Colonel’s military detention amounts to “enforced disappearance”

Colonel’s military detention amounts to “enforced disappearance”
December 20 19:30 2015

The family of Colonel Ahmed Fayaz ‘Papa’ has filed a missing person’s report at the police following the criminal court’s refusal to accept a case challenging his administrative detention.

Fayaz, the former head of the military’s special protection unit, has been held at the military barracks since mid-October over the September 28 blast on the president’s speedboat.

The government says a bomb targeting President Abdulla Yameen caused the explosion. Three soldiers from the Explosives Ordnance Disposal unit were among the first suspects arrested in connection to the alleged assassination attempt. The explosives experts are accused of tampering with evidence.

Fayaz was also in charge of the EOD unit as well as the armoury.

The detained colonel’s lawyer, Mahfooz Saeed, told The Maldives Independent that the criminal court had rejected a request for an order to the defence ministry to present Fayaz at court.

The criminal court’s registrar had rejected the case citing a letter from the defence ministry, Mahfooz explained, which stated that Fayaz was not being detained at any military facility.

“If the state refuses to acknowledge having a person under imprisonment, it places the person outside the protection of the law and it could legally qualify as an enforced disappearance,” he contended.

Despite the defence ministry’s official denial, Fayaz’s family is still able to contact him on the phone, Mahfooz noted.

Mahfooz also said that he is planning to ask the criminal court’s judicial council for a review of the decision on the habeas corpus case. Habeas corpus refers to legal action for detainees to seek relief from unlawful imprisonment.

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.

Major Adnan Mohamed, spokesperson of the Maldives National Defence Force, refused to comment or respond to any questions regarding Fayaz.

“It is MNDF policy not to comment to the media regarding individuals placed under administrative detention,” he said.

Mahfooz previously told The Maldives Independent that Fayaz’s detention cannot be considered administrative as he is being interrogated in relation to 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.

Two days ago, Fayaz was demoted to the rank of captain.

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 minor explosion, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim was hospitalised for two months over minor 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.

“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 [Special Protection Group], 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.”