Colonel detained over boat blast challenges administrative detention

Colonel detained over boat blast challenges administrative detention
December 10 17:22 2015

Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz’s lawyer has challenged his administrative detention at the military barracks, seeking an order declaring the senior officer’s continuing detention arbitrary and illegal.

Fayaz, who was in charge of the Special Protection Group tasked with providing security to the president and other high-ranking officials of the state, has been detained at the military barracks since early-October over the September 28 blast on the president’s speedboat.

The government says a bomb targeting President Abdulla Yameen caused the explosion. Fayaz was also in charge of the armoury and the military’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit.

Three soldiers from the EOD unit were among the first suspects arrested in connection to the alleged assassination attempt. The explosives experts are accused of tampering with evidence.

Fayaz’s lawyer Mahfooz Saeed told The Maldives Independent that the colonel had informed his family that he was being questioned over alleged criminal offences.

“Article 48 of the constitution clearly stipulates the procedures to follow with regard to individuals suspected of committing criminal offences. [Fayaz] has not been afforded the right legal counsel and he has not been brought in front of a judge,” he said.

The criminal court has been asked to declare the detention unlawful and to order the ministry of defence and national security to immediately release Fayaz.

Mahfooz also explained that Fayaz’s family has not been informed of the reason for the continued detention. The defence ministry has not yet replied to a request made on December 2 for Mahfooz to meet his client, he added.

Major Adnan Mohamed, spokesperson of the Maldives National Defence Force, told The Maldives Independent: “It is MNDF policy not to comment on media regarding individuals placed under administrative detention.”

According to article 44 of the Defence Forces Act, military personnel can be placed under administrative detention for a period not exceeding 220 days in an institution of the armed forces for misconduct.

However, Mahfooz contended that Fayaz’s detention is not administrative as he is being interrogated in relation to a criminal offence.

Shortly after the ‘Finifenma’ speedboat blast, Fayaz was removed as head of the president’s security detail and appointed Malé Area Commander.

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and several of his associates are also under custody on suspicion of plotting to assassinate the president.

Yameen escaped unhurt from the explosion, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim was hospitalised for two months for spine injuries. A presidential aide and a military bodyguard also sustained injuries.

In his first public address after the speedboat blast, Yameen said Adeeb had siphoned funds from the lease of islands for resort development to gain undue influence over the security forces.

Yameen acknowledged that the transfer of the former police chief and his two deputies were prompted by “the extent of the vice president’s influence.”

“Things were similar in the army. Within the army, one man was in charge of three of the most powerful departments. He has been detained at the military headquarters,” Yameen said, referring to Colonel Fayaz.

“He was the head of the SPG, the unit that provides security to the president. Because I trusted him, he was also in charge of ordinances or explosives and weapons armory. The EOD department that checks for explosives and disposes of them is also under Fayaz’s watch. Fayaz was in charge of all three departments. That is why he has been placed under arrest,” he said.