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Inquiry commission seeks Rilwan abduction suspect

The commission posted video footage of the male suspect.



The presidential commission on unresolved murders and enforced disappearances has appealed for public assistance in finding a person of interest in the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan five years ago.

The inquiry commission posted a video on Monday of the male suspect waiting in the vehicle queue at the Hulhumalé ferry terminal around 12:20am on August 8, 2014, shortly before Rilwan was last seen entering the terminal in Malé around 12:45am.

The commission urged anyone with information about the man to come forward. He was wearing a white shirt and driving a red motorcycle.

The Maldives Independent journalist was abducted at knifepoint outside his apartment in the capital’s suburb and murdered at sea by a local extremist group affiliated with al-Qaeda, the presidential commission concluded after a 10-month inquiry. The commission’s chair Husnu Suood disclosed findings earlier this month and shared a draft report with parliament but the inquiry is still ongoing.

More than a week after Suood’s press briefing, police raided 17 locations in Malé and Addu City and searched 11 suspects after the commission obtained search warrants from the criminal court. The two-day operation, which included a search at sea, concluded without any arrests.

Travel bans have been imposed on 15 suspects after the commission sought court orders to withhold their passports.

Days after Rilwan was reported missing, the Maldives Independent (formerly Minivan News) obtained CCTV footage from the ferry terminal that showed the 28-year-old entering the waiting area at 12:44am. Analysis of the footage conducted with security experts with experience in counter-terrorism flagged a number of men who appeared to be tracking Rilwan’s movements before boarding the same 1:00am ferry.

private investigation commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network – which implicated radicalised gangs 45 days after the abduction – confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal by two known affiliates of the Malé-based Kuda Henveiru gang.

“It is entirely possible that their task was to provide advance notification of Rilwan’s arrival at the terminal and confirmation of his boarding the ferry,” the investigation report stated.