Home minister vows to ‘find the truth’ behind Rilwan’s disappearance

Home minister vows to ‘find the truth’ behind Rilwan’s disappearance
October 27 16:30 2015

Home Minister Umar Naseer met with the family of missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan this morning and assured them of the government’s commitment to “find the truth” behind the unexplained disappearance.

Rilwan, a reporter with this paper, was last seen on August 8, 2014 on a ferry to Hulhumalé. He is believed to have been abducted at knifepoint outside his apartment building in the capital’s suburb.

Rilwan’s sister, Fathmath Shehenaz, told The Maldives Independent that the family had requested the meeting with the home minister.

The family asked for further consideration of the case in light of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s arrest on Saturday, noting rumours linking him to Rilwan’s disappearance.

“Since Adeeb is now under arrest over another case, we thought we could get a development in the case. The minister said that nothing will be missed. This gave our family hope,” she said.

The vice president is under custody on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen. Naseer is the co-chair of an inquiry commission formed to investigate the blast on the president’s speedboat on September 28.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Rilwan’s family had called for an independent inquiry into Rilwan’s disappearance.

In late August, Reporters Without Borders referred Rilwan’s case to the UN working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

Earlier in the month, police officers pepper sprayed Rilwan’s mother and other family members at a memorial walk held to mark one year after his disappearance.

In July, the police claimed that there is no evidence linking Rilwan’s disappearance with an abduction reported outside his apartment around the time he would have reached home.

The police said they have received DNA analysis of samples taken from three cars suspected to have been used in the abduction, but could not “conclusively state” that there was a connection between the incident and Rilwan’s disappearance.

Four suspects had been arrested in September 2014 and one suspect was held in police custody for five weeks, but the criminal court transferred him to house arrest in November.

One of the suspects was among a group of 12 Maldivian jihadis who traveled to Syria in January. The group also included Azlif Rauf, a suspect in the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012, who reportedly died while fighting in Syria in mid-May.

An investigative report published by Maldivian Democratic Network had identified Azlif’s brother Arlif Rauf as the owner of the red car which may have been used in Rilwan’s suspected abduction.

The report implicated radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance and confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of the Malé-based Kuda Henveiru gang led by the Rauf brothers.

The home minister had also also acknowledged involvement of criminal gangs in the case.

A petition with 5,500 signatures calling for a speedy investigation was submitted to the parliament last year, but remains stalled at a pro-government-majority committee.

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