All women arrested at Anbaraa island festival transferred to house arrest

Yesterday evening, police transferred all the women taken into custody at the Anbaraa music festival to house arrest.

Nineteen women were amongst the 79 people arrested on suspicion of being under the influence, and in possession of, illegal drugs on Friday (April 18).

An official from the Home Ministry told online newspaper CNM that the women were transferred to house arrest due to a lack of space in detention centres and difficulties in catering for them.

He told the paper that they were all transferred under the authority held by the home minister. He further noted that the court warrant to extend their detention period stated that they should be detained in a place determined by the Home Ministry.

Meanwhile former President and acting president of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mohamed Nasheed told press yesterday that, while the police told the court everyone arrested had tested positive to illegal drugs, he had information that they had not all been tested when they were summoned to the Criminal Court to have their detention extended on Saturday (April 19) .

Nasheed said that the only situation where police should raid any place in the manner they did, is when their lives were at risk or if the police believed they might be attacked when trying to arrest a person.

The opposition leader said that he did not understand the reason why police had to raid an island firing rubber bullets and shouting when its inhabitants were a group of young people entertaining themselves.

Nasheed also alleged that, after raiding the island, police officers handcuffed all the young people and went fishing.

He repeated the allegations he previously made against Tourism Minister and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Deputy Leader Ahmed Adheeb and said that he was one of the event organisers.

Nasheed suggested a cross-cabinet plan in which it is one minister’s duty was to gather all the young people to one place while the other minister’s duty could be arresting all of them at once.

The PPM have described Nasheed’s comments as an “uncivilised” attempt to sabotage the implementation of its youth manifesto as well as the other youth development efforts of the government.

The Maldives Police Service yesterday denied allegations by the opposition MDP that constitutional rights and procedures were violated in the arrest made in Anbaraa.

The MDP’s rights committee has contended that procedures specified in the constitution for arrest or detention – such as informing suspects of the reasons in writing within 24 hours, providing access to legal counsel, and presenting suspects before a judge within 24 hours for a remand hearing – were breached by the police.

Moreover, the committee alleged that police did not act in accordance with regulations governing the exercise of law enforcement powers concerning arrest and detention.

Last weekend police searched 198 persons and arrested 79, including one minor, during a music festival on Anbaraa island in Vaavu atoll.

Home Minister Umar Naseer the following day in a tweet said that law will be enforced without any exemptions, writing that “anybody can party but no drugs on the menu.’’


All 79 suspects arrested from Anbaraa festival tested positive for drugs, police reveal

All 79 suspects taken into police custody from the island of Anbaraa in Vaavu atoll tested positive for drugs, police have revealed.

Briefing the press today, Chief Inspector Abdulla Satheeh explained that police received intelligence information suggesting that alcohol and drugs were being used and sold at the two-day music festival held on the uninhabited island.

Police raided the island with a court order at midnight on Friday night (April 18), he noted.

The Drug Enforcement Department, Specialist Operations, police intelligence department, and the forensic department conducted the operation, Satheeh said.

Upon searching the island as well as the 198 partygoers, Satheeh said police discovered different types of drugs and more than MVR90,000 (US$5,836) in cash.

In addition to beer cans, the drugs confiscated from the island included pills, LSD stickers, and hash oil joints as well as rubber packets, cellophane packets, and film canisters containing cannabis, Satheeh said.

The drugs, beer cans, and cash were displayed in a video presentation at the press briefing.

While all 198 persons on the island were held and searched, the chief inspector noted that the 79 individuals were arrested after drugs were found either in their possession or at the scene.

Police revealed earlier that the 79 suspects included one female minor, 19 women and 59 men, including one foreign male.

While the remaining 119 were released without charge, Satheeh revealed that none of them were tested for drug use.

Arrangements were not in place to conduct drug tests on the island, he added.

The 79 persons taken into custody were arrested either with drugs in their possession or because police suspected they were under the influence of drugs, Satheeh noted.

Contrary to media reports claiming that a number of people were naked, Satheeh said individuals of both genders were “wearing revealing clothing” when police raided the island.

Asked about the organisers of the festival and lease holder of the uninhabited island, Satheeh said he could not disclose further details as the initial stage of the investigation.


Criminal Court extends detention period of all arrested from Anbaraa festival

The Criminal Court has extended the pretrial detention of the 78 people arrested from the island of Anbaraa to 10 days.

Yesterday police searched more than 200 persons and arrested 79, including one minor, during a music festival on Ambara island in Vaavu atoll.

Of the 79 persons arrested 19 were females, with local media reporting that all those arrested tested positive for illicit drugs.

When those arrested were summoned to the Criminal Court last night, a group of people gathered in the area attempted to create unrest with police arresting three persons near the court, local media reported.

Local media also reported that one expat was among the 79 persons arrested. Minivan News understands that it was a Malaysian national identified as Wen Que that was arrested from the island.

According to media reports, the minor that was arrested was summoned to the Juvenile Court and her detention period extended to five days house arrest.

Home Minister Umar Naseer in a tweet has said that law will be enforced without any exemptions, writing that “anybody can party but no drugs on the menu.’’

Newspaper Haveeru has reported that the son of Maldives National Defence Force Chief Major General Ahmed Shiyam was among those arrested. The son of prominent businessman ‘South’ Thaufeeq and the son of Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) MP-elect Brigadier General (retired) Ibrahim Mohamed were also reported to have been arrested at the festival.

Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed this morning gave an interview to MDP-aligned radio station Minivan 97, saying that the raid was politically motivated suggesting that Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was responsible.

Nasheed alleged that Adeeb had purposefully put all the youth into the same place in order to arrest them and took them all.

He also said that he did not believe all the young people that went there went with the intention of abusing illicit drugs.

Nasheed alleged that President Abdulla Yameen and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom were trying to rule the country by forcibly controlling the youth – calling for people to come out and protect young people.

He recalled an incident that occurred in 1979 when the then-President Gayoom arrested a large group of youth before allegedly torturing them. He suggested that the youth did not open their mouths to talk about it until Gayoom’s 30 year administration was over.

Witness account

A person present at the festival told Minivan News that on Friday night at about 12am he started hearing loud explosions.

“I thought one of the speakers had a fault but then I kept hearing that sound from different sides so I went out to see what was going on,’’ he said.

“When I came out the whole place was full of smoke and I thought it was part of their plan to make the event more enjoyable.’’

He said he then saw the tip of a gun coming slowly towards him.

“I still thought it was a toy gun and it was part of their plan to surprise people but then I saw the face of a person wearing a mask and then I saw police the police uniform,’’ he said.

“The police officer came and pointed the gun at my forehead and told me to get down on my knees, I just automatically fell down on my knees with my hands on my head – it was like a computer game scene.’’

The source said that he then looked around and realised that there was a police raid on the island and that the loud sound he had heard came from the smoke grenades the police had thrown all over.

“The police were very violent, the male police officers ran after the males and the female officers chased down the females, they used batons and swimming fins to beat people,’’ he said. “Then we were all handcuffed behind our backs and made to lie on the ground for more than an hour and a half.’’

He said the police mostly arrested those who were in possession of illicit drugs.

“Lots and lots of illegal drugs were found inside the tents, mostly hash oil and ecstasy pills,’’ the source said. “Those who were not in possession of any illicit drugs were released after the search.’’

He also said that all the females that went to the party were arrested except for two. He denied the allegations that some of the girls were naked when police raided the island.

“No one was naked but they were all under dressed,’’ he added.