Criminal Court again orders release of high profile drug case suspect, despite High Court overruling decision

The Criminal Court has last night summoned and ordered the release of a suspect in a high profile drug case, a day after the High Court invalidated a letter sent by the Criminal Court to the police asking to release him under house arrest.

The Criminal Court first asked  police to keep Abdul Latheef, of Gnaviyani Atoll Fuvamulah, in detention as determined by the Home Ministry, until his trial reached a conclusion. However the Criminal Court later sent a letter to the police changing the court’s first decision and asking police to switch Latheef’s detention to house arrest.

The police then appealed at the High Court to invalidate the letter. The High Court judges determined that the order in the letter was not consistent with the applicable laws concerning detention, and overruled it last Tuesday.

Latheef was arrested last year in December, as he was about to drive off in his car after loading some vegetables into the trunk.

Police officers attended the area, stopped his car and unpacked the loaded items in his presence and discovered 1083.4246 grams of illegal narcotics containing the substance Tetrahydrocannabinol (found in cannabis).

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said Latheef was presented to the court prior to the custodial deadline upon a request by the Criminal Court.

‘’We have not noticed anything unusual about it,’’ he said. ‘’The court just requested police to summon him and we did, then the court ordered his release and so we released him.’’


Police urge caution following false officer report

Police have warned the public to be vigilant against individuals falsely posing as its officers following an isolated incident outside a bank in the capital this week.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the Maldives Police Service had issued a warning against so called “fake” police after it received a report from a member of the public that claimed they had been approached outside a bank by a man claiming to be an officer.  The so-called police officer was alleged to have offered the person  assistance with money they were carrying.

“An individual approached a member of the public saying he was a police officer and offered to assist in transporting their money,” he said.  “This occurred near a bank and we are urging the public to be aware of these type of things.”

Shiyam added that the individual was not wearing a police uniform, though he was dressed smartly and looked “decent”, according to the report of the incident.  When asked about the identity of the individual who was alleged to have posed as a police officer, the sub inspector said that the incident was at present believed to be an isolated event and not an ongoing criminal endeavor.

However, police stressed that the any member of the public being approached by an officer should ask for their name, proof of identity and a follow-on phone number to verify if they are a law enforcement official.

“We do offer to escort the public with amounts of money, but only when they officially request support first,” he said.

Shiyam added that official officers would also wear full police uniform.


Boy drowns in Male swimming pool

An 11 year old boy drowned last night in the swimming area in south Male’, after he became entangled in some rope underwater.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police received a report of the incident at 10:20pm last night.

”Police officers were there within five minutes,” Shiyam said.

Shiyam said that police officers noted that the boy was not breathing when he was taken out from the water.

”We provided first aid to the kid before he was taken to hospital,” Shiyam said, “but he dead when we took him to the hospital.”

A person familiar with the incident told Minivan News that the boy went to the sea with a group of children who were of almost the same age, including his own brother.

He said that the kids were playing a game in the sea.

”They were playing a game where each one of them went under the water holding their breath, and picked up sand,” he explained.

He said that when the boy did not resurface for a while everybody started to panic.

”His brother went down to see what happened to him and he also did not come up,” he said. ”The boy’s leg was stuck in a loose rope tied to a stone beneath the water.”

He said the boy’s brother tried desperately to save him, ”but he was out of breath and had to come up. His brother was still under water.”

He said that shortly afterwards two men came and were able to pull the boy from the water and call police.

”His brother who tried to save him is still admitted to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital,” he said. ”He was taken to IGMH because he had breathing problems because he hold his breath for a long time,”

He said the boy who died was a student in Imaduddeen School.

He was buried after the Afternoon Prayers today.


Four expats arrested for missionary activity

Four expatriates were arrested yesterday for suspected missionary activity, police have confirmed.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the four men were arrested yesterday afternoon, but he could not give further details as the case is still under investigation.

A teacher at Maafannu Madharusa, Aishat Rameeza, told Minivan News that four men entered the school office at around 10:00am and gave a book to a teacher and a parent, while she was present.

Rameeza said that they asked if the teachers knew a place called “Higher Education.”

”We said there are many higher educations,” Rameeza said. ”We thought they were asking about the faculty in old Jamaluddeen School, so we told them how to go there.”

She said the men then asked them where the local market was.

”When they were about to leave they gave a book to a teacher and a parent who was here, called ‘A story of redemption and steps to Christianity’, and said ‘here is a nice gift for you.'”

”We immediately informed the police but they did not seem to care,” Rameeza said. “We still have the book.”

Deputy Principal of Maafannu Madharusa Ahmed Farooq confirmed that four men came to the school yesterday and gave a book “of about 470 pages” to a pre-school teacher.

He said the school immediately informed the police.

”I heard they were arrested yesterday,” Farooq said. “They looked like they were Japanese or Chinese.”


Convicted terrorist escapes DPRS on motorbike

A man sentenced for six years for charges of terrorism relating to the Himandhoo incident escaped yesterday as he was being transferred from the court to Malé Prison.

Spokesperson for the Juvenile Court Zaeema Nasheed identified the man as Hussein Nishan, 18, of Roze Hose in Himandhoo of North Ari Atoll.

Zaeema said that the man escaped by the time he was transferred to Male’ prison by a court officer from the Juvenile Court yesterday around 3:00pm.

”A court officer took him to the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS) and the department requested a court officer to take him to Male’ jail,” she said. ”It is the responsibility of the DPRS to take prisoners to the place where they are to be kept.”

She said Nishan fled on a motor-bike which stopped near Galolhu Male’ Hiya.

”The court officer immediately informed us about the incident,” Zaeema said, adding the department “immediately informed the police.”

She said the court officer did not manage to see the registration number of the motor bike.

Zaeema said there had several recent cases where prisoners had escaped custody, but noted that this was the most recent incident.

”We do not have a vehicle at the court [to transfer prisoners,” she said, ”and we have very low security procedures.”

She said Nishan was charged for terrorism in 2007 for attacking the Armed Forces of Maldives in Himandhoo when he was only 16 years old.

”The case was sent to the court by the Prosecutor General’s office on 24 July 2008.”

A source in DPRS told Minivan News that the court officer went with Nishan to DPRS around 4:00pm yesterday.

”We told him to transfer Nishan to Male’ Jail,” he said, ”and when we called after a while to check where he was, Niham said that the man escaped.”

He added that Nishan had cooperated during the trial.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed the case was reported to the police yesterday afternoon.

Shiyam said Nishan had not yet been found and added that the police are searching for him.

Spokesperson for the DRPS Moosa Rameez did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

President Mohamed Nasheed has previously vowed to the people of Himandhoo that the government will grant clemency to Himandhoo inmates convicted for terrorism.


Jail officers helping inmates bring in “drugs, phones”

Several jail officers are being investigated on suspicion of helping inmates to bring mobile phones and drugs into cells in Male’ prison, according to State Minister for Home Affairs Ahmed Adil.

“Three inmates and several jail officers we suspect [to be involved] have been moved to Dhoonidhu [prison] for investigation,” Adil said.

Inmates in Male’ Prison last week damaged their cells after jail officers seized mobile phones and other contraband. Adil said the trouble started after inmates refused to hand over a mobile phone.

”Jail officers found a mobile phone inside a cell, and they checked other cells,” Adil said. ”Officers then discovered drugs in another cell.”

Adil said that after the officers took the mobile phone inmates started to protest.

”They broke the flush tanks in the toilet and damaged other jail property,” he said, adding that the inmates were eventually controlled with the help of police.

He refuted a report published in Haveeru that claimed the protest was started after a “delay in financial transactions between a family and the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS)”.

Police sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the DPRS requested help from police to control the inmates during the incident.

Nobody was injured during the riot, he noted.

Director of the DRPS Saudh Abdul Kareem meanwhile refused to comment on the incident, claiming that Minivan News “causes me trouble by always disturbing me to clarify cases.”


Man arrested for child abuse and attempting to rape his mother

A 28 year old man from the island of Kolamaafushi in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll was arrested by police for allegedly abusing an eight year old boy on Friday and later trying to rape his own mother that evening.

Police Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that a man from Kolamaafushi had been arrested in connection with the two crimes but said at the moment police were unable to provide further details as the case was under investigation.

Police atoll commander for Gaafu Dhaalu atoll, Ali Mustafa, said the man was arrested last night around 10:30pm and had a recent record of child abuse. Mustafa said police discovered the man hiding on the beach of Kolamaafushi.

An official from the island office reported the man to police after he was called to the house in the course of his duties and discovered him lying on a bed naked with the child, watching TV.

Before he was arrested by police the man attempted to sexually assault his mother, the official said.

The woman jumped out a window and escaped to a nearby house, pursued by her son.

”[He] ran after her naked and tried to enter that house,” the official said, ”but a man from the house protected the woman.”

The neighbour was injured in a scuffle with the man, he said, while the woman suffered scratches to her neck.

Deputy Minister for Health and Family Mariya Ali said the ministry had received a report of one of the two incidents “but ‘would not like to mention which one.”

”These types of cases been occurring for a long time,” she said, ”but people have been very hesitant to inform [the authorities].”

She said to prevent such incidents from happening the ministry needed the help of the community.

”In every case there is someone from the community who know about it,” she said.