless of their age.”

Amnesty said it also held concerns over a lack of “effective investigations” into several high-profile attacks on media personnel, as well as the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The NGO has called on the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed to end an alleged culture of “impunity for the arbitrary and abusive use of force by security forces against demonstrators” following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

Amnesty International said its calls regarding allegations of “excessive force” by police were in line with recommendations included in the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) released last year.

The full Amnesty International statement can be read here.

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Second suspect charged with murdering MP Dr Afrasheem Ali

The Prosecutor General’s (PG’s) Office has filed murder charges against a second suspect over the attack on the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, who was killed outside his home in Male’ last year.

An official for the PG’s Office confirmed to Minivan New that Ali Shan of Henveiru Hikost House in Male’ is now facing charges of intentional murder at the Criminal Court. Shan has also been charged with providing false testimony at the country’s Juvenile Court, according to local media.

Back in January, the Criminal Court extended the detention period of Shan, the second main suspect arrested in connection with the death of the late MP and well-known religious scholar Dr Afrasheem.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that the Afrasheem case remained open, with information on three separate individuals having so far been sent to the PG’s Office relating to the attack.

The trial of Shan’s co-accused Hussain Humam has already begun, with the suspect having pleading not guilty to charges of murder and requesting the opportunity to appoint a lawyer.

A Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) representative and Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid – son-in-law of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – were also detained by police over having alleged involvement in the case.  Both were later released by the courts, according to the Sun Online News agency.

Javid had spent 45 days in detention in connection to the Afrasheem murder, which his lawyer argued at the time was unconstitutional owing to there being no evidence to support keeping him in custody.

In December last year, the MDP accused the police of attempting to pin Afrasheem’s murder of MDP members instead of going after those guilty of the crime.

MP attack

MP Afrasheem was stabbed to death on the night of October 1, on the staircase of his home.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has previously alleged the murder of the MP was well planned and worth MVR 4 million (US$260,000).

In a presentation shown to a press conference last year, Riyaz claimed that 11 suspects were initially arrested. He added that about 200 items had been analysed as evidence, including forensic and digital evidence, which he claimed were enough to prosecute the prime suspects.

“Over 500 hours of CCTV footage have been analysed, more than a hundred people have been interviewed and about 13,000 phone call recordings have been analysed out of which 12,000 were from one single tower,” Riyaz said at the time.

The commissioner claimed Afrasheem was last seen alive inside the premises of the state broadcaster, Television Maldives (TVM). The presentation suggested that Afrasheem was seen leaving the premises in his car around 11:04pm, according to nearby CCTV camera footage.

Afrasheem left the station after participating in a religious TV program called “Islamee Dhiriulhun” (Islamic Life), with Deputy Minister of Islamic Affairs Mohamed Qubad Aboobakuru.

In his last words, aired on the show, Afrasheem said he was deeply saddened and asked for forgiveness from citizens if he had created a misconception in their minds due to his inability to express himself in the right manner.

Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed was quoted in local media as saying that the Islamic Ministry had not forced Afrasheem to offer a public apology for anything during his last television appearance and disputed that there was any religious motivation in the death of the moderate scholar.

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Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid released from custody, brother detained by police

Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid has been released from custody following his 45-day detention in connection with the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali last year.

On the day of his release (January 17) however, Javid’s brother Shahin Mohamed was taken away by police whilst waiting with Javid’s family outside of the court.

Chairperson of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – Javid’s father-in-law – told Minivan News on Thursday that the police “took away” Mohamed without any warning.

“He was waiting for his brother to come out of court and the police came along and took him away. He was waiting silently and they took him without giving a reason,” Manik claimed.

Regarding Mohamed being held by police, Maldives Police Service (MPS) Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said that police would not be releasing any information of the Afrasheem murder case due to the “sensitivity” of the investigation.

Minivan News has since learned that Mohamed was released from police custody three hours after he was taken away by police.

Local media reported that Javid was released after he was brought to court to extend his detention period following the expiry of his previous term.

Javid’s lawyer, according to Manik, said the judge stated there was “no way” Javid could be kept in custody any longer.

“If they had any evidence they would have kept him there,” Manik added.

Former Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said that Javid’s 45-day detention was “unreasonable” given that two people had already been charged of the crime.

“As for the arrest it is a constitutional right of the accused – and detained – for his case to be processed through the criminal justice system within a ‘reasonable time’,” Shameem added.

Javid had previously attempted to file a case to High Court claiming that the extension of detention order issued against him by the Criminal Court was unlawful.

However, the High Court ruled that there was no reasonable ground to support this adding that police claimed to have a phone call recording that supported their accusations of Javid’s involvement in the murder.

In December last year the MDP accused the police of attempting to pin Afrasheem’s murder of MDP members instead of going after those guilty of the crime, a statement seen by local media has read.

The party further reportedly stated that police had detained two of its members Mariyam Naifa and Alli ‘Smith’ Hashim for an extended period of time before releasing them without any charges.

Minivan News is awaiting for additional information from Director Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid regarding the release of Javid.

‘A desperate plea to help free my husband’

In a letter obtained by Minivan News, Javid’s wife Mida Moosa pleaded for the release of her husband claiming that the family were “very confused” regarding the information they had received about his detention.

The letter claims that Javid’s arrest took place hours before parliament was scheduled to finalise a decision on whether the proposed no-confidence vote against President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik should be held via secret votes.

Upon Javid’s initial extension of custodial detention, the letter alleges that Javid was kept in solitary confinement and that this matter was taken to the High Court.

“At the High Court hearing on December 13, MPS stated that Javid was kept in solitary confinement most likely because of an error made by the prison he was kept in,” the letter claims.

After the first 14 days of Javid’s detention the letter notes that he was brought back to court and on December 19 he was given another 15 day extension on his detention.

According to the letter, the prosecutors had brought a request form to court by the MPS stating that Javid was being kept in prison “for his own safety and to interrogate him on some evidence they had regarding the case.”

Afrasheem’s murder

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has claimed that the murder of MP for Ungoofaaru constituency Dr Afrasheem Ali was a well-planned murder and insisted it was politically motivated.

The Commissioner alleged that the assassins were offered MVR 4 million (US$260,000) and that 200 items were collected as forensic and digital evidence.

“Over 500 hours of CCTV footage have been analysed, more than 100 people have been interviewed and about 13,000 phone call recordings have been analysed out of which 12,000 were from one single tower,” Riyaz said.

Afrasheem was killed on October 1. His wife discovered the body lying on the staircase of their home.

Dr Afrasheem was elected to parliament in 2009 as a member of the then-opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).

Following the opposition’s split, Afrasheem sided with the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and faded into the political background.

Widely considered an Islamic moderate, Dr Afrasheem took outspoken and controversial positions on issues such as allowing the playing of music, and praying next to the deceased.

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PPM candidate Ibrahim Ameen takes parliamentary seat in Ungoofaaru by-election

The Progressive Party of Madives (PPM) candidate Ibrahim Ameen has secured the parliamentary seat representing the Ungoofaaru constituency in Raa Atoll that was previously held by his brother, the murdered MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC), Ameen took the seat with 1159 votes in polling held on the islands of Ungoofaaru, Hulhuduffaaru, and Maakurathu, all in Raa Atoll, as well as a special polling station in Male’. He defeated Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Dr Ahmed Ashraf who had 1078 votes.

There was some polling success however for the MDP during the day. The party’s candidate, Ashiya Hussain took the vacant island council seat for Keyodhoo in Vaavu Atoll with 221 votes, narrowly beating the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP’s) candidate Ahmed Fayaz, who had 219 votes.

With 15 minutes left before polling booths were closed around the country, EC President Fuad Thaufeeq said an estimated 83 percent of eligible voters had turned out to cast their ballots. Voters in the queue to vote before the polls closure at 4:00pm this afternoon were still allowed to vote, according to the EC.

Thaufeeq claimed that voting had gone “quite smoothly” at all the corresponding polling stations, with the majority of complaints it had received concerned with campaigning tactics being used the previous day.

“We had received some complaints that campaigning was continuing to take place past 6:00pm yesterday,” he said, referring to a practice outlawed under elections rules. “Other than that everything is going smoothly in the atoll.”

The Ungoofaaru by-election had been scheduled earlier this year following the murder of PPM MP Dr Afrasheem in Male’ in early October.

Earlier this week, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz said the Maldives Police Service (MPS) believed it was “not the right time” to reveal the details behind the murder of Dr Afrasheem.

Speaking to Minivan News today, EC President Thaufeeq said that despite the circumstances behind the by-election for the Ungoofaaru constituency, the polls had been conducted in “more-or-less the same manner” as had been seen with two other parliamentary by-elections held since February’s controversial transfer of power.

“We have been getting the same types of complaints that we received with previous by-elections in Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi. I would say it has gone a bit smoother than these,” he said. “There have been no major issues with the polls.”

The election itself was initially scheduled to be contested by three candidates after the PPM’s partners in the coalition government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, such as the DRP, opted against fielding candidates.

However, an independent candidate, Najih Jinah, registered to stand against the PPM and MDP made a late withdrawal from the contest to lend support to Ameen’s campaign, according to local media.

Previous contests

In the local council elections of February 2011 for two atoll council seats in the Ungoofaru constituency, the MDP candidate Ibrahim Zayan received 1,024 votes while then-opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) candidate received 1,790 votes.

Meanwhile, in the May 2009 parliamentary election, then DRP candidate Dr Afrasheem Ali received 573 votes while MDP candidate Dr Ahmed Ashraf came second with 533 votes.

In Vaavu Keyodhoo, all five island council seats were won by DRP candidates in February 2011 with the first placed candidate garnering 267 votes.

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