Secret witness testimonies related to the terror trials of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, his son Faris and two top judges have been leaked on Twitter. Police have confirmed the testimonies are authentic and are investigating the leaks. Following are translations of the testimonies.
Shiyam Ibrahim (former supporter of ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom): I have been a Gayoom supporter since 2007 and am friends with the Gayoom family. Yumna Maumoon’s husband Nadheem calls and informs me whenever there is a Gayoom event. I attend these events and I am very close to Gayoom so I also attend meetings with him. I also manage security at Endherimaage [Gayoom residence] when I am there. I know those who come and go to meet Gayoom and his family. I am aware of their political discussions and meetings. I remain a Gayoom supporter.
Police Sergeant Mohamed Asif: On February 1 2018 around 9 pm, my squad was ordered to go near the Maldivian Democratic Party campaign hall to clear the streets of protesters and ease traffic. We were later divided into three groups and sent to three different areas around the campaign hall. At around 915 pm, I heard about the Supreme Court order while we were monitoring the area. Later Inspector of Police Shaif Hussain was leading a group towards us and charged right through the police shields of the officers who were on duty. They tried to assault us but we were able to control them and the group left immediately.
Civil Court Judge Mohamed Haleem: I have been working at the civil court for the past three years and the court’s senior judge, Abdulla Ali, has always advised me to issue rulings as directed by Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed. In the case concerning the ownership of Haveeru News, Ali took me to the Supreme Court, with all the case files and the verdict I had written, to discuss it with Hameed. He told me that the discussion was taking place on behalf of Saeed. Then he changed the verdict and told me to issue the new verdict. The initial ruling that I wrote does not have any part related to the employees of Haveeru. It was Hameed who added a part that restricted Haveeru staff from working in any media outlet. After I issued a ruling on a case related to the PPM (Progressive Party of Maldives) in 2016, Hameed and Saeed began to directly contact me.
In January 2017, Hameed called me via WhatsApp regarding the tourism ministry decision to take back Kaadedhoo airport from Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Air. He said: “Villa Air has submitted a case. Gasim Ibrahim and the state have come to a settlement. Someone’s private property cannot just be taken away like that. I need you to issue a temporary order against the tourism ministry by 31 January to halt the takeover of the airport.”
I told him I was on leave and that I would be back at work in late January. When I started work, my section in the court had not received the case. I informed him of this when he called again on 29 January. I travelled to Sri Lanka with my family that afternoon and he called me about the case. I was on leave on 30 and 31 January. On the last day of January, Judge Ali Naseer called to tell me that the Villa Air case ended at the dispute resolution stage and that it had been forwarded to my section. Soon after that, Hameed contacted me and told me to rule in favour of Villa Air. I came to Malé on the evening of 31 January and issued the ruling as ordered by Hameed. He sent me a message through WhatsApp: “THANK YOU BROTHER.” I don’t have any of his messages now because this is a new phone. Also, in another case involving Universal and Maizan Mohamed Manik, Hameed instructed me to rule in favour of Manik. But I did not follow his order and he stopped calling me. Earlier this year on 10 January, I met Hameed in Sri Lanka airport. He asked me where I was going so I told him I was headed to Chennai. He told me he was travelling to the Netherlands and that he was waiting for someone. I have noticed that Saeed is always present when Hameed calls me regarding a case. I know this because Saeed sometimes speaks with me from Hameed’s phone. They influenced me to issue rulings in their favour by saying that it is what President Abdulla Yameen wants. I now realise they were using their influence for personal reasons.
Criminal Court Judge Adam Arif: On February 1 2018, Judicial Administrator Hassan Saeed called me at dusk and advised me to stay in court because the Supreme Court judges bench was deliberating on an important matter and a crucial order would be released that night. I told him I was already home and that I would go to court later that night. I saw the breaking news about the order while I was at home. Then I went to the court with police assistance at around 10pm that night. I was in court when Hassan called again. He put the phone on speaker and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed advised me to be careful of politicians when issuing warrants. I told him arrest warrants were earlier issued for MPs Sinan and Ilham. Justice Ali Hameed said all politicians who were ordered for detention with evidence connected to Faris can no longer be arrested. A few minutes later, I heard the news that Yumna Maumoon’s husband Ahmed Nadheem has been arrested. I called police and ordered them to summon him to court, but they said it was impossible because of the situation in Malé. The following day, February 2, I ordered the release of Nadheem, Ilham and Sinan based on the advice of the top two judges. Later that day, I found out that Hassan had been arrested. Saeed called me and wanted to know why I had issued an order for the judicial administrator’s arrest. I informed him that the order was issued by Judge Ahmed Hailam. Saeed got upset and said “Who is this Ahmed Hailam? He is just a judge in training and he cannot issue orders like that.” Then Saeed demanded I cancel the order, but I refused. I told him I don’t see any reason to cancel the order. He threatened to take actions against me and I could hear Justice Ali Hameed speaking in the background. That night, the Supreme Court issued an order for Hassan’s release and ordered the Criminal Court to hand over his case files. So I forwarded the files to the Supreme Court director general. I now believe that Saeed and Hameed ordered the release of political prisoners on 1 February for personal motives.
Zaidul Ameen (former Gayoom supporter): I used to visit Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed to give him instructions on how to deliver rulings. I did this on behalf of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. I acted as a medium between the two. When Gayoom wants to speak with Hameed, I call the justice on my phone and make arrangements for Gayoom to communicate with him. In 2013, I moved to Hameed’s apartment on orders from Gayoom. I lived there for about two or three months. I know that they mostly communicate about court decisions. Hameed issued rulings when he gets instructions from Gayoom. I know this because both of them have personally discussed this with me. I am also aware that Gayoom spends lavishly for Hameed, his family and properties. I have seen Gayoom’s son Faris Maumoon and Gayoom’s relative and close aide Ahmed Sofwan (who is now in self-exile in India) visit Hameed’s apartment to give him the cash. I don’t know how much they have spent in total because the money is given in different amounts on various days. I know that the money was given so that Hameed can change court rulings as demanded by Gayoom. I also became close friends with Hameed during the time I lived in his apartment. He told me that he gets financial assistance from jailed former vice president Ahmed Adeeb, jailed former defence minister Mohamed Nazim and self-exiled opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim. On the night before the Supreme Court ruling on the PPM case (2017), I was sent to the apartment to deliver a message. Gayoom asked Hameed to “issue a favorable ruling tomorrow and to let us know what you want in return.”
Then the pair talked on my phone and I heard Hameed say “things will ends well” and that “we now have a tyrant for a leader, even judges are afraid of him.” I went back to the Gayoom office in Endherimaage that night to see Gayoom, Yumna, Sofwan and Faris there. Faris played an audio recording on his phone and I realised it was the conversation between Gayoom and Hameed that took place a few minutes ago. I was upset because he had recorded it. Faris then said the recording needs to be leaked. He promised to help me and my family in anything that happens after the audio is leaked. I don’t have the original or a copy of the audio but it has now caused a police investigation against me. I still believe the recording is with Faris.
Former deputy commissioner of police Ahmed Saudhee: On 27 January 2018, commissioner of police Ahmed Areef refused to implement a warrant for Faris’ arrest. Home minister Azleen met the two of us that day and decided Areef was being influenced. He handed over all matters related to Faris to me and I was ordered to directly monitor his arrest and detention. I implemented the order immediately. At around 630 pm on February 1, MNDF major general Ahmed Shiyam alerted me about reports that crowds may gather near the Supreme Court that night. Assistant commissioner of police Hamdhoon Rasheed was in charge of monitoring the area and he made plans to disperse crowds during any protest. A few minutes later he called me and said “Sir, a very strange order has been issued. Where are you?” I went back into the operations room in the Iskandharu Koshi and saw breaking news on Raajje TV. Then we got a message on a Viber group for the most senior of us to attend a meeting in the commissioner’s office. So we went to police headquarters but the message about the meeting was deleted when I checked my phone again. It was sent by superintendent of police Ahmed Shifan. When we were led into the room, Areef said: “This is an order from the Supreme Court. What are we going to do now?” I told him: “We must respect the Supreme Court order.” I said that while thinking we must seek legal advice because that is the usual practice. It did not mean that I was ready to implement the order. Then I heard Shifan speaking on the phone and instructing someone to release those named in the order. So I argued about it and said they cannot be released because some of them are convicted and serving prison terms and others are under police custody for safety reasons. Then inspector of police Shaif Hussain began arguing with me. I decided it was best to leave the room. I was waiting outside the Police HQ when chief inspector Ahmed Rashwan told me that police chief station inspector Yoosuf Looth was asking to request Dhoonidhoo custodial officers to release the prisoners. I ordered the duty officer to “not let them free” until otherwise instructed. When Areef was fired and I was appointed as acting police commissioner, I took a stand that the police must seek advice from the attorney general and prosecutor general before acting on the order.
I am very certain that Areef knew in advance that the Supreme Court was going to issue an order. I know this when I look back on his actions before and after it was issued. He brought major abrupt changes to the operations structure that night. The layout change for monitoring the Supreme Court area, the message on Viber group (which told some officers not to attend the meeting), the pre-preparedness of some officers (they were dressed in uniform and attended the meeting in ten minutes) raised suspicions. Areef has never been fond of Shaif Hussain and Abdulla Ibrahim but they were present in his room when I was summoned for the meeting in police HQ. Since the blast on the presidential speedboat and the water-cut in Malé, Areef has said he does not want them in any senior positions. So I was surprised when I saw Areef with junior level staff that night. He usually discusses with executive level staff before coming to a decision. That night around 1:30 am, I found out that Areef had prepared a list of former SO officers, who were now in atoll police stations, that had to be brought back to Malé immediately. The list was shown to me by HR head Ahmed Adil and it had the names of 20 officers. I told Adil to tell their station heads to order them to report back to their stations. Areef also told me that President Abdulla Yameen wants to meet with me and him at the Bandaara Koshi. When I asked him to go, he said he will go in uniform. At that moment I saw his uniform in his room. It made me wonder why he had his uniform ready in the office. I was waiting for him to come with me to go meet the president but he never came. I do not know if the president called him that night, but I contacted the president when I felt suspicious about the things happening in Police HQ. I warned him that some secret plan could be in operation and the president told me that Areef was not responding to his calls. I was also astonished when I saw the tweet that Areef and I were going to the implement the order. I never said that. I think it was Ahmed Shifan who tweeted. I saw him writing something on his phone at the time I said that we should respect the order.
Intel report: Gayoom, Adeeb and Gasim were leading the coup to get Supreme Court assistance in influencing the judiciary, parliament and calling for international pressure. Nasheed, Imran and Nazim were also involved, but those in jail or abroad had representatives to do their work. They used mobile phones and social media apps to communicate. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Justice Ali Hameed were bribed and offered luxury flats abroad and judicial administrator Hassan Saeed protected their money. The bribe money was offered by Gayoom, Gasim and Adeeb. Nasheed, Gasim, Imran and Gayoom tried to impeach the president by lodging a case with the Supreme Court, but justices had differing opinions. Saeed and Hameed discussed with Gayoom and Gasim to issue the order to release political prisoners and rule that 12 MPS did not lose seats. They could then use this parliament majority to take a no-confidence vote against the president and the release of prisoners to increase international pressure. Gayoom and Riyaz tried to get votes for the motion. Bags full of cash were taken into Endherimaage and Gayoom led the plan to overthrow the government through parliament. But they knew Majlis (parliament) was in recess and cannot take a vote immediately after the order so they planned to create unrest. They tweeted and made speeches about the government falling and the events that happened after the order was issued show it was a planned coup. Areef also brought SO officers in the atolls to Malé (they were police connected to Adeeb – Shaif Hussein was appointed as SO head), the order was issued as Gayoom believed that the presidential election cannot be held with Yameen in power. He wanted to impeach him and appoint vice president Abdulla Jihad to the presidency while a unity government ruled until the election. Adeeb’s lawyers helped distribute his money for the causes of the planned coup.
Dhoonidhoo custodial chief station inspector Mohamed Niyaz: Areef ordered the release of the nine prisoners so Faris and Adeeb, both in Dhoonidhoo, were told to get ready to go to Malé. I heard chief inspector Mohamed Shareef talk to someone over the phone saying: “Are they really to be taken to Malé? Is there no other way?” I am not sure who he was speaking to. Before he came to Dhoonidhoo from Malé that night, he told me to make sure that no prisoners are released or taken into Dhoonidhoo before his arrival on the island. Adeeb and Faris were then taken into a marine police launch to be brought to Malé, and they were wearing the life jacket when Shareef told us to take them off the launch, so we took them to the area for family visits. Shareef said he was getting reports that Areef had been fired as CP so this may turn out differently. He said we should take some time before making a decision. Then he told us to inform Adeeb and Faris that they cannot be taken to Malé at this time because of the situation there. We tried to take them back to the cell. Faris told me that he and Adeeb were free according to the order and it is unlawful to hold them any longer. Then at 1 am, Shareef ordered us to make arrangements to transfer Adeeb to Maafushi prison.