Police apprehend Fariyash in Malé, soldiers authorized to shoot in search for Shahum

Maldives Police Services have apprehended escaped convict Fariyash Ahmed at a café in Malé this afternoon.

Fariyash, 26 years, of Gaaf Alif Atoll Maamendhoo Island escaped from Maafushi Jail along with Ibrahim Shahum Adam, of Galholu Cozy in Malé, where both were serving a life sentence for murder on Friday (October 17).

Home Minister Umar Naseer at a press conference today said Fariyash was arrested while drinking a coffee by himself at Tatians café in the Henveiru ward of Malé. He had shaved his beard off, taken off his glasses and was wearing a wig.

Naseer said Fariyash is under interrogation regarding Shahum’s whereabouts, and said an armed group of soldiers will be working with the police in the search.

“An armed team of soldiers will work with a police team in the search for Shahum. They have been authorized to use their weapons should they face danger. They have the discretion to shoot,” Naseer told reporters.

If the commanding police officer believes the team is in a “dangerous situation” the police team will step back and allow soldiers to take over and shoot if necessary, he explained.

Shahum had no choice but to surrender or face “very sad consequences,” the minister warned and said the government will not bear any responsibility should Shahum get killed in the search operation.

“I inform Shahum and all those who know him, hand yourself over. The government will not bear any responsibility for loss of [his] life in what may happen,” he said.

Online newspaper Sun has claimed Shahum was sighted at Le Cute shop in Malé this morning. The police are looking through CCTV footage to identify the man, the newspaper has claimed. The police have declined to comment on the matter.

The minister has also offered a prize of MVR 75,000 (US$ 4,854) for information on Shahum and Abdulla Luthfee who had escaped from authorities in 2010 while he was abroad in India for medical treatment.

Luthfee had been serving a life sentence for his role in the 1988 coup attempt.


In an appearance on state broadcaster Television Maldives on Sunday night (October 19), Naseer said the two inmates had used a broken saw to cut through 22 bars on a window, climbed onto the Maafushi Jail roof and used a rope made of bed sheets to reach the ground

They had also placed pillow dummies on their beds during a nightly headcount.

The saw may have been acquired from a construction site on the prison grounds, Naseer said.

“This wasn’t planned and done in a single day. It was done under a well-planned systematic attempt,” he added.

“There is no prison in the world from which someone or the other has not escaped from. The strength of a prison system is in how quickly we recapture escapees and return them to their cells,” he also said.

“We will find them. The government is willing to use all the powers vested in them to find them, recapture them and return them to prison.”

He also revealed that investigations were ongoing to determine whether prison guards were complicit in the escape.

“Nothing we have so far found in the investigation indicates any negligence or involvement of prison guards. However, if such a thing comes to our notice, we will take immediate action,” he said

Jumhooree Party MP and former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz in parliament today called for an independent inquiry into the jailbreak.

Opposition MPs meanwhile contended that the government’s “negligence and irresponsibility” allowed the dangerous criminals to break out from a high security prison.

The Maldives National Defense Force’s (MNDF) appeal to MPs to stay in at night following the jailbreak is indicative of the prevailing state of fear and the government’s loss of control over “terror activity in the Maldives,” MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said.

Public fears over personal safety and security was “a characteristic of a failed state,” the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP added.

The police have conducted searches on Maafushi, Himmafushi, Guraidhoo and Gulhi Islands, and continue to search vehicles and houses in Malé. The Coast Guard is helping the police conduct searches of boats.


Police to assist with Maafushi Prison security after jail break

Maldives Police Service (MPS) is to assist Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) in strengthening Maafushi Prison security of after two convicts serving life sentences for murder escaped from the prison on Friday night (October 17).

A police media statement said a police team will be stationed on Maafushi Island to assist MCS on a need to basis and that the two institutions are currently taking measures to strengthen security.

The police declined to reveal details of how many police officers are to be stationed on the island or what kind of security measures are to be taken.

Fariyash Ahmed of Gaafu Alifu Maamendhoo and Ibrahim Shahum Adam of Malé escaped from Maafushi Prison after sawing off metal bars in a ventilation shaft.

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer accepted that loopholes in the prison system had allowed the two prisoners to escape, but said he was confident the police would recapture the convicts and bring them to justice.

“There is no prison in the world from which someone or the other has not escaped from. The strength of a prison system is in how quickly we recapture escapees and return them to their cells,” said the home minister.

On Saturday (October 18) Umar Naseer tweeted that the prison escape is an opportunity to identify loop holes in the prison system and to improve the system.

“Every prison escape is an opportunity for Prison Officers to identify the loop holes and improve the system while we hunt them down,” read the tweet.

Meanwhile, in a statement released on Sunday (October 19) MPS called upon the public be extra vigilant as the search for the two ‘dangerous’ convicts continue with the aid of Maldives National Defense Force and the Coast Guard.

Police also urged the public to submit any information they may have about the escapees to the following numbers:  3322111 or 9911099. The police have also pledged to take legal action against individuals who withhold information on the whereabouts of the Shahum and Fariyash.


Prisoner’s escape was our fault, but we will find them: Home minister

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has accepted that loopholes in the prison system allowed two dangerous convicts to escape from Maafushi prison on Friday (October 17)

Ibrahim Shahum Adam and Fariyash Ahmed of Javaahiruvadhee in Gaafu Alifu Maamendhoo were both serving life sentences for separate murder incidents.

Naseer told Television Maldives yesterday (October 19) that the Maldives Police Services will doubtless recapture the two criminals and return them to prison.

Describing the escape during his interview, Naseer said that necessary changes to procedure had been identified which would now be implemented.

“There is no prison in the world from which someone or the other has not escaped from. The strength of a prison system is in how quickly we recapture escapees and return them to their cells,” said the home minister.

“We will find them. The government is willing to use all the powers vested in them to find them, recapture them and return them to prison,” he added.

The search has today expanded to the capital Malé after investigations in Maafushi and neighbouring islands proved fruitless.

The escape

Naseer described the layout of the Maafushi Prison as being divided into two subsections, referred to as ‘The Pentagon’ and ‘U2’.

U2 is the facility where criminals who pose daily threats are kept, whereas prisoners in Pentagon get a few hours a day out in the prison grounds. The two escapees were placed in the Pentagon wing of the prison at the time of escape.

Naseer stated that the prison houses over 700 inmates, all of whom are convicted on serious charges including murder, rape, and pedophilia.

The escapees had placed dummies made of pillows on their beds at the time of the routine headcounts, the minister explained, resulting in the guards miscounting.

This particular method of escape was made famous by the 1979 film ‘Escape from Alcatraz’, which was itself based on a 1962 escape attempt from the island prison in San Francisco.

Umar Naseer said that it was common for inmates to be asleep under blankets at these times, meaning that nobody noticed anything was amiss.

“We have now realised that it is not alright for us to just count people in a cell, and that we must instead wake everyone up and have them line up for the count,” Naseer said.

In the meantime, the prisoners had escaped out of a barred window and onto the prison roof before reaching the ground via bed sheets tied together.

The escapees had used a broken saw to cut through 22 bars on the window, with Naseer suggesting that the work had been done in a series of days on the windows, which are about 10 feet above the ground.

Naseer admitted that the saw may have been acquired from the prison grounds as there is currently an ongoing construction project to build a new check post in the U2 wing of the prison.

“This wasn’t planned and done in a single day. It was done under a well-planned systematic attempt,” Naseer said.

Opportunity for improvement

“We can look at this as an opportunity to improve upon the current prison system,” Naseer said, describing the prison system as a “learning experience”.

“We have now noticed loopholes in our way of doing things. In future, we will improve upon them. I can guarantee that no other convict can escape using this technique again,” he stated.

“The prison system is largely manual now. The locks on doors, monitoring the grounds, all of this is done manually. We will in future work to automate these things,” he said.

He revealed that the cells have cameras, but that inmates often avoid being on them by spending time in the attached bathrooms or through other tactics.

Naseer said that investigations are currently being conducted into whether the escape was made possible due to the negligence of prison guards.

“Nothing we have so far found in the investigation indicates any negligence or involvement of prison guards. However, if such a thing comes to our notice, we will take immediate action,” he stated.

While the minister noted that the prison system is being maintained on a tight budget, he maintained that his philosophy is to “make do to the best of our levels on whatever budget allocation is available”.

Naseer dismissed the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s labelling of the escape as symptomatic of the government’s failings as a “rant released from a desperate party”.


Manhunt underway for escaped convicts

Police have launched a manhunt for two convicts serving life sentences who escaped from Maafushi jail on Friday night (October 17).

Police intelligence learned around 8:15pm that cell mates Ibrahim Shahum Adam, 23, from Galolhu Cozy in Malé, and Fariyash Ahmed, 26, from Javahiruvaadhee in Gaaf Alif Maamendhoo, had broken out, police revealed in a statement last night.

Police asked the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) around 8:30pm to check their cell.

The pair reportedly escaped through a ventilation shaft from the ‘Pentagon’ unit.

Home Ministry’s Media Coordinator Thazmeel Abdul Samadh told Minivan News today that the suspects might still be in Maafushi.

A joint search effort involving police, MCS and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is ongoing to check the area around the prison as well as warehouses and guest houses on the island, Thazmeel said.

The MNDF’s coastguard is searching the sea around Maafushi, he added.

Police said today that an investigating team and an operation team were sent to Maafushi and were currently searching the island as well as nearby uninhabited islands and resorts.

Thazmeel said nearby resorts have been informed about the breakout and stressed that the government was employing “all available resources” to find the escapees.

Police have urged anyone with information of the escaped convicts to call the police hotline number 3322111 or the serious and organised crime department at 9911099.

“Every prison escape is an opportunity for Prison Officers to identify the loop holes and improve the system while we hunt them down,” Home Minister Umar Naseer tweeted today.

In March 2013, Shahum was convicted on terrorism charges in connection with the murder of Mohamed Hussain, 17, from Maafanu Beauty Flower in Malé  in July 2010.

Fariyash was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of Mohamed Shihab, from Kaduolhi in Gaaf Alif Villigili, on the island of Maamendhoo in 2006.

Shahum is also on trial for the murder of 21-year-old Ahusan Basheer near the NC Park in Malé. The Criminal Court has concluded hearings of the case and is due to deliver a verdict.

Shahum allegedly stabbed Basheer in February 2011 after he was released by Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed following six months in remand detention. He was later taken into custody from an uninhabited island.

In June 2011, the Criminal Court found Shahum guilty of assault and battery in an unrelated case and sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment.

The victim told the court that Shahum attacked him with a wooden plank after he refused to have tea with him. The victim explained that Shahum was studying with him at an Imam training course and that he had to drop out of the course due to haraassment from Shahum

Shahum was also among nine individuals detained and labelled by police as “dangerous criminals” involved in violent assault.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has meanwhile blamed the government’s “irresponsibility and incompetence” for the jail break.

In a press statement today, the main opposition party contended that public safety has been lost while murders, violent assaults, and drug trafficking has reached “extreme levels” under the current administration.

The public has been expressing concern with the government’s inability to bring perpetrators who commit crimes in “broad daylight” to face justice, the party said.

The MDP called on the government to conduct a thorough investigation and hold culpable officials accountable.


Criminal Court concludes hearings into terrorism charges against Shahum

The Criminal Court has concluded hearings into terrorism charges against Ibrahim Shahum Adam of Galolhu Couzy.

Spokesperson for the Criminal Court, Ahmed Mohamed Manik, said the court will deliver a verdict in the case on  February 24.

Shahum was charged with terrorism after he allegedly attacked a group of men with a sharp weapon in March 2010, March, near Maaziya football stadium in Maafannu Ward. He also stands accused of murder is a separate case.

One of the victims of in the Maafannu attack died the following day. He was identified by the police at the time as 17 year-old Mohamed Hassan.

The victim was admitted to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital and was treated for more than eight hours in the intensive care unit, but the knife had severed a major artery and despite an emergency blood transfusion he died the following morning at 6:15am. He was was buried that afternoon at Aasahara cemetery.

A person familiar with the matter told Minivan News at the time that the boy was stabbed while climbing on to the back of a lorry after watching a football match held in the Maaziya football ground.

“He was with his friends on a lorry and about to leave when they were attacked by a group of people armed with stones and sticks,” the source said. “After a while they came close and stabbed him with a knife. Two other boys were also stabbed, one in the chest and another in the leg.’’

Shahum was previously sentenced to a year in prison for attacking a fellow student in an Imam course.

The Criminal Court has almost concluded the second trial against Shahum, concerning his alleged murder of 21 year-old Ahusan Basheer in 2011.


PG charges Shahum with terrorism through gang violence

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has charged Ibrahim Shahum Adam with terrorism through gang violence, alleging that he murdered 17 year-old Mohamed Hussein and 21 year-old Ahusan Basheer.

Haveeru reported that Shahum denied the charges and again asked for time to find a lawyer.

Shahum was recently sentenced to a year in prison for attacking a student in an Imam course they were both studying. If convicted on terrorism, he faces execution, banishment or life imprisonment.

Haveeru reported that following today’s hearing, Shahum threatened journalists present that “you should consider your own safety.”


Murder suspect Shahum sentenced one year for assault

The Criminal Court has sentenced 20 year-old Ibrahim Shahum Adam, a suspect in two murder cases, to one year imprisonment after the court found him guilty of assault and battery, reports local media.

Shahum was found guilty of assaulting a classmate while he was at a teashop in the Henveiru district of Male’.

In court, the victim claimed that Shahum attacked him when he refused to have tea with Shahum, and also claimed that Shahum used a wooden bar to attack him.

The victim also said Shahum was studying with him at an Imam training course and that he had to drop out of the course due to disturbance caused by Shahum.

Police have recently alleged that Shahum was involved in the gang attack on Ahusan Basheer, 21, who was murdered earlier this year near his house.

Police announced to the public that Shahum was being sought in addition to some other suspects,and sought information from the public knows as to his whereabouts.

Later police discovered him on an uninhabited island with other companions.

He was also arrested in connection with the death of a 16 year-old boy who was stabbed to death near Maaziya football ground.

Police arrested him in relation to that death and held him in detention for six months, but he was later released by the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.

Judge Abdulla said at the time that Shahum had been kept in detention for six months for investigation and that no probable evidence had been brought against him to continue holding him in detention. He queried police as to why their investigation was not concluded after six months.

Police answered that they were unable to conclude the investigation as the Health Ministry had not provided the medical-legal report on the death of the 16 year-old boy.

The murder cases are ongoing.


Shahum attempted to attack officers with a machete, claim police

Police Inspector Abdulla Nawaz of the Serious and Organised Crime Department has claimed that Ibrahim Shahum, arrested in connection with the recent murder of 21 year-old Ahusan Basheer, was planning to attack officers with a machete when he was found hiding inside some bushes on an uninhabited island.

Police began searching for Shahum after Basheer was stabbed to death on Alikileygefaanu Magu in Male’, one of the capital’s main roads.

”It is believed that he was attempting to attack police officers with the machete,” Nawaz said, of Shahum’s arrest. ”He was arrested with three other persons including an under-aged boy, all of them are suspected to be involved in the murder case.”

He added that police believed Shahum was had led the attack on Basheer, and identified his suspected accomplices as Athif Rasheed and Mohamed Visham.

”There is a reason why they attacked Basheer, but we can’t divulge the information as it might obstruct the investigation,” he said. ”We are also trying to determine whether they had any connection with the owner of the uninhabited island.”

The murder case came not after a week Shahum was released by the Criminal Court citing lack of cooperation from the Health Ministry in providing certain documents.

Shahum was kept in detention six months following the investigation of another murder case involving a 17 year-old boy who bled to death after being stabbed.

On March 17, a group of men stabbed a 21 year-old man to death near NC Park in the Galolhu district of Male’.

Police said the incident occurred around 3:30am in the morning in Alikileyegfaanu Magu.

”He was stabbed four times in the back and three times in the chest,” police then said in a statement.

After the attack to curb the violence in Male’ police commenced special operations and arrested more than 50 persons who were arrested on charges of planning assaults, which most of them were arrested without any probable grounds to arrest or keep in detention according to the Criminal Court.


Court releases murder suspect citing lack of cooperation from Health Ministry

The Criminal Court today released Ibrahim Shahum Adam, a 19 year-old who was arrested in August last year for allegedly murdering 17 year-old Mohamed Hussain.

Adam was presented to the Criminal Court with a police request to extend the period of detention, but Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed noted that the Criminal Court had already extended the detention of Shahum by six months for investigation which had not yet been concluded.

Police blamed the Health Ministry, and told the judge that the investigation had not concluded ministry had not responded to a letter police sent in August 2010 requesting the medical report on the death of Mohamed Hussain.

Judge Abdulla told police this was not reasonable grounds to keep a person in detention.

He said he regretted that police and government authorities were not cooperating to make the society peaceful and noted that the court alone could not succeed in this, according to a report in newspaper Haveeru.

The paper also quoted Judge Abdulla as saying that ”keeping a person in detention for not getting a response to one letter sent to the health ministry is too much.”

Judge Abdulla also acknowledged that police were not getting the cooperation from government authorities.

Hussain was stabbed in the leg near the Social Centre in Maafannu, Male’.

He was admitted to Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital and treated for more than eight hours in the Intensive Care Unit, but the knife severed a major artery and despite an emergency blood transfusion he died the following morning at 6:15am.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police had always fully cooperated with the courts to the fullest extent possible.

”We cannot do or say anything regarding something beyond our borders,” said Shiyam. ”It is the responsibility of the police to obey the courts and we will follow the court’s orders.”

State Health mMinister Abdul Baary Yousuf told Minivan News that he  had no information regarding the issue and referred to the Permanent Secretary Geela Ali. Ali is currently outside the country.

Judge Abdulla Mohamed did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.