Suspect in Rilwan’s disappearance released from house arrest

The Criminal Court has released the last remaining suspect related to the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan from house arrest (December 1).

A police media official told Minivan News that the suspect was released after the criminal court deemed it was unnecessary to keep him under house arrest any longer.

The suspect was kept under house arrest in relation to what is believed to have been an abduction at knife-point from outside Rilwan’s Hulhumalé apartment on the night of August 8.

Rilwan’s family and local NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) have filed two separate cases at the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) accusing the police of negligence in the investigation.

An MDN commissioned private investigation by a UK based security firm outlined several lines of inquiry into the disappearance with pointing out radicalised gang related abduction as the most likely explanation for the disappearance.


Police launch search for stabbing suspect

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has launched a search for an 18 year-old suspect allegedly involved in the stabbing of a 21 year-old man yesterday, reports local media.

The victim was stabbed with a sharp object at approximately 10:30pm Wednesday (August 21) on Maaveyo Goalhi (alley) in Male’. He suffered two stab wounds near the right shoulder, according to the MPS.

The victim is currently undergoing treatment at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’.

Meanwhile , the MPS Serious and Organised Crime Department is investigating the case, and searching for 18-year-old Shifan Zufrath from Rozendale house in Male’s Henveiru ward.

Police have requested members of the public with information about Zufrath contact either the MPS hotline at 332-2111 or the MPS Fraud and Financial Crime Department at 991-1099.

The MPS said those who provide information to police about the suspect will be given due protection, according to local media.


Police arrest third suspect in connection to Artur brothers investigation

Police in the Maldives have confirmed the arrest of a third suspect linked to ongoing investigations into the alleged criminal activities of two foreign nationals identified as the Artur brothers.

A police media spokesperson confirmed that 28 year-old Maldives national Ahmed Vishal had been taken into custody yesterday (June 2) on suspicion of being connected – in an as yet unspecified way – to the Artur brothers’ operations in the country.  The Arturs have come under scrutiny from Maldives authorities after being linked in local media with alleged drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets and other serious crimes in Kenya.

Police declined to give more details on the specific charges against Visham, who was reported in local media as having been detained on a sixth floor apartment of a building in Male’.

Visham is the third suspect along with fellow Maldivian Ahmed Nishan and French national Godzine Sargsyan to be detained by police in relation to investigation into the Artur Brother’s presence in the country.

Police issued a statement in April asking for public assistance in locating Godzine, who along with Nishan later surrendered themselves to authorities.  Police officers then proceeded to conduct a search of the Marble Guest House in Male’ where the suspects were alleged to have stayed.

The Criminal Court last month agreed to extend the detention of both Nishan and Godzine, who has been identified by authorities as one of the Artur brothers.

The court stated at the time that police had charged the pair with assault and battery, cases related to fraud, and providing invalid documents to government institutions.


Photos of the Arturs in the company of the two Maldivian ministers emerged on social media, apparently taken during the Piston Motor Racing Challenge held on Hulhumale’ between January 25 and 26.

A letter from the Tourism Ministry to immigration authorities requesting a residency visa for Margaryan and Sargayan Artur, dated January 27 and signed by Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, was subsequently leaked on social media.

A company named ‘Artur Brothers World Connections’ was registered in the Maldives in October 2012, with the Artur brothers holding an 80 percent share in a 61-19 percent split.

French nationals identified as Godzine Sargsyan and Edga Sargsyan had a 10 and 7 percent share, while a Maldivian national Ismail Waseem of H. Ever Chance was listed as holding the remaining 3 percent.

Waseem’s share was subsequently transferred to Abdulla Shaffath of H. Ever Peace on November 25.

Meanwhile, on April 8, reports in local media suggested that Zaidul Khaleel, General Manager of the Club Faru resort, operated by the state-owned Maldives Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), had been dismissed after he was found to have paid the brothers’ US$6000 bill.


Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid released from custody, brother detained by police

Abdulla ‘Jaa’ Javid has been released from custody following his 45-day detention in connection with the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali last year.

On the day of his release (January 17) however, Javid’s brother Shahin Mohamed was taken away by police whilst waiting with Javid’s family outside of the court.

Chairperson of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – Javid’s father-in-law – told Minivan News on Thursday that the police “took away” Mohamed without any warning.

“He was waiting for his brother to come out of court and the police came along and took him away. He was waiting silently and they took him without giving a reason,” Manik claimed.

Regarding Mohamed being held by police, Maldives Police Service (MPS) Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said that police would not be releasing any information of the Afrasheem murder case due to the “sensitivity” of the investigation.

Minivan News has since learned that Mohamed was released from police custody three hours after he was taken away by police.

Local media reported that Javid was released after he was brought to court to extend his detention period following the expiry of his previous term.

Javid’s lawyer, according to Manik, said the judge stated there was “no way” Javid could be kept in custody any longer.

“If they had any evidence they would have kept him there,” Manik added.

Former Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem said that Javid’s 45-day detention was “unreasonable” given that two people had already been charged of the crime.

“As for the arrest it is a constitutional right of the accused – and detained – for his case to be processed through the criminal justice system within a ‘reasonable time’,” Shameem added.

Javid had previously attempted to file a case to High Court claiming that the extension of detention order issued against him by the Criminal Court was unlawful.

However, the High Court ruled that there was no reasonable ground to support this adding that police claimed to have a phone call recording that supported their accusations of Javid’s involvement in the murder.

In December last year the MDP accused the police of attempting to pin Afrasheem’s murder of MDP members instead of going after those guilty of the crime, a statement seen by local media has read.

The party further reportedly stated that police had detained two of its members Mariyam Naifa and Alli ‘Smith’ Hashim for an extended period of time before releasing them without any charges.

Minivan News is awaiting for additional information from Director Department of Judicial Administration Ahmed Maajid regarding the release of Javid.

‘A desperate plea to help free my husband’

In a letter obtained by Minivan News, Javid’s wife Mida Moosa pleaded for the release of her husband claiming that the family were “very confused” regarding the information they had received about his detention.

The letter claims that Javid’s arrest took place hours before parliament was scheduled to finalise a decision on whether the proposed no-confidence vote against President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik should be held via secret votes.

Upon Javid’s initial extension of custodial detention, the letter alleges that Javid was kept in solitary confinement and that this matter was taken to the High Court.

“At the High Court hearing on December 13, MPS stated that Javid was kept in solitary confinement most likely because of an error made by the prison he was kept in,” the letter claims.

After the first 14 days of Javid’s detention the letter notes that he was brought back to court and on December 19 he was given another 15 day extension on his detention.

According to the letter, the prosecutors had brought a request form to court by the MPS stating that Javid was being kept in prison “for his own safety and to interrogate him on some evidence they had regarding the case.”

Afrasheem’s murder

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has claimed that the murder of MP for Ungoofaaru constituency Dr Afrasheem Ali was a well-planned murder and insisted it was politically motivated.

The Commissioner alleged that the assassins were offered MVR 4 million (US$260,000) and that 200 items were collected as forensic and digital evidence.

“Over 500 hours of CCTV footage have been analysed, more than 100 people have been interviewed and about 13,000 phone call recordings have been analysed out of which 12,000 were from one single tower,” Riyaz said.

Afrasheem was killed on October 1. His wife discovered the body lying on the staircase of their home.

Dr Afrasheem was elected to parliament in 2009 as a member of the then-opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).

Following the opposition’s split, Afrasheem sided with the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and faded into the political background.

Widely considered an Islamic moderate, Dr Afrasheem took outspoken and controversial positions on issues such as allowing the playing of music, and praying next to the deceased.