Leaked CCTV footage has thrown into dispute an official police account of 43 year-old Abdulla Gasim Ibrahim’s death in a motorcycle accident on August 17.
Reporting the accident at the time, newspaper Haveeru stated that that according to police, two individuals on a motorbike had stolen a mobile phone from a foreigner on Majeedhee Magu and sped away on a motorcycle. Police had then ordered them to stop, but the two men had ignored the orders and fled from the scene at high speed.
Police said the speeding motorcycle hit the 43 year-old who was sitting on a parked motorcycle in front of the Justice Building, who was subsequently transferred to hospital with head injuries. The other two men were taken into police custody and charged with theft and speeding to avoid arrest, and the stolen phone was retrieved and returned to its rightful owner.
At the time of the accident, police told local media the accident had occurred due to the speeding motorcycle’s collision with Ibrahim’s motorcycle. They had made no mention of any police involvement in the collision aside from ordering the motorcycle to stop.
However, footage leaked on social media – which appears to be from a camera on the wall of the Presidential residence of Hileaage – shows a police officer stepping in front of the speeding motorcycle and appearing to hit the driver on the head with a baton as he rides past.
The driver loses control and collides with Ibrahim sitting on his motorcycle just in front of the Justice Building entry, causing both to fly off their vehicles. The police officer retrieves an object from the ground and wanders away, as other police and a military officer rush to the scene.
Ibrahim’s widow Naseema Khaleel at the time of the collision shared details of his condition with the media: “Doctor says he is 99 percent braindead. He has been kept on the ventilator from day one. The doctor said they’ll turn off the machine at 7:00pm tonight.”
Ibrahim was taken off the ventilator and died on August 20.
Letter to PIC
In a letter to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) dated September 24 and obtained by Minivan News, Ibrahim’s wife expresses regret that police failed to reveal details of the incident.
“The ‘accident’ occurred due to a policeman standing in front of Hilaaleege using his baton to hit the head of the driver on a motorcycle which had two people fleeing after stealing, which caused the motorcycle to lose control and drive into Abdulla Gasim Ibrahim’s motorcycle,” Naseema writes.
She calls on the PIC to investigate the incident in depth and look into whether the police, either as an institution or as individuals, acted in breach of the law.
Article 41(c) of the Police Act states that Maldives Police Service should inform the PIC upon the occurrence of death or infliction of grave bodily injury to a person due to the use of force by a police officer.
Naseema refers to the Act in her letter and suggests that if the PIC had not been informed of the incident by police, it proved they were violating the law. She states that she intends to file the matter in court.
A police source told Minivan News that law enforcement officials were required to assess whether the application of force was justifiable, adding that the officer’s use of his baton on the fleeing suspect was “total negligence on his part”.
“They could have let them go and found them afterwards. They had the number plate, they could easily make out who it was, and there looks to have been plenty of eyewitnesses. What he did was totally stupid,” the source said. “There was also danger for the officer involved.”
The source said it was “very concerning” that police had not released to the public the true account of the circumstances which had led to the death of the bystander.
“There should be a thorough inquiry into police procedure and training in the proper application of force,” the source suggested.
After the footage began to circulate on social media, Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that police could not respond to allegations that officers were involved in Ibrahim’s death. Haneef said it was unable to respond as the letter of complaint was addressed to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and not the Maldives Police Service.
“The PIC will investigate and take necessary steps if any police or the institution is found to have committed such an act. The investigation is still ongoing,” he claimed.
Warning – some viewers may find the following footage disturbing