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Court releases ex-Special Ops policemen

The eight ex-policemen were arrested during February’s state of emergency.



The criminal court has released eight former Specialist Operations police officers who were arrested during February’s state of emergency on charges of conspiring to topple the government.

The eight men were detained until the conclusion of trial but prosecutors reportedly told the court there was no longer any reason to hold them in custody.

SO commander Saif Hussain and station inspector Faiz Mohamed were released Wednesday. Sergeant Ahmed Asim, sergeant Ali Rishwan, sergeant Abdulla Riyaz, corporal Ali Naseer, corporal Hassan Naseer, and corporal Mohamed Shamin were released after hearings on Thursday.

The court previously transferred them from the high-security Maafushi prison to house arrest. They were dismissed from the Maldives Police Service while in custody.

The eight Specials Ops officers were accused of planning to violently confront on-duty police officers after a shock Supreme Court order for the release of nine prisoners.

They faced charges on numerous counts, including failure to perform official duties, obstruction of law enforcement and disrupting public order. The SO commanders were also charged under the 2015 anti-terrorism law with “exerting an undesirable influence on the government or the state” and aiding an act of terrorism.

Former police commissioner Ahmed Areef, who was sacked after he tried to execute the Supreme Court order, was accused of trying to incite unrest by making changes to police operations and bringing together handpicked individuals to confront police officers on duty.

Areef was among several high-profile detainees freed by the courts after President Abdulla Yameen’s defeat in the September 23 election.

Photo by Aminath Nadira