MDP MP Ibrahim Rasheed arrested, placed under house arrest

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Maafanu South Ibrahim Rasheed ‘Bonda’ has been placed under house arrest for five days by the Criminal Court, following his arrest after midnight on Friday on charges of threatening and attacking a police officer and obstructing police duty.

According to a statement by the formerly ruling MDP, MP Rasheed was taken into custody at 12.30am from a popular cafe in the capital Male’ by “20 militarised police.”

“MP Ibrahim Rasheed was arrested under a warrant obtained by the police relating to an incident two days back on 30 July when it was reported that the MP was ‘bitten’ on his back by a policeman in the process of being arrested while participating in a protest rally,” the statement explained.

“The MP was released within a few hours on that day with two other MPs who were also ‘picked up’ with Hon Rasheed.”

Video footage has since emerged on social media showing MP Rasheed’s arrest on July 30 during an MDP motorbike rally. A riot police officer appears to bite the MP behind his shoulders during the arrest.

Photos surfaced on social media showing bruises on the MPs’ back and the prescription letter from private hospital ADK where he was treated.

Police however released a statement on July 31 denying that any injuries were caused during the arrest of the three MPs.

The police statement insisted that MP Rasheed’s claim to MDP-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV that he was bitten by a police officer was “a false allegation.”

Police further claimed that the three MDP MPs resisted arrest, used obscene language and caused varying degrees of injury to police officers. Aside from MP Rasheed, MDP MPs Ahmed Easa and Mohamed Gasam were also taken into custody on July 30 (Tuesday).

The statement also accused MP Rasheed of attempting to mislead the public regarding his arrest to bring the Maldives Police Service into disrepute, condemning the MDP MP’s remarks to the media.

Police have also denied reports by Amnesty International alleging “excessive use of force” against MDP demonstrators since the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

The MDP statement meanwhile noted that MP Rasheed was severely beaten by riot police officers on February 8 during a violent crackdown on an MDP march across Male’.

“Hon Rasheed is among 10 MPs who have been the subject of police brutality that have gone unaddressed for the last 6 months in spite of repeated appeals by the Inter Parliamentary Union to investigate the matter,” the MDP statement added.

While no charges have been brought against the Special Operations (SO) officers caught on camera beating MP Rasheed on February 8, the People’s Majlis secretariat sent a letter to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) requesting the police watchdog body to “speed up its investigation into the cases of violence against MPs on 8 February 2012.”

“The letter also requested the PIC to update the secretariat on the progress of current investigations on this matter,” according to the Majlis.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Court on Friday extended the detention period of former State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Mahir Easa by an additional ten days.

Mahir was brought to the Criminal Court at 2:00pm yesterday along with MP Rasheed.

Mahir was arrested on charges of inciting violence against police officers during a speech at the MDP’s ‘Usfasgandu’ protest camp last month. Mahir had said he would not hesitate to cross police barricades to restore the MDP government.

The MDP has called for Mahir’s immediate release arguing that since police possessed both Mahir’s statement and a recording of his speech, there was no reason to keep the former state minister detained.

Mahir was beaten outside the police headquarters on February 7 during the police mutiny at Republic Square.