Commissioner of Police assigned private security

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed has decided to have a personal security detail for the first time since he was appointed to the post, with media reporting death threats having been made against him.

Spokesperson for the commissioner Superintendent Ahmed Shifan confirmed to Minivan News that Waheed had started using personal security.

“The commissioner has started taking personal security starting today,” said Shifan. “However, information regarding any threats cannot be disclosed at the moment.”

However, Vaguthu has reported a police information officer as saying that police intelligence had received information of some threats made to the commissioner.

Last year saw the repeated instances of SMS death threats against journalists and politicians, with police working alongside the Communication Authority of Maldives to identify the senders.

Source: Vaguthu, Vnews


No apparent progress in police search for Rilwan, family plans protest for Friday

The Maldives Police Service is continuing the search for missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan as a top priority, without “interruption or boredom”, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has said.

“In the year 2014, the case that the Maldives Police Services worked the most on and was unable to complete investigations into was the disappearance of Maafannu Shining Star Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla,” Waheed told the press today.

“I assure Rilwan’s family in this opportunity that the police will continue the search without any interruption or boredom. I wish for Rilwan’s safe return,” he said.

Rilwan is believed to have been abducted at knifepoint in Malé’s suburb Hulhumaé in the early hours of August 8.

“From our investigations so far, there is no evidence to suggest Rilwan is dead. Therefore, our hope is he is still safe and alive,”

Waheed refused to reveal details of the search for Rilwan despite repeated questions from the press.

Reporters questioned the commissioner on Rilwan’s whereabouts, whether Rilwan is believed to have been abducted or if his disappearance was voluntary, and on possible groups responsible for and their motivations for disappearing Rilwan.

“I am unable to provide additional details on this case, as some information revealed previously and information circulated by different sources cast a shadow over our work. Therefore, I am constrained from revealing ongoing efforts and plans for the future,” he said.

Rilwan’s family has accused the police of negligence, and has planned a march titled ‘Suvaalu March’ – or ‘Question March’ – on Friday (January 9).

The walk is to start at 4pm from Malé’s Artifical Beach area.

Police dragging their feet, says brother

Speaking to Minivan News, Rilwan’s brother Moosa Rilwan said the state had failed to protect his brother and public pressure was necessary to force the police to expedite investigations.

“Tomorrow marks the 154th day since my brother disappeared. The police are still dragging their feet. We are completely dependent on the police to find him. We can only move forward when the investigations are completed,” he said.

Public pressure had previously worked, resulting in the arrest of four individuals, he said.

The home ministry had told the family in a recent meeting that police are still waiting on analysis of DNA samples from two cars which may have been used to abduct Rilwan.

“Five months on, the DNA samples have not been analysed. No one is in custody anymore. No motive has been explained. Police still cannot definitively tell us if it was an abduction,” he said.

“Meanwhile, my family and I are reduced to begging the authorities for help. President Abdulla Yameen still refuses to comment on the case. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Rilwan’s family has filed a complaint with the Police Integrity Commission requesting the watchdog to investigate police negligence in the case.

Home Minister Umar Naseer has previously acknowledged involvement of gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Gang involvement

Local media on Wednesday reported an individual arrested over the case traveled to Syria for jihad in early January. He was accompanied by six members of the Kuda Henveiru gang including Azlif Rauf, a suspect in the brutal murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.

Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concluded the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.

The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.

The report identified Azlif’s brother Arlif Rauf as the owner of a red car, which may have been used in an abduction reported on the night Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan disappeared.

Police were investigating Arlif’s car for having been illegally imported to Hulhumalé on August 4, and returned to Malé sometime between August 13 – 15, the report continued.

It also suggested gang leaders had been exposed to radical Islam during incarceration in prison, saying that they openly supported the actions of the Islamic State in Iraq and recruited jihadists for the war in Syria and Iraq.

MDN on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.

Related to this story

Rilwan suspect’s detention extended for the fifth time

Two immigration officers and Afrasheem murder suspect among group of twelve jihadis

Missing journalist’s family accuses police of negligence, files complaint

Home minister acknowledges gang involvement in Rilwan case, blames opposition for slow progress

MDN investigation implicates radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance


Vnews editor receives SMS death threat after accusations of assault

Editor of Vnews Adam Haleem has received a death threat following heated confrontations during a meeting of the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA).

“If you keep behaving however you like, we will make you disappear, we will behead you. Keep that in mind [expletive],” read the anonymous text message, received yesterday at 11:51pm.

The threat was received just minutes after the conclusion of an MJA meeting, in which local media outlet Vaguthu is claiming its Chief Editor Musharraf Hassan had been the victim of an attempted assault by Haleem.

The message received by Haleem comes just days after all media outlets gathered to call for an end to the culture of intimidation, after the recent abduction of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla.

Following last night’s disrupted meeting, MJA President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir announced his resignation, citing the atmosphere as “not conducive” to hold the association’s scheduled elections.

Haleem, whose award-winning journalism career has also included stints at Sun Online and Haveeru, has rejected claims of an assault, as has the MJA which released a statement denying the incident occurred.

No other journalists present at the meeting have reported the attempted assault, said by Vaguthu to have involved a chair being aimed unsuccessfully at their editor. The paper has also alleged that both the MJA and Haveeru had defamed the paper in the subsequent reporting of events.

Haleem noted that the threatening text was received 15 minutes after the meeting ended, with Vaguthu soon reporting the assault having taken place.

He also noted that he had received messages last night which appeared to have come from Vnews owner and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim, calling upon him to resign.

“Gasim called me after I received texts in his name and said he had not sent them. So we have to find out where these messages came from,” said Haleem.

Gasim himself was the subject of death threats last week, with the resort owner alleging opposition MPs to have been behind the text threats sent to the Jumhooree Party leader.

In a letter sent to Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed, Gasim suggested the threats had been sent using number duplicating software which gave the appearance of having been sent from a different individual.

Media concerned

The media’s growing concern over a number of attacks on staff and property prompted a landmark joint statement from all the country’s media outlets, signed on Saturday (August 23), expressing “grave concern” over the disappearance of Rilwan 17 days ago.

“We will not step back, or put down our pens, or silence our tongues, or hold our thoughts in the face of such threats. We will do whatever is necessary to secure our right,” it read.

“Efforts have always been made by various parties to silence journalists. Many journalists have been assaulted,” said the document, representing 12 different organisations.

As the police’s investigations into Rilwan’s disappearance continues, Police Commissioner Waheed met with senior officials from telecoms company Ooredoo regarding anonymous text threats.

As the threatening texts were “the issue that public has expressed concern with the most,” discussions focused on ways to speedily resolve the issue, explained a police press release.

Discussions were said to focus on “establishing a mechanism for identifying those who are sending messages to incite fear among citizens faster than at present and putting a stop to it.”

Around 15 journalists from across the media community received SMS threats in relation to their outlets’ coverage of gang-related violence earlier this month, while more threats were reported last week, making specific reference to Rilwan’s disappearance.

A text message sent to Minivan 97 journalist Aishath Aniya on August 20, from a sender identified as ‘ISIS’, read as follows:

“You are next on our hit list. Be careful when you walk alone. #fuckmoyameehaa.”


Police Commissioner was appointed legally, says integrity commission

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) has stated that Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz was appointed to the position in compliance with the Police Act, and that his appointment was lawful.

In a statement issued today, the police said that the PIC had sent a document informing them about this conclusion and stating that the PIC had decided Riyaz was appointed in compliance with Police Act 2008/5 article 52(a) and 52(b).

Police said that President Dr Waheed Hassan had appointed Riyaz on Feburay 8, 2012. Before Dr Waheed appointed him as the commissioner, the Home Minister Mohamed Ahmed Jameel had appointed him as Assistant Police Commissioner  on the same day.

According to media reports the PIC investigated the case after some politicians expressed doubts over  the legitimacy of Riyaz’s position.

On August 20, Riyaz posted a letter he claimed to have been sent, urging the police to “say no” to former President Mohamed Nasheed on September 7, just as they had on February 7 – an event the author described as a “jihad”.

The letter, addressed to the entire police force, praised officers for their “patience” in the face of Nasheed’s “cunning” and “malicious” actions during his presidency.

On August 24, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) issued a statement stating that the ”MDP firmly believe that Riyaz, by choosing to tweet the image of this particular letter against a candidate running in the presidential elections has contravened the codes of conducts enshrined in the Police Act and the Presidential Elections Act.”

Riyaz was appointed commissioner immediately after Nasheed’s resignation, which Nasheed and MDP would later claim was a police coup. The party has also repeatedly questioned the legality of Riyaz’s role on February 7.

The allegations were later rejected by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that ruled that there had been “no coup, no duress and no mutiny”, while also calling for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the country’s security forces following the transfer.

During the statement regarding Riyaz’s social media activity, the party again raised the issue of the police commissioner’s legitimacy.

”The MDP notes that this is unfortunately not the first instance where Mr Riyaz, appointed in dubious circumstances, has used his position in a blatantly politically manner,” the MDP statement read.

”The MDP would like to draw attention to Riyaz’s role in the February 7 2012 forceful overthrow of government, subsequent police brutality, impunity and lack of accountability, politically motivated detentions, unconstitutional barring of Raajje TV from police service events, the refusal to accept summons by parliamentary select committees and the extensive interview he recently gave on a policy which was alleged to be the MDP’s.”


Maldives police sign MOU with Turkish counterparts

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Turkish National Police during his official visit to Turkey.

Alongside Director General of the Turkish National Police, Mehmet Kiliclar, Riyaz signed the Security Cooperation Agreement in order to strengthen the institutional relationship between Turkey and the Maldives.

“The Security Cooperation Agreement will provide important training opportunities for officers of the Maldives Police Service in diverse areas including the combating of transnational organised crime, human trafficking and narcotics abuse and trafficking,” read a statement on the Maldives Police Service (MPS) website.

Writing from Ankara on his personal Twitter feed, Riyaz also mentioned a meeting with the Turkish International Academy against Drugs & Organised Crime, stating that the organisation has assured the MPS support and assistance.

The MPS delegation will be in Turkey until Saturday.


US invites Maldives delegation aboard USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier

Senior government officials were invited aboard a United States aircraft carrier on Wednesday (March 27) as it passed by the Maldives.

The visit was followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Maldives and the US government on Thursday to install a free border control system in the country.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, were flown to the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier as part of an arrangement between the US embassy and Maldives Defence Ministry.

The visit was documented by the ministers, who posted photographs on social media site Twitter.


Require a system to take witness testimonies quicker: Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has said authorities require a mechanism to take witness testimonies before they can be intimidated or influenced.

Local media reported that Riyaz expressed “concern” over the way all suspects in the murder case of Ali  Shifan had been acquitted.

The Police Commission claimed that many witnesses were too afraid to testify in high profile cases, adding that there needs to be mechanism to process witness statements quicker.

“Such things happen. This is something we must accept. In other countries there are various mechanisms in place to ensure witness protection.

“We already have such a law. There is a witness protection Act. We have been informed that a draft of such an Act is already at the Parliament. I hope it becomes a law soon,” Riyaz was quoted as saying in local media.

According to Riyaz witnesses change their statements in court because their influenced financially and through intimidation.

Last week, the Criminal Court ruled that all six suspects arrested in connection with the stabbing murder of Ali Shifan are innocent and ordered their release.

The judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict, reported local media, despite the DNA of the victim being found under the fingernail of one of the suspects.

The judge said that although the state had produced five witnesses to the court, their statements to police were contradictory.

The judge cited a Supreme Court ruling stating that when dealing with murder cases, a suspect could only be convicted if there was enough evidence to believe he was guilty beyond any doubt, and said the state was not able to convince the court that they were guilty.


Police Commissioner, Home Minister, refuse to appear before Government Oversight Committee

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has sent a letter to parliament stating that he will not appear before the Government Oversight Committee on advice from Attorney General Azima Shukoor.

In the letter Riyaz said the police accountability did not fall within the mandate of the committee, and that this was rather a responsibility of the National Security Committee established under article 241 of the constitution.

In response, chair of the oversight committee, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Waheed, told local media that the committee will examine the case further with a view to taking action against the police commissioner for refusing to attend the committee.

Ali Waheed noted that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that the parliament committees can summon anyone and that until now, Riyaz and other government officials had accepted this fact and attended parliament committees as requested.

The Government Oversight Committee has summoned Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel and the police commissioner to question them about a previous decision by police to boycott MDP-aligned television station Raajje TV.

The Committee has said it also intends to question the pair about the death of Abdulla Gasim, a bystander who died in motorcycle collision. Police had denied involvement, however CCTV footage of the incident that was subsequently leaked showed a police officer striking a suspect fleeing on a motorcycle with his baton, prior to the fatal collision. Police have defended the officer’s action as in line with regulations.

The Home Minister has meanwhile informed parliament that he cannot attend the committee hearing because he had to attend a cabinet meeting, and said he would then be out of Male’ for the rest of the week.


Dangerous fake ‘LSD’ in the Maldives, warns Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has warned that a very dangerous fake LSD drug is being distributed in the Maldives by local drug lords, which could ”stop your heart.”

‘’LSD is a very dangerous drug. It could stop your heart. Reports received that fake LSD is supplied and that some drug users are on it,’’ Riyaz tweeted yesterday.

Today police released a statement informing the public that early this morning at 3:30 am the body of a man was discovered lying inside Antennae Park.

Police said they had confirmed the deceased’s identity as Ahmed Nazeef Shaukath of Augusta House in Henveiru Ward, Male’.

According to the statement, Nazeef’s body was taken to ADK hospital immediately where doctors determined he was dead.

A close friend of Nazeef told Minivan News that he had been called by friends this morning to inform him that Nazeef had died from a LSD overdose.

Yesterday, police reported the discovery of dead body lying on a street in Hulhumale’ at 4:45am early on Tuesday morning.

The police identified the body as 19 year-old Mohamed Shahud Nazim, of Mercury House in Maafannu Ward, Male’.

According to police, two men were standing next to the body when it was discovered. Police said the two men were intoxicated and were arrested.

Sources familiar with the case told Minivan News that the two persons arrested tested positive for LSD and were in possession of the drug when police arrested them.

In a statement, police said doctors at the hospital had informed them the victim was dead when he reached hospital.

Two further deaths

Meanwhile, two residents of Villingili in Gaafu Alifu Atoll died after having difficulties breathing.

According to Villingili hospital, the men were dead when they were brought to the hospital.

According to the police, one of the men died while he was on the island of Kooddoo in Gaafu Alifu Atoll and the other died while he was on Villingili, also in Gaafu Alifu Atoll.

Police said they men were aged 33 and 58 and both died after having difficulties breathing.

Police have not said the deaths are linked.