Police chief pledges full support for arrests, raids in boat blast probe

Police chief pledges full support for arrests, raids in boat blast probe
October 15 19:03 2015

In a meeting with the commissioned officers of the Maldives Police Service today, Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has pledged full support for an inquiry into an explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat and pledged to bring perpetrators to justice.

According to a police press release today, Waheed urged officers to back the probe, and said the inquiry into the apparent assassination attempt is of top priority. The police “will not hesitate” to make the necessary arrests or raids, he declared, the statement read.

Yameen escaped unhurt from the September 28 explosion on the presidential speedboat, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim remains hospitalized for minor bone fractures to her spine.

The president has set up a six-member inquiry commission of high-ranking military and police officers to investigate the blast. A multi-national team of forensic experts were brought in soon after the blast.

Three soldiers have been arrested.

Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel was sacked on Wednesday. The head of the military unit tasked with providing security for state officials and the police intelligence chief were also replaced in what appears to be a shakeup of the security forces.

Two of Vice President Ahmed Adeeb’s bodyguards have been suspended, while the apartment of a top tourism official, also a close associate of the vice president, was raided on Wednesday night. Police also attempted to enter the home of an influential businessman related to Adeeb on the same night.

The raids, which came a day after Adeeb departed for Beijing, has added fuel to the speculation that the vice president is a suspect in the boat blast probe.

On the eve of his departure Adeeb publicly declared his unwavering loyalty to Yameen for a second time and denounced rumors of his involvement in the attack.

The president, however, had reportedly expressed “500 percent confidence” in his deputy at a meeting on Monday with more than 50 MPs of the ruling coalition and its former partner Jumhooree Party. Yameen had also met police commissioner Waheed the day before.

Briefing the commissioned officers, Waheed said the boat blast investigation team has access to all of the police’s forces resources. No one must be allowed the opportunity to destabilize the country, he stressed.

Police officers must increase patrols, he said, and called for a stepping up of measures to maintain peace and order.

Armed soldiers have been patrolling Malé’s streets since Sunday.

Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin is meanwhile out of the country on an unannounced personal trip. The PG is an independent official authorized to press criminal charges on behalf of the state.

Correction: October 17, 2015: This article previously said two soldiers and an immigration official were arrested in connection to the boat blast. This is incorrect. All three arrested over the explosion are MNDF officers. An immigration official was never arrested in this case.