The lawyer of detained Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed has accused police of planting a device under her chair to secretly record a private meeting with her client.
Hisaan Hussain told the press Wednesday afternoon that officers at the police detention centre on Dhoonidhoo island were unable to provide an explanation when she showed them the red tape recorder.
“We get access to our clients after rigorous security screening,” she said. “We go through metal detectors and can’t take anything except a piece of paper and a police-approved pen. When there are this many security measures in place, how does a tape recorder end up under my chair?”
In a brief statement, police dismissed the allegation as an attempt to tarnish its reputation and “damage the goodwill of police.” But the complaint will be investigated, it added.
“The place where lawyers meet with persons being held under police custody is designed to ensure privacy and freedom to communicate. The police service guarantees this,” said police spokesman Ahmed Shifan.
Chief Justice Saeed was arrested last month shortly after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in reaction to a shock ruling for the release of nine prisoners. Saeed is accused of plotting a coup with former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Justice Ali Hameed and others in detention.
Hisaan said several lawyers and policemen saw the tape recorder.
“When we questioned them they asked us to speak to senior officers and they asked us to meet in private. They can’t dismiss this easily,” Hisaan said.
Mahfooz Saeed, a lawyer present in Dhoonidhoo, said: “This shows how desperate the police are, that despite their claims of evidence against [state of emergency detainees] they don’t have any and are hoping to get something by recording these confidential meetings.
“Secretly listening to a conversation is a crime under the penal code. We will take individual action against every policeman in Dhoonidhoo.”
Shahindha Ismail, executive director of the Maldivian Democracy Network, accused police of “systematically violating the privacy” of all suspects detained under emergency powers.
“Placing a tape recorder in this instance is clearly breaching attorney-client privilege. The system where families need to conduct visits via telephone and a glass panel in between, flanked by policemen on either side is also a violation of privacy,” she told the Maldives Independent.