Lance Corporal Haleem killed by “MDP loyalist”, government tells foreign media

The government has claimed that murdered policeman Lance Corporal Adam Haleem was stabbed to death by a “Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) loyalist”, in a text circulated to foreign media outlets.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad was reported as stating in a story published by AFP that “MDP instigated the attack on policemen at Kaashidoo and one was stabbed to death” during protests.

Police meanwhile held a press conference today during which they claimed that the murdered policeman was attempting to arrest his alleged killer, 22 year-old Mohamed Samah, at the time of his death.

Police stated that Haleem had observed Samah wandering the street despite being under house arrest, and asked him to accompany him to Kaashidhoo police station. Samah had reportedly been released to house detention on Sunday following a two day arrest over an assault case.

According to local media, police stated that Haleem had asked Samah to get ready to go to the station with him, and had waited outside his house. Samah allegedly came out of the property with a knife, which he used to stab Haleem while the officer was on the phone to the police station.

Police further alleged that Samah was intoxicated at the time of the incident, and stated that he had tested positive for cannabis following his arrest.

Speaking to Minivan News, Imad said “I can assure you that he was an MDP loyalist, and an active member of the Donbileih Kaashidhoo campaign. The attack took place moments after calls to engage in violence against police, in an MDP rally.”

MDP Spokespersons Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Imthiyaz Fahmy were not responding at time of press.

Haleem suffered serious stab wounds in the attack, including a nine-inch deep stab wound to the chest. He was alive but in critical condition when brought to the hospital, but died soon afterwards while undergoing treatment.

The death has been swiftly politicised amid spiraling political tensions in the country.

The government condemned former President Mohamed Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for the murder, claiming that MDP’s ongoing protests against the police in the capital Male’ provoked the attack on Kaashidhoo island.

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeted that the “murder of police officer came after continuous attack on police force by MDP, calling [the] entire police force traitors.”

In another tweet, Jameel also said that “evidence available to police [which] exposes MDP top leadership calling for violence against the police force.”

Police subsequently released a recording of a phone call between Nasheed and MDP MP Mariya Didi, in which Nasheed expresses frustration with the police dismantling of the party’s protest site at Usfasgandu: “I think we need to fight back. If we can get people to fight. Find kids from Male to fight the police. That is what I think. I don’t know if we can get people to fight. I want to fight against them,” the former President is heard to say.

The MDP retaliated by publishing a screenshot of the Elections Commission party registry indicating that Samah was a member of the government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

The party further alleged that the suspect was a key supporter of Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdullah Jabir, who won the Kaashidoo constituency in the recent by-election with official endorsement from PPM.

Jabir has denied the claim and alleged the suspect had actually been working with MDP candidates at local elections, and was mentioned in a police report at the time for attacking a member of the JP’s campaign personnel.

PPM’s Council Member Ahmed Saleem yesterday stated during a press conference that “Party is not important. What’s important is the crime committed by the criminal.”

“We have also heard people say that he is from PPM. But we have not checked if it’s true. The reality is that MDP members have been registered under other parties by mistake,” Saleem claimed.