Three suspected gang members wanted by the police to enforce monitoring and control orders voluntarily handed themselves over last night.
Upon request by the police and the home ministry, the High Court issued the first ‘MoniCon’ orders last week to tag 11 gang members under the controversial 2015 Anti-Terrorism Act.
Six young men were tagged on Thursday while the court issued a second batch of ‘MoniCon’ orders on the same day for five more alleged gang members.
The police explained yesterday that two of the five suspects are presently in custody in relation to ongoing investigations. After the police launched a manhunt for the other suspects and informed the media on Saturday, the three young men turned themselves in at the police headquarters last night.
The police said the 11 men singled out for tagging have repeatedly committed serious crimes and pose a danger to society.
In addition to attaching electronic tags to their feets in order to monitor their whereabouts, the police are also authorised to control their communications and financial transactions and require them to periodically sign in at the police headquarters.
Electronic tagging devices can also be placed in the suspect’s home environment.
The suspects must stay indoors between 10:00pm and 6:00am, seek the home minister’s permission to leave the capital, and avoid areas restricted by the order.
Home Minister Umar Naseer told local media that the suspects will be “taken straight to jail” if they violate the curfew.
Citing an anonymous senior official at the home ministry, the opposition-aligned Raajje TV meanwhile reported yesterday that Naseer had threatened to resign last week when President Abdulla Yameen allegedly tried to “sabotage” his plans to monitor gang members.
But the president reportedly acquiesced and allowed the home minister to proceed.
According to Raajje TV, Naseer sought the MoniCon orders because he feared the criminal court would release suspects taken before judges for remand hearings.
Earlier this month, Naseer had publicly criticised the court’s decision to release murder suspects as “irresponsible”.
The MoniCon orders were also issued after two gangs in Malé accused the police of covering up an “illegal and unprovoked” assault by Specialist Operations officers on the night of March 18 that left many injured. The police are accused of ransacking three gang hangouts and beating up several young men, many of whom required medical treatment.
Sources told The Maldives Independent station that the incident occurred after a police officer intervened when some gang members had tried to leave a restaurant without paying the bill. The officer was allegedly assaulted by the gang members, who also later found the officer’s home and threatened his family.
When senior police officers failed to take immediate action, the source said the beaten SO officers’ colleagues acted on their own and raided the three gang hangouts.
Victims of the assault told The Maldives Independent that some 24 officers in riot gear had barged into Masodige in Galholhu ward and Jade in Maafannu ward without court warrants. Many had to seek medical attention for injuries, they said.
Raajje TV also reported that some 13 SO officers were briefly suspended, but a police spokesperson denied the claim.
An SO officer meanwhile told CNM that it would not be fair to investigate the elite officers without taking into account the negligence of senior officers.