Maldivian Democratic Party office vandalised

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) main office on Sosun Magu in the capital Malé was vandalised last night.

A group of people on motorbikes reportedly threw large stones at the office around midnight, smashing the outer windows.

Equipment at the reception area was also damaged. On Monday, the main opposition party asked police to investigate death threats made against its MPs and senior members, who the party said were also being followed.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News earlier this week that death threats have become too commonplace to publicise each incident.

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Police arrest MDP activist accused of vandalism during protest

Police have arrested a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activist on allegations that he had vandalised a CCTV camera on Chandhanee Magu and attacked a police officer during an MDP protest on October 5.

In a statement, police said that Kamil Ibrahim of Beach Rest house in Ukulhas North Ari Atoll, was arrested yesterday (2 October) at around 11:30pm in a special operation conducted by the police, while he was staying at a house named Bahurein in Maafannu ward.

Police said that on October 5, Kamil Ibrahim broke through the police barricades and entered the green zone, vandalized a police CCTV camera installed in the junction where Chandhanee Magu and Orchid Magu meets and attacked a police officer in the area after threatening several police officers using a weapon and attempting to assault police officers.

Police said that the special operation was conducted after intelligence received information that Kamil was hiding in the house.

It was also revealed that two other men, suspected of being accomplices in hiding Kamil, have been sent summon chits to produce themselves to the police headquarters.

On October 13, police had issued a statement warning that legal action will be taken against anyone who assists Kamil Ibrahim in hiding from police.

On October 5, the MDP held a large protest calling for immediate elections. The meeting was attended by several senior MDP members and MPs including vice presidential candidate Dr Mustafa Lutfi, Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy, Ahmed Rasheed, Ahmed Sameer, Mohamed Shifaz, Mohamed Gasam and Ahmed Easa

The following day police issued a statement announcing that 12 MDP activists were arrested on charges of assaulting police officers, disobeying police orders, and obstructing police duties.

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Man arrested for vandalism of Indian High Commissioner’s Car

The police have arrested a 22 year-old suspect in connection with the vandalism of the Indian High Commissioner’s Car on Monday (October 28).

The police obtained a warrant from the Criminal Court to arrest the man, but have not provided any further details on the case. The case is being investigated by the Serious and Organised Crime Department.

The rear window of High Commissioner Rajeeve Shahare’s car was smashed on Monday evening whilst parked outside of the High Commission in Male’.

A statement released by the Indian High Commission described the attack, noting that a police officer was observed by High Commission security staff as witnessing the attack but failing to react.

“The Indian High Commission security guards observed on the close circuit TV that the culprit purposefully approached the Indian flag car, pelted two metallic objects at the car one of which smashed the rear windshield, and ran away thereafter,” said the statement.

“It is evident that there was malicious intention to cause damage to the property and perhaps to the occupant of the car. Importantly, the High Commissioner was in the car just a few minutes before the attack,” it continued.

The President’s Office on October 29 assured that such “cowardly” attacks against foreign diplomatic personnel and property would not be tolerated.

“The close and friendly relation that exists between the Maldives and India is based on mutual respect, understanding and reinforced by a shared vision of a better future for our people,” it said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also expressed concern over the attack on the diplomatic vehicle.

“The Ministry wishes to call on all members of the public to refrain from activities that might undermine the close friendly relations that exist between Maldives and its close and friendly neighbours,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (October 29).

The Maldives’ traditionally close ties with India have come under increasing strain under the current government, with the cancellation of a deal to develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport  in December 2012 the most contentious issue.

The 25-year, US$500million, lease signed with Indian infrastructure company GMR was terminated after a long and at times xenophobic campaign from government-aligned parties.

The campaign sparked a diplomatic row after President’s Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza accused Indian High Commissioner D.M. Mulay of being a “traitor and enemy of the Maldives and the Maldivian people”.

The President’s Office quickly distanced itself from these remarks. Both men have since left their posts.

GMR is currently seeking US$1.4billion in compensation in a Singaporean court of arbitration – a figure greater than the Maldives’ annual state budget.

On February 15 this year, the Indian government revoked a special quota afforded to the Maldives for the import of aggregate and river sand, resulting in a weakening of the construction sector in 2013.

The Indian High Commission itself became the scene of political drama as former President Nasheed temporarily sought refuge inside the diplomatic mission after police attempted to arrest him to ensure his appearance in court.

Following Monday’s attack, the Maldivian Democratic Party described the rhetoric of the past few months as “hate mongering targeting Indian officials.”

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Foreign Ministry condemns attack on Indian High Commissioner’s car

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the vandalism of the Indian High Commissioner’s car on Monday night (October 28).

“The Ministry is deeply concerned that a diplomatic vehicle was subjected to vandalism. The Maldives Police Service is currently investigating the case and the perpetrators will be brought to justice,” read the statement.

“The Ministry wishes to call on all members of the public to refrain from activities that might undermine the close friendly relations that exist between Maldives and its close and friendly neighbours,” the ministry said in a statement yesterday (October 29).”

The Maldivian Democratic Party have also released a statement today, calling for the safety of Indian diplomats to be assured.

“After months of hate mongering targeting Indian officials, it is deeply saddening to see such regrettable incidents against our Indian friends. Maldives and India share an invaluable friendship and we must continue to strengthen our relationship through dialogue, not through intimidation and violence”

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High Court upholds seven year prison sentence for throwing rocks at VTV

The High Court has upheld a Criminal Court ruling sentencing a man found guilty of throwing stones at private broadcaster VTV to seven years imprisonment.

Eight men including Mohamed Hameed were given seven year sentences for throwing stones outside the station during anti-government protests on March 19, 2012.

The demonstrators were protesting the new President Dr Mohamed Waheed from giving the opening address to the first session of parliament, following his controversial arrival to power the previous month.

In addition to Hameed, the Criminal Court also sentenced Ismail Hammaadh of Maduvvari in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Hameeed and Hussein Hameed of Alifushi in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Naeem of Henveiru Ladhumaageaage, Hussein Shifau Jameel of Maafannu Nooruzeyru, Aanim Hassan of Ferishoo in North Ali Atoll, Ahmed Muheen of Galolhu Haalam and Mohamed Hameed for vandalising the channel.

The building, as well as the soldiers guarding its entrance on Sosun Magu, came under attack as police tear gas forced the protesters south, past the building from the police barricades near to the parliament building.

Appealing the sentence, Hameed argued that it was extraordinary practice for the court to impose the maximum possible sentence on a first time offender with no criminal record.

However the High Court, noting that the sentence was three to seven years, deferred to the discretion of the Criminal Court judge.

VTV is owned by MP Gasim Ibrahim, a resort tycoon, presidential candidate and member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) tasked with disciplining the judiciary.

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“No idea” why criminal court has taken so long to process museum vandalism case: PG’s Office

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has revealed it has “no idea” as to why two individuals charged with vandalising the national museum last year have yet to be brought to justice.

The two men, accused of damaging archaeological evidence of Maldives’ pre-Islamic Civilisation in the national museum in Male’ on February 7, 2012, failed to attend their trial hearing at Criminal Court scheduled for today (February 25).

A media official from the PG’s Office told Minivan News that the two suspects had originally been charged between September and October last year, but were yet to face trial in court.

Asked as to why the Criminal Court had taken so long to process the case, the media official said “we have no idea”.

The official was then asked if the PG’s Office had made any attempt to question the court over the delayed trial, to which he responded: “No, we haven’t questioned the court, we have taken no action yet.”

Last month private broadcaster Raajje TV aired leaked security camera footage showing a group of men vandalising around 35 exhibits after they stormed the museum amid the political chaos of February 7 last year.

Police in May 2012 forwarded cases against four suspects to the PG’s office, however the case was initially returned to police for further clarification.

Speaking to Minivan News, Police Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz said the case was then sent to the PG’s Office on July 8, 2012.

Local media reported that two men – Mohamed Nishan of M. Haadhoo and Yousuf Rilwan of G. Adimagu – were due to attend a trial hearing at 10:00am this morning over charges relating to the case.

However, a Judiciary Media Unit official said the hearing was cancelled after the two defendants did not receive their summoning chit to the Criminal Court.

“The chit was sent by the court to the homes of the defendants, but they did not receive it. So now the court will have to send a new summoning chit for a new trial hearing,” the official added.

Minivan News contacted the Criminal Court Spokesperson who, when asked for information regarding the case, gave an unclear response. When Minivan News asked for clarification, the spokesperson hung up.

Minivan News then attempted to contact the spokesperson, but he was not responding to calls at time of press.

“99 percent of Maldives’ pre-Islamic history destroyed”

According to museum director Ali Waheed, the vandals destroyed “99 percent” of the evidence of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic history prior to the 12th century, including a 1.5-foot-wide representation of the Buddha’s head – one of the most historically significant pieces at the museum.

An official at the museum told Minivan News following the incident that the group “deliberately targeted the Buddhist relics and ruins of monasteries exhibited in the pre-Islamic collection, destroying most items beyond repair.”

“This is not like a glass we use at home that can be replaced by buying a new one from a shop. These are originals from our ancestors’ time. These cannot be replaced ever again,” the official said.

In September 2012, the United States government donated US$ 20,000 (MVR 308,400) to help restore and repair the damaged artifacts, as part of an effort to preserve Maldivian cultural heritage.

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Museum vandalism “tremendous loss to our country, our culture and our history: former President

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has expressed “deep concern” over leaked CCTV footage of a group of men vandalising archaeological evidence of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic civilisation in the national museum in Male’.

The incident took place amid the political turmoil of February 7 at around 11:30am in the morning, as police and military officers turned on the Nasheed administration in nearby Republic Square.

The extensive CCTV footage shows a group of eight men entering the building while a ninth appears to stand watch outside. A museum staff member sitting at the desk in the lobby stands up as the men enter, and is grabbed and shoved out of view. The group search the ground floor before running upstairs, knocking over display cases and smashing the museum’s collection of ancient Buddhist relics.

Around 35 exhibits were damaged or destroyed, including the museum’s most significant treasure – a carved ancient head of Gautama Buddha discovered in Alif Alif Atoll Thoddu, dating back to the 6th century.

Police in May 2012 forwarded cases against four suspects to the Prosecutor General’s office. According to the PG’s office, the case was initially returned to police for further clarification. The case has now been returned by police and the PG intends to make a decision by the end of next week, Minivan News understands.

“This misguided act of vandalism caused tremendous loss to our country, our culture and our history. A narrative based on hatred and extremism was deliberately whipped up by those currently in power in order to justify the coup in February last year. That same narrative, and the climate of intolerance and impunity it created, also led to the vandalism at the museum,” former President Nasheed stated.

“Extremist behaviour, and a hatred of other cultures and countries, is very real in the Maldives today. The continual denial of this sorry state of affairs by the current regime is deeply troubling,” he added.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mariya Ahmed Didi alleged the government’s inaction on the matter amounted to “state-backed protection” of the perpetrators.

“I am very concerned by the failure of the authorities to take any action against the museum vandals. The Maldives Police Service and the prosecutor general have abdicated their responsibility to act,” she said.

The vandalism was widely reported by international media outlets, many of which were present in the country to cover the political turmoil at the time.

In September 2012, the United States government donated US$ 20,000 (MVR 308,400) to help restore and repair the damaged artefacts, as part of an effort to preserve Maldivian cultural heritage.

Leaked museum CCTV footage:





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Eight men charged with VTV vandalism sentenced for seven years

The Criminal Court has sentenced eight men charged with the vandalism of private TV station Villa TV (VTV) to seven years imprisonment.

The court ruled that the witnesses produced by the state told the court they saw the eight men throw stones at VTV security personnel and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officials outside the building and that the testimony was enough to find the accused guilty of the crime.

The judge also said the court was produced with video footage and pictures of the events that day.

The Prosecutor General (PG) had pressed charges against Ismail Hammaadh of Maduvvari in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Hameeed and Hussein Hameed of Alifushi in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Naeem of Henveiru Ladhumaageaage, Hussein Shifau Jameel of Maafannu Nooruzeyru, Aanim Hassan of Ferishoo in North Ali Atoll, Ahmed Muheen of Galolhu Haalam and Mohamed Hameed for vandalising VTV.

The attack on the television station occurred during protests against the re-opening of the People’s Majlis on March 19. The building, as well as the soldiers guarding its entrance on Sosun Magu, came under attack as police tear gas forced the protesters south, past the building from the police barricades nearer to the Majlis building.

President Dr Mohamed 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 sparked major unrest in the capital Male’.

Villa TV is owned by resort tycoon, Jumhoree Party (JP) leader and MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim, who is in a coalition with Dr Waheed’s government. Gasim is also a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the body charged with oversight of the judiciary.

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Criminal Court begins hearing VTV vandalism case

The Criminal Court has commenced the trial of five men accused of vandalising the offices of private broadcaster Villa Television (VTV) during protests held in Male’, on the day President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik delivered his inaugural Presidential Speech.

VTV is owned by Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, which is represented in President Waheed’s coalition government.

The Prosecutor General (PG) has pressed charges against Ismail Hammaadh of Maduvvari in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Hameeed and Hussein Hameed of Alifushi in Raa Atoll, Ahmed Naeem of Henveiru Ladhumaageaage, Hussein Shifau Jameel of Maafannu Nooruzeyru, Aanim Hassan of Ferishoo in North Ali Atoll, Ahmed Muheen of Galolhu Haalam and Mohamed Hameed.

Newspaper ‘Haveeru’ reported that a lawyer representing the PG’s Office pressed charges against the five suspects for their alleged violation of legislation banning threatening behaviour and the possession of sharp weapons.

All of the respondents have denied the charges against them.

Local media reported that the PG’s Office lawyer was given the opportunity to produce evidence including witness statements, pictures and video footage provided by VTV staff present at the area when the incident occurred.  Police and MNDF officers were also produced to the court for their accounts.

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’.

Following violent confrontations between civilians and security forces during the day, 99 people were arrested, with a number of security officers and protesters reported injured.

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

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