A former senior policy executive at the education ministry has been transferred to house arrest after more than a month in police custody on suspicion of plotting to assassinate a judge.
Ibrahim Haneef was arrested on April 4 on terrorism charges for allegedly plotting to assassinate High Court Judge Shujau Usman. The criminal court extended his remand detention four times before transferring him to house arrest on Tuesday.
The criminal court placed Haneef under house arrest for 15 days at yesterday’s remand hearing, a police spokesman said.
The high court previously upheld the lower court’s detention orders upon appeal, ruling that the evidence presented by the police was sufficient to implicate Haneef’s involvement in a serious criminal offence.
According to the high court ruling issued on April 20, Haneef posed a threat to public safety.
Haneef was summoned to the police headquarters on April 4 and his mobile phone was confiscated before his arrest on the same day. He was dismissed from his post at the education ministry following the arrest.
Newspaper Mihaaru reported at the time that the alleged assassination attempt was foiled after audio recordings were leaked. Haneef was suspected of planning to hire a gang to assault and kill the high court judge.
According to online paper VFP, Haneef is a close associate of MP Saud Hussain of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, who pledged support to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s reform efforts in early April.
Soon after Saud joined the Gayoom faction of the divided ruling party, several government officials close to the MP were dismissed from their posts.
Shazail Siyam, Saud’s brother-in-law of, was dismissed as deputy tourism minister on April 12. He was not given a reason for the dismissal.
“I was doing my best to serve this government. I am happy with my commitment to the government. But now that I have been dismissed without a reason, I believe that it comes because of my connection to Saud,” he told the press.
Shafiz Moosa, also a close associate of Saud, was dismissed as the manager of Gaaf Alif atoll hospital. Shafiz was reportedly appointed to the post on the request of MP Saud.
The day after his dismissal, the hospital’s staff observed a moment of silence and wore black to work, Sun Online reported.
Saud said in a tweet that “the government has lost loyal servicemen with the dismissal of Shafiz, Ibrahim Haneef and Shazail. Proud of them”.
Saud, who represents the Villingili constituency in Gaaf Alif atoll, was not responding to calls at the time of publication.
The lawmaker joined the Gayoom faction of the divided ruling party in early April. “Maumoon is PPM and PPM is Maumoon. His service cannot be erased from the nation,” he tweeted.
Judge Shujau Usman was meanwhile transferred to the high court’s southern branch in Addu City in June 2016.
Local media reported in February that he was moved back to the main branch in the capital over threats to his life in the southernmost atoll.
Following reports suggesting that the judge was taken into custody and brought to Malé, the police said at the time that he was provided security upon request.
Usman previously served as a judge at the criminal court and presided over the trials of high-profile politicians including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in early 2015.