Liquor and drug island arrest like a “terrorist killing operation”: MP Abdulla Jabir

Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir has spoken of the severe brutality he and others faced whilst being arrested on Thursday’s island raid, likening the actions of the police to that of “terrorists”.

A ‘special’ operation carried out on Thursday night concluded with the arrest of ten people on the island of Hodaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll, a police statement read.

Police said they found large amounts of “suspected” drugs and alcohol upon searching the island with a court warrant.

Jabir, who has since been released from custody, told how the arrested group suffered at the hands of the police during the night-time raid.

“We had gone there to have dinner and spend the night on the island, but at about 4:00am, when most of the group were asleep, we were confronted by hundreds of police.

“They said we were drinking alcohol, so I asked them to show a warrant and they didn’t have one. They then started hitting and beating us, they wanted to kill us,” he alleged.

“This did not feel like a police operation, it felt like a terrorist killing operation and it should not be acceptable anywhere in the world,” Jabir told Minivan News.

Jabir said how members of the group were “ripped” out of bed, including a two-year-old child, before being arrested “face-down” on the sand.

“The child had to watch his parents being treated like animals in front of him, it was psychologically damaging,” Jabir claimed.

“[Police] beat us to the ground, put us face down and stood on our heads whilst we were handcuffed. We were treated like pieces of s**t,” Jabir added.

Those arrested included MDP’s international spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor (MDP), former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to the former President, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz.

The others arrested were Jadhulla Jaleel, Hamdan Zaki, two Sri Lankan nationals named Raj Mohan and Anoor Bandaranayk, as well as a Bangladeshi named Suhail Rana.

Jabir explained that there was “no alcohol or any other illegal substances whatsoever” on the island, adding: “If we had been interested in alcohol, we could have gone to one of my resorts.”

“None of us have any interest in alcohol, we had gone to the island to have a picnic. As for hash oil, I don’t even know what that is,” Jabir said.

The arrests were made “based on information received by police intelligence,” police said. Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Haveeru that the suspects were arrested with alcohol and “hash oil”.

Jabir claimed that if any items were found, they would have been “planted” by the police.

“I don’t know who was behind this, but I will go to every length to find out who ordered this operation and see they are behind bars.

“I had heard about police brutality, but this was beyond my imagination. It felt like they wanted to kill Zaki and myself,” he added.

Following the arrests, the suspects were taken to Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll, and Zaki was hospitalised.

Former Human Resource Minister Hassan Latheef tweeted: “IH.Zaki was severely beaten by baton n handcuffed for hours before he was taken to Police. Marks r seen at his thigh n face.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also tweeted that he had spoken to the lawyers of Zaki and other MPs, who confirmed they had been beaten.

“Spoke to lawyers of Zaki & MPs. They have been beaten, ill-treated and no alcohol or drug was found in their position or from their rooms,” Nasheed said.

Parliament’s Privileges Committee held an emergency meeting on Friday following the arrests.

Section 202.D of Parliament’s rules of procedure states that MPs cannot be arrested while there is a no-confidence motion before parliament to impeach the president or remove a cabinet minister, judge or member of an independent commission from his or her post.

The Majlis secretariat released a statement on Friday afternoon stating that Speaker Abdulla Shahid had instructed police to abide by parliament’s rules of procedure after he was informed of the arrests.

Despite a police attempt to extend the detention periods, all suspects including the two MPs have now been released by the Kulhudhufushi Magistrate Court, with exception of Zaki’s son Hamdan Zaki and Jadhulla Jaleel after the court extended their detention for five days.

Zaki is currently undergoing treatment at ADK hospital after being flown to Male’ this morning.

It has been alleged by the MDP that the arrests were a politically-motivated attempt to disrupt parliament ahead of a no confidence motion against President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Following the arrests, Nasheed alleged in a tweet that the arrests were made the same day Waheed had “threatened” parliament during a speech on Kinolhas in Raa Atoll.

“Less than 24 hours after my former deputy threatened the parliament, police have arrested MP Hamid, Jabir and my press secretary. They must be freed immediately,” Nasheed said.

The island of Hodaidhoo was leased to Yacht Tours for resort development in January 2003. According to Haveeru, it was previously inhabited but the population was relocated to Haa Dhaal Hanimadhoo in 1997. MP Jabir is Chairman of Yacht Tours.