Court cancels hearing of suspects charged with terrorist attack on Gan police station

The Criminal Court has today cancelled scheduled hearings into the case against suspects charged with an arson attack on Addu City Gan Police Station on February 8, 2012.

The hearing was cancelled as the Prosecutor General’s Office was unable to summon the witnesses to court.

The suspects have been identified by the court as Ahmed Rasheed of Beachflat house in Maradhoo, Ali Rimaz of Liverpool house in Maradhoo, Hussein Zuhair of Heaven in Hithadhoo and Hassan Naeem of Sunshine in Hithadhoo.

In August 2012, terrorism charges were laid against over 40 individuals accused of setting the Seenu Gan police station on fire, including Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed and Addu City Councillor Ahmed Mirzadh.

On 10 November 2014, eight police officers testified at the Criminal Court against the accused.


UN translates Special Rapporteur’s report on judiciary into Dhivehi

The UN has released an unofficial Dhivehi translation of Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul’s extensive report on the state of the Maldivian judiciary.

In her report, Knaul expressed “deep concern” over the failure of the judicial system to address “serious violations of human rights” during the Maldives’ 30 year dictatorship, warning of “more instability and unrest” should this continue to be neglected.

The report is a comprehensive overview of the state of the Maldivian judiciary and its watchdog body, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC). Knaul examines the judiciary’s handling of the trial of former President Nasheed, the controversial reappointment of unqualified judges in 2010, and the politicisation of the JSC.

Knaul also examines parliament’s failure to pass critical pieces of legislation needed for the proper functioning of the judiciary and “legal certainty”, as well as raises serious concerns about an impending budget catastrophe facing the judicial system.

Read the translation (Dhivehi)

Read the original report (English)


Man arrested in connection to March 5 unrest

Police have arrested a 26 year-old male in connection to unrest at a protest outside Male’ City Council on March 5, local media reported.

Hussain Abdullah, of Blue Bird house in Male’, was arrested on Monday (March 11) after police posted a video online searching for individuals who had allegedly caused unrest during the protest.

The demonstration on March 5 followed the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed ahead of his scheduled trial hearing at Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court the next day (March 6).


“Certain actions by protesters could be classed as terrorism”: Police Superintendent

Superintendent of Police Abdulla Nawaz has claimed that certain actions performed by protesters in the recent demonstrations in Male’ could be defined as acts of terrorism.

The recent protests in the capital have seen supporters of former President Nasheed clash with riot police, resulting in multiple arrests and damage to police property.

Nawaz told Minivan News on Monday (February 18) that certain acts performed by protesters over the last few days – including setting fire to a police vehicle – “could be classed as terrorism”.

“It is not that we [Maldives Police Service (MPS)] are directly saying it was terrorism, but more the setting fire to a police vehicle and barricade, as well as threatening phone calls to officers, could be defined under terrorism.

“We always ask protesters not to opt for violence, it doesn’t matter which party they belong to. I personally believe things should not have happened like they have been recently,” Nawaz added.

Superintendent Nawaz, who is also Head of Public Affairs Department, stressed that while the police welcomed peaceful protests, demonstrations over the last three days have not always remained that way.

Asked whether police would have to respond differently to tackle “actions that would be defined as terrorism”, Nawaz said: “From the torching of  a vehicle to protesters throwing stones and bottles at police, of course police will have to act differently depending on how serious the crime is”.

On Saturday night (February 16) a police vehicle belonging to the Police Family and Child Protection Department was set on fire while parked in Male’.

Police also claimed protesters set fire to a police barricade in the early hours of Sunday (February 17) morning.

Following the recent protests, a statement from MPS released today announced that the Criminal Court had issued warrants for the arrest of 16 individuals allegedly involved in the “unrest and mob violence” in the recent protests of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

A police press briefing revealed that a total of 84 people, including two minors and four females, had been taken into police custody following the unrest.

Out of 61 individuals later presented to the court, 16 were allowed to remain in police custody in order to continue with the investigation.

According to the statement, Nawaz said police will also continue investigations into those who have also been released by court order.

Officers injured, harassed on the street

Speaking at the press briefing Nawaz said that in the last four days of the protest, 14 police officers and one Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) security officer had suffered injuries from protesters throwing bricks and glass bottles into police lines.

Nawaz said that the recent protests could be described as peaceful assembly adding that the protest “is rather believed as an act to impeded police duty and terrorise the capital city Male’”.

According to the statement, “Police officers of different ranks have received threatening calls and text messages from unknown numbers from abroad”.

The statement specifically notes an incident whereby a police officer on the street was harassed with inappropriate language in front of his three-year-old child, “who has since suffered from psychological trauma”.


Government claims all-party talks consensus as MDP maintains “early” election calls

The President’s Office has claimed all-party talks held last night at Bandos Island Resort and Spa concluded with senior representatives for the government and the nation’s political parties agreeing to move ahead through parliament to address the discussion’s key aims.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News that the all-party talks – the last of which, held in June, failed to reach a consensus on an agenda that included setting dates for early elections – saw representatives agreeing on revising the aims of the talks to reflect the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

However, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which continues to criticise the CNI findings – alleging they lack key witness testimonies and evidence – has today said it remained committed to pressing for early elections at the earliest possible date in line with calls from the European Union.

The comments were made after the CNI, charged with investigating the circumstances around the controversial transfer of power on February 7, concluded that the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to office constitutionally.

The Commonwealth, which backed the CNI under a reformed mandate and composition, yesterday called for report’s outcome to be respected – a stance shared by the US, India and the UN.

Following the CNI’s conclusion yesterday, Masood claimed the talks, which were attended by President Waheed, MDP Chair and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, “successfully” agreed to amend the aims of the talks. He added that these amended aims would now likely be addressed through the People’s Majlis rather than through continued external discussions.

Masood added that in light of the CNI’s findings, representatives at yesterday’s talks agreed on a new agenda, such as addressing legislative issues through parliament.  He contended that this work could potentially be dealt with through the formation of a special all-party parliamentary committee.

Speaking to Minivan News yesterday, DRP Leader Thasmeen said ahead of the talk that he believed the focus of discussions, which had previously outlined an agenda including potentially agreeing early elections for this year, “should now change”.

“There had previously been serious contention over the transfer of power. At this point we had been willing to discuss early elections. I think these questions have now been answered [with the CNI report]. It is now time for national reconciliation,” he said.

Thasmeen contended that the talks would likely no longer focus on agreeing a date for early elections, which President Waheed has previously said under the constitution can be scheduled for July 2013 at the earliest.

“I think it should be possible to move on and try finding common platforms for agreement,” he said at the time.

Both Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Interim Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and MDP Chair Manik – who were both representing their respective parties at the talks – were not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said today that in spite of the CNI outcome, early elections remained a “key” focus of the opposition party going forward.

According to the MDP, the Commonwealth had not yet announced a change in its policy of pressing for early elections to be held this year to address the current political stalemate in the country.

Ghafoor added that he had also been encouraged by comments made by President Waheed in local media to hold talks between the leaders of the country’s parliamentary parties and himself, discussions he contended that would be limited to five key Majlis representatives.

In outlining the future focus of the party’s plans, former President Mohamed Nasheed was on Friday expected to hold a conference at 4:00pm in Male’ at the Mookai Hotel on Meheli Goalhi.

Addressing the party’s conduct following the CNI report yesterday, the MDP claimed that it believed 60 people were arrested during yesterday’s demonstrations as a result of an ongoing special operation launched by police in attempts to reduce unrest in the capital and wider atolls.

According to Ghafoor, the party was itself concerned with the large number of officers wearing balaclavas as they patrolled the capital, making it impossible to identify them individually.

“They were singing at MDP protesters and mocking them to try and provoke the public,” he claimed. “I myself observed spontaneous protests yesterday that were not organised offcially by the party. These were people who walked out of our national conference meeting yesterday. This situation saw a large number of arrests late into the night.”

According to official police figures, 50 people had been arrested as of yesterday afternoon. Of these suspects, seven were female and one person was classed as a minor.

By midnight, authorities confirmed that a further 13 people had been taken into custody. All suspects were charged with obstructing police in performing their duties.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef today confirmed local news reports that police would be arresting any member of the public heard calling officers “traitors” or alleging they had played part in a “coup”.

Haneef did not clarify if any arrests had been made on these grounds at the time of press.

Police said earlier this week that they will provide full support and security services to the demonstrations held “peacefully and within the contours of laws”.


Unrest rising with no reconciliation in sight: Eurasia Review

In the current tense situation prevailing in Male, one would have expected President Waheed to make the initial move towards reconciliation during the national day address last week on the 47th year of independence. It was not to be, writes Dr S Chandrasekharan for the Eurasia Review.

In his speech President Waheed appealed to the people to offer full cooperation to the State’s relentless peace efforts while maintaining high regard for the country’s laws and legislature. While highlighting the need to safeguard the religion, consolidating the military forces and further unifying people, a conciliatory gesture on his part would have gone a long way in defusing the current tensions.

On the other hand his position is seen to have hardened. On 17th July he said that he ( he meant his party) will not participate in the All Party talks while the MDP continues to going back to street protests in Male. Earlier the President’s spokesperson condemned the MDP protests as “acts of terrorism.”

President’s Adviser Dr. Saeed who holds a very important post and who is expected to show some restraint declared very categorically that there is no benefit in continuing the “All Party Talks” and does not believe that Nasheed’s participation would reap any benefit!

Earlier the chairman of the All party talks- Ahmed Mujuthaba announced that 16 previous attempts at talks among the top political leaders had not resulted in any breakthrough! It looks that the talks have been given a decent burial. So much for the Indian initiative!

In the last few days, over 200 protestors have been arrested and this included many MDP MPs and even a former cabinet minister. Many of those released after arrests have been ordered to remain indoors in the evening and the night till the next morning! Quite a strange order!

Not all the protests have been peaceful either. In many instances the protestors are seen to have broken the barricades and rushed towards the security forces. The security forces have also been subjected to verbal and filthy abuses.

The Police are also seen to be using “pepper spray” indiscriminately. There is a video footage doing the rounds showing the security forces aiming the spray at Nasheed! The government has publicised the statements of the bodyguards provided by the government from the forces that they did not see any spray being aimed at Nasheed. They have to say this if they are to keep their jobs!

With the government pushing for prosecution of Nasheed, the latter has called on all the population to be present at the trial to witness what happens in the court while alleging that he whole case is being politically motivated.

The MDP has already declared that it will not participate in an election where its presidential candidate ( here Nasheed) is prevented from contesting.

An unfortunate incident of a killing of a lance corporal of Maldivian police by a criminal while he was being arrested is being given a political twist by none other than the Home minister himself that the MDP protests and abuse of Police by the demonstrators have led to the killing!

UK Foreign Office Spokesman Alistair Burt made a very balanced statement. He said -” I call on all sides to show restraint in the interest of achieving a sustainable political solution to Maldives’ recent problem. Protests must be peaceful and security forces’ response should be professional and proportionate. Violence and any cases of excessive use of force should be investigated and those responsible held to account.”

The Special Envoy of the Commonwealth made a similar call for restraint. He expressed his concern at ‘rising political tension’ in Maldives and specifically over the ongoing protests and criminal charges filed against Nasheed. He called for dialogue among political parties urging all parties to show restraint and restore calm.

The European Union made a similar observation. Their High Representative said – continued political unrest, heavy-handed response of security forces and charges filed against political leaders will only lead to further deterioration of the political climate of the country and will adversely affect the lives of all Maldivian citizens.

India on its part has also called for restraint and dialogue. These appear to have fallen on deaf ears of both sides.

Read more


Police arrest 27 year-old in connection with vandalism of VTV

A 27 year-old man was arrested on Saturday night for his suspected involvement in the vandalism of Villa TV (VTV), a private TV station owned by resort tycoon, MP,  Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member and Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim.

Police identified the man as Ahmed Naeem of Ladhumma house in Henveiru ward.

Another 26 year-old man surrendered himself to police after officers started looking for him regarding his involvement in the same case.

Police identified the man as Hussain Farushaan of Hulhudhoo in Seenu Atoll and said he went to the police station of his own accord on Wednesday night.

In a statement police said they were still trying to identify more persons that were involved in vandalising the VTV building during protests on March 19.

On March 19, President Dr Waheed Hassan Manik delivered his opening address to parliament amid widespread anti-government demonstrations, after the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) took to the street to prevent him from giving the speech. Violent clashes between police and protesters and sparked major unrest in the capital Male’.

Waheed delivered an abridged version of his speech amid heckling from MDP MPs.

Police told the press at the time that 80 men, 13 women and six minors were arrested in connection with the unrest on the day.

According to police, 11 police officers were injured in the protests, and one who suffered serious injuries was sent abroad for treatment.

Police Superintendent Ahmed Mohamed recently said that the attack on VTV was itself an act of terrorism and that those involved should receive “the harshest punishment possible”.


Indian government offers to replace destroyed police vehicles

The Indian government has offered to replace all police vehicles destroyed during the unrest that flared across the country following the recent transition of Presidential power.

The police bore the brunt of the anger that followed former President Nasheed’s resignation, resulting in damage that the Ministry of Home Affairs has estimated to amount to Rf183million.

The majority of the damage occurred in the atolls where 16 vehicles were destroyed during February’s upheavals.


House burns to ground in Gaaf dhaal Vaadhoo

A house in Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Vaadhoo was consumed by fire last evening while its owner was out fishing.

Island Council President Mohamed Waheed told local media that all that remained of the two-room house after neighbors extinguished the fire were the walls.

The cause of the fire is yet to be determined, however police are investigating the incident.

The incident is the fifth case of possible arson to be reported in the last three weeks.

Early on the morning of December 26 a car belonging to a group of American scientists was set on fire in Addu. Locals observed that it was the first time such an event had taken place in the area, while council officials wondered whether the act was a result of rising religious tensions in the days since the December 23 protests for Islam.

Two days later, Noonu Atoll Miladhoo island council office was burned to the ground in what police suspected was an arson attack. Speaking to Minivan News at the time of the incident, Council President Hussain Ghassan said the council had received “several threats” from some people unhappy with the council, of which a majority sides with opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

On January 2, 2012, police arrested one suspect but did not provide details.

On the evening of January 3, a furnished but uninhabited house in Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi caught fire. Police said they suspected arson as there was evidence of an attempted break-in.

On January 4, the engine of a boat en route to Male’ from Kulhudhufushi carrying 175 passengers caught fire near Aarah in Male’ Atoll. Two passengers were injured.