Prosecutor general criticises law enforcement amid spike in violence

Gangsters and murderers remain on the loose because laws are not being implemented, not because the laws themselves are inadequate, the prosecutor general has said.

“Our institutions have problems. If we solve those problems and co-operate with each other to combat those problems, we will see results,” said Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhusin, according to CNM.

Muhuthaz said that the country will only be able to take strong action against gangs and their financiers when existing laws are implemented. After that, he said, “we can talk about creating new laws”.

His comments follow Home Minister Umar Naseer’s announcement that the government is preparing changes to several laws to increase police powers and remove “loopholes”.

At a ceremony to mark the 82nd anniversary of the Maldives Police Service this week, Naseer said existing laws were unsuited to the Maldives, making it harder to maintain public order, and needed to be revised to reflect the country’s “unique circumstances”.

A series of attacks has included the killing of a 29-year-old on Saturday night, the murders of two expatriate workers and the abduction of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan late last year. He has still not been found.


No intention of “jumping into the bandwagon of MDP,” says Umar Naseer

Home Minister Umar Naseer has declared that he has no intention of “jumping into the bandwagon of [opposition Maldivian Democratic Party].”

After contesting the 2008 presidential election as an independent candidate, Naseer refused to back either former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom or MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

The Jumhooree Party (JP) and Adhaalath Party (AP) had formed a coalition with the MDP ahead of the second round run-off between Gayoom and Nasheed. However, both parties left the coalition during the MDP’s three years in power.

Naseer’s remarks follow AP President Imran Abdulla claiming during a protest march last night that the home minister would soon join the opposition alliance.

Imran had said President Abdulla Yameen was keeping Naseer in the cabinet to undermine the latter’s popularity and bring him into disrepute.

Naseer had resigned from the JP last month in protest of the party’s decision to form an alliance with the MDP.

Speaking at a ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) rally this week, Naseer suggested that former President Nasheed should be prosecuted on further charges for alleged offences committed during his presidency.


Dog kennels set up at Hulhulé Airport

Dog kennel

The Maldives Airports Company Pvt Ltd has completed a dog kennel to house 16 sniffer dogs at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) on Hulhulé Island.

MACL Managing Director Adil Moosa presented a ceremonial key to the compound to Home Minister Umar Naseer and Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed on Tuesday.

“In addition to countering illicit drugs, the sniffer dogs are also capable of identifying explosives and forged bank notes. Training them in this regard will help the police in fighting crime,” Naseer said at the ceremony.

The compound – measuring 240 by 93 feet – would house the 16 dogs and contains two bathing facilities. The first dogs are to arrive on March 23, and includes puppies.


Man armed with knife, hammer breaks into home minister’s apartment building

A man armed with a knife and a hammer broke into the apartment adjacent to Home Minister Umar Naseer’s apartment last night.

Naseer, in a tweet at 7:02am today, stated the man had entered into the apartment next door by breaking a window and fled when a woman living in the apartment screamed, leaving behind a knife and a hammer.

The Maldives Police Services have confirmed a break-in had been reported to the police at around 7:30pm on Wednesday night. Police are treating the break in as a case of attempted robbery. The police have also confiscated the knife and hammer found at the scene for further investigation.

The break-in comes amidst shocking allegations of rifts within President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet. Recently dismissed Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim last week accused Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb of using rogue police officers to plant a pistol and three bullets in his apartment.

Nazim is currently in police custody standing trial for smuggling illegal weapons.

Adeeb had ordered Specialist Operations (SO) police officers to chop down all of Malé City’s Areca palms in October, he alleged. Nazim subsequently lodged a complaint with President Yameen, angering Adeeb, the former defence minister’s lawyers said in court on March 7.

Lawyers told the Criminal Court Adeeb threatened to “destroy” Nazim during a conference call with Naseer. The home minister had informed President Yameen of the threat at the time, he claimed.

Naseer declined to comment on the matter to local media.

Adeeb has hit back at the defence’s claims saying he was “shocked” by the “lies.”

Meanwhile,  MP Ahmed Mahloof requested the People’s Majlis national security committee to investigate President Abdulla Yameen’s July 2014 decision to reduce the home minister’s powers.

Mahloof – recently expelled from ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – claimed President Yameen barred the home minister from initiating police investigations after he ordered the police to look into senior government officials using police platoons to commit criminal activities.

Article 16 of the Police Act allows the home minister to command individual police officers of any rank, and gives him powers equal to that of top police officials. However, the same article also states the president may limit these powers.

Newspaper Haveeru claimed that the presidential decision came after Naseer ordered police to investigate criminal accusations against Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Speaking on pro-government DhiTV on Tuesday, Naseer said if he could influence an ongoing trial, he would “meddle” in the illegal weapons smuggling charge against Nazim.

But “trials must run their course,” he said, noting President Yameen’s policy was not to interfere in the judiciary.

“I’d like to tell Nazim’s supporters and his family, there are three stages in any trial. It doesn’t end with the Criminal Court,” he said.

He described Nazim as a very close friend and “a national hero” who had made invaluable services to the nation during a time of “immense difficulty.”

“I pray for justice for Nazim,” he said.

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed yesterday asked the Criminal Court to summon Naseer as a witness in the illegal weapons trial to prove Adeeb had threatened the former defence minister.

State prosecutors at yesterday’s hearing claimed documents in a pen drive confiscated along with the weapons indicated Nazim was planning to attack President Yameen, Adeeb and Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed.

Related to this story

Ex-defence minister “plotted to attack” president, police chief, tourism minister

Adeeb framed Nazim after fallout over Malé City’s Areca palms, lawyers claim

President has reduced home minister’s powers, claims Haveeru

Police deny framing Nazim as former Commissioner alleges politicisation


Home Minister Umar Naseer elected as LGA President

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has been elected as the Local Government Authority (LGA) president.

Media reports say that Naseer – who is the cabinet representative in the authority – was elected to the post unanimously by the seven members present at today’s LGA board meeting.

The post was previously filled by the former Defense Minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, who has now been dismissed from his posts and is now under arrest, with the police accusing him of plotting a coup and trying to harm senior government officials.

Today’s meeting was the third LGA meeting so far this year.


Tourism minister Adeeb appointed acting Home Minister

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb has been appointed the acting minister of home affairs, while Umar Naseer is travelling abroad.

According to Sun Online Umar Naseer is leaving on an official trip coupled with a personal one, although no details on when he would be returning was revealed.

President Abdulla Yameen yesterday (January 21) brought changes to a number of ministries and state institutions in the aftermath of Colonel (ret) Mohamed Nazim’s dismissal as defence minister.

Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Mohamed Shainee was appointed to the vacated acting health minister’s position, while Umar Naseer was appointed to the Local Government Association.

Additionally, the Department of Immigration and Emigration – under Nazim’s remit as part of the defence ministry since December 2012 – was reallocated to the Ministry of Economic Development.

Adeeb had previously acted as defence minister earlier this month, when Nazim was away on personal business.


Umar Naseer appointed acting Housing Minister

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer has been appointed as acting housing minister while Dr Mohamed Muizzu is out of the country, reports local media.

Naseer’s appointment means that four of the thirteen cabinet positions are currently being held by temporary appointees.

The move follows the appointment of Minister at the President’s Office Ibrahim ‘Mundu’ Shareef as acting youth minister earlier this week – a decision some have alleged to be unconstitutional.

Additionally, Islamic minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has been made acting health minister, and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb acting minister of defence. Both positions are vacant while Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim is away on unspecified business.

The President’s Office has denied rumours of a rift within the cabinet, saying that the temporary appointments are routine.


Two detention officers seriously injured after attacks at Maafushi Prison

Two Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) detention officers have been seriously injured after they were assaulted by Maafushi Prison inmates while trying to conduct a routine head count last night (December 1).

Ministry of Home affairs spokesperson Thazmeel Abdul Samad told Minivan News that the officers have been brought to the capital and are being treated for head injuries.

“An officer went in to unit 3 at 10pm to conduct a routine head count and requested assistance after the inmates refused to cooperate, four officers went into the unit to assist him and then they were attacked by the inmates,” explained Thazmeel.

All four officers suffered head injuries with one officer getting bruised on the arm.

Maafushi Prison has been at the centre of a number of incidents this year, including escaped prisoners and deadly assaults on an inmate.

The head count was one of six conducted throughout the day and night, part of recently altered security measures following the escape of two dangerous convicts in October, who had broken through a ventilation shaft and left dummies in their beds to deceive the guards.

“The new security measures state that the detention officers have to enter the cells and check the identity of the inmates even if they are sleeping,” said Thazmeel.

While speaking about the escaped convicts, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer accepted that there were loopholes in the prison system, that the necessary changes to the procedure have been identified and that they 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 Naseer in an interview to Television Maldives.

The escapees in question were Ibrahim Shahum Adam and Fariyash Ahmed – both serving life sentences for separate murder incidents – were soon recaptured in the capital Malé.

While speaking at a ceremony in Maafushi Naseer said he would use a dog squad periodically in preventing the entry of illicit drugs into Maafushi Jail.

In addition to the 20-foot wall, surveillance cameras, increased lighting and automatic locks will be used to strengthen security at the jail, he added.

Last month, correctional services seized large amounts of illegal contraband from jails under its custody, including Maafushi. MCS confiscated 32 phone chargers, 33 SIM cards, and 200 packets of illicit narcotics from the high security facility.

Speaking at a press briefing on November 2, Superintendent of Prisons Mohamed Asif said MCS has been “continuously searching” jails for contraband as part of wider efforts to improve security.

Earlier this year, Maafushi inmate Ibrahim Azar died from serious head injuries he suffered following an attack by two of his cell mates.

A one page MCS report to the Parliament’s oversight committee stated that Azar had requested a transfer to another cell shortly before he was fatally assaulted.

Related to this story

Hospitalised Maafushi inmate requested transfer from cell before assault

Drugs, mobile phones seized from jail

Manhunt underway for escaped convicts

Escaped convicts were on hunt for murder, theft deal, says home minister


Escaped convicts were on hunt for murder, theft deal, says home minister

Two convicts who escaped from Maafushi Jail on October 16 were apprehended while on a hunt for a deal to commit murder or theft, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said.

Speaking at a ceremony to lay the foundation of a 20-foot wall around Maafushi Jail today, Naseer said Ibrahim Shahum Adam, 23 years, and Fariyash Ahmed, 26 years, had not intended to simply flee from jail, but declined to reveal details of the alleged deal.

Both Shahum and Fariyash were serving life sentences for murder.

Fariyash was apprehended in a café in Malé on October 21. He had shaved his beard, taken off his glasses and was wearing a wig at the time of arrest.

The police then enlisted the help of an armed team of soldiers in the nationwide ‘Operation Gator Hunt’ for Shahum. He was caught the next day in a guesthouse in Malé.

Naseer said Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) officers were not involved in aiding the two convicts escape from jail, but said several inmates had abetted the jailbreak.

The Maldives Police Services have arrested two men on charges of aiding Shahum and Fariyash’s escape. A 32-year-old man was arrested on Thursday and a 20-year-old man was arrested on Friday.

The 20-year-old has a previous record of drugs, theft, harassment and intimidation, and vandalism of property, a police statement on Friday said.

According to the Maldives Police Services, the MCS only noticed the two were missing 24 hours after their escape.

They had sawn off 22 bars on a window in the bathroom of cell number 14 in unit 9 of Maafushi Jail, the police said.

Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has attributed Operation Gator Hunt’s success to interagency collaboration within the police.

Naseer today said he would use a dog squad periodically in preventing the entry of illicit drugs into Maafushi Jail.

In addition to the 20-foot wall, surveillance cameras, increased lighting and automatic locks will be used to strengthen security at the jail, he said.

Between 50 and 100 inmates will work for pay in constructing the wall. The MVR4.2 million (US$272,000) wall will stretch for 1.4 kilometers and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

The increased security measures will prevent inmates enslaving other inmates and violence within the jail, he added.

Jumhooree Party MP and former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has 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.