Eight gangsters threaten MDP protesters with knives, vandalise lorry and speaker systems

Eight gangsters wielding knives threatened opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members and vandalised the party’s lorry and speaker systems ahead of a protest last night.

Eyewitnesses told Minivan News, eight young men allegedly belonging to Malé’s gangs, charged into a group of 20 protesters with knives at around 9:00pm, threatened them and shattered the windows of a lorry and speaker systems that were to be used for the night’s protests.

The gangsters shouted, “You cannot do this, this is our country too!”

The MDP has held daily protests since February 10, first against President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged constitutional violations and later against the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail for terrorism on March 13. The MDP has since pledged to launch a national civil disobedience campaign to free the party’s leader.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP member Aisha Hussain Rasheed said the group threatened former MP Ibrahim “Bonda” Rasheed with a knife, telling him to stay back as they shattered the windows of the lorry carrying the sound system.

An MDP member took a picture of the gangsters, but they chased him down, took his camera from him and broke it.

A police van arrived on the scene, and police arrested one of the attackers, Aisha said.

“We told the police, please protect us, we are also Maldivian citizens. This is your country too, why won’t you do anything? The police, however said, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ Then they left,” she said.

Another eyewitness said a forensic team came ten minutes later and took pictures.


A police media official declined to comment on the incident, but said no arrests were made last night.

The MDP issued a statement today condemning the police’s inaction, noting the attacks happened in public and were documented through photos and videos.

“The police are obliged by law to protect peaceful protesters. We note with great concern that police have failed to take action even as such groups continue to repeatedly attack MDP protests and destroy our property,” the statement said.

A group of young men had attacked MDP protesters on February 27, and cut off opposition-aligned Raajje TV’s live feed. Protesters on March 13 also reported that a group of young men threatened MDP supporters with box cutters and threw crude oil on protesters.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has also held numerous rallies in support of the government and calling for a speedy sentence in Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

The opposition has alleged hundreds of Malé’s gangsters attend the government rallies, a claim the PPM has denied.

Minivan News has observed several young men who had been charged with murder at the front lines of pro-government rallies on March 7 and February 19. Three young men seen in the front-lines of PPM bike rally on March 7 included one charged with the murder of 15-year-old Ahmed Shaneed in 2008 and two charged with the 2012 murder of 33-year-old Ali Shifan. They were all acquitted by the Criminal Court.

Speaking after the rally, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb called on the opposition to stop its nightly protests.

“Don’t make us take to the streets. These are Malé City’s youth. This is a very strong crowd. If these young men get angry it would not be good. That’s why we are with these young men in their homes. We are people who love peace, so don’t make us come out to the street,” Adeeb warned, according to Sun Online.

“We won’t give him [President Nasheed] anymore chances. You [the opposition] will also have to go home. Then we will also quietly stay home,” he added.

MDP subsequently condemned Adeeb’s speech and accused him of threatening the opposition with violence.

“MDP is alarmed by the threats of violence against opposition protesters, made by senior members of President Yameen’s administration,” a statement issued by the party on March 8 read.

“This is a desperate and dangerous escalation of the current crisis by the government. President Yameen’s administration is baring its fangs,” spokesperson for MDP, Hamid Abdul Gafoor said at the time.

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High Court concludes hearings into deputy speaker’s corruption case

The High Court has concluded appeal hearings into one of four corruption cases concerning Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim. Today’s case was lodged by the Prosecutor General (PG) after the lower court had ruled Nazim innocent.

The hearing concerned charges of fraudulently collecting funds through a company owned by Nazim to buy sound systems for a mosque. The amount alleged to have been misappropriated by the deputy speaker in all four cases is alleged to be over US$400,000.

According to local media, High Court judges presiding over the case today said that there would be no more hearings unless the court needed to clarify further information.

Newspaper Haveeru has reported that, during today’s hearing, state attorney Abdulla Rabiu told the court Nazim had abused his authority as a company owner and had also used staff as accomplices.

Rabiu said that there was no need to press charges against the staff used in the corruption, however, and that only Nazim was to be held responsible.

Nazim’s defense lawyers had previously told the court that witnesses produced against him were company staff who had also been involved in the alleged fraud, and who therefore were not acceptable to the court as witnesses.

The state lawyer today responded to these claims by saying that the witnesses not been charged with any of the cases, noting that the constitution states everyone to be innocent until found guilty by a court of law.

Case history

In February 2012, the Criminal Court dismissed four corruption charges against Nazim. The decisions came just days after the controversial transfer of power on February 7 that brought former President Dr Mohamed Waheed to office. The court had then ruled that Nazim’s “acts were not enough to criminalise him”.

Along with Deputy Speaker Nazim, MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem, and Abdulla Hameed – both then ministers at the now-defunct Atolls Ministry – were charged in late 2009 on multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the ministry.

The scam – first flagged in an audit report released in early 2009 – involved paper companies allegedly set up by the defendants in order to win bids for projects worth several hundred thousand dollars, including the fraudulent purchase of harbour lights and national flags, as well as mosque sound systems.

According to the report, the documents of Malegam Tailors – the company which won the bid for the harbour project- showed that it shared the same phone number as another of Nazim’s companies, Namira.

Fast Tailors, another company that submitted a bid, also shared the phone number registered under Namira.

Anther company – Needlework Tailors – which submitted the bid, had an employee of Namira sign the documents under the title of general manager, while there were no records to prove that a fourth company named ‘Seaview Maldives Private Maldives’ existed at all, according to the audit report.

The auditors noted that the Seaview bid documents had an date error also found on Fast Tailors documents. According to the auditors, the error was sufficient to prove the same party had prepared both company’s bids.

The prosecution began in late 2009, after police uncovered evidence that implicated Hameed, Saleem, and Nazim in a number of fraudulent transactions.

At a press conference in August 2009, police exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements, and forged cheques showing that Nazim had received over US$400,000 in the scam.

A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May 2009 allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letterheads. Police alleged that money was channeled through the scam to Nazim, who then laundered cash through Namira Engineering and unregistered companies