Parliament’s security services committee on Monday held a closed-door meeting to discuss possible police negligence in the investigation of Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan’s abduction.
The meeting began at 2pm on Monday but reporters were asked to leave the room five minutes into the meeting.
Following a vote among the members present, the committee’s chair, Mohamed Aslam, asked reporters to leave the committee room while a “confidential letter” sent to the committee by the prosecutor general’s office was discussed.
Aslam told reporters they would be allowed back into the room once the letter had been discussed, but the hearing continued until its end behind closed doors.
“As there [are] active investigations by the commission investigating murders and disappearances, committee members decided to close the hearing,” Aslam told the Maldives Independent after the meeting.
The committee has decided to summon police officials to a hearing tomorrow, Aslam added.
The committee has received reports from the National Integrity Commission, the Commission on Investigation of Murders and Enforced Disappearances (DDCom), the Human Rights Commission, as well as a letter from Rilwan’s family highlighting their concerns.
The committee will also take into account a report from a private investigation by the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), Aslam said.
Rilwan was last seen at 12.45am on August 8 almost five years ago.
Aalif Rauf and Mohamed Noorahdheen were put on trial for Rilwan’s abduction but acquitted by the criminal court last year because of serious flaws in the investigation and prosecution.
Mohamed Suaid – a third suspect seen on CCTV footage following Rilwan on the night of his disappearance – fled the country after being released from custody before he could be charged.
Last month, a supreme court justice was accused of facilitating Suaid’s release at the request of an unnamed politician – widely believed to be former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.
Police took twenty months to admit that Rilwan had been abducted, despite knowing that Suaid had followed Rilwan and that someone matching the appearance of the Maldives Independent (then called Minivan News) journalist had been forced into a red car outside his apartment later that night.
In April 2016, the police accepted there was a “strong possibility” that radicalised gangs had been involved in the journalist’s disappearance, as suggested by a private investigation commissioned by the MDN.
Meanwhile on Thursday, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said he had received the DDCom’s report on Rilwan’s abduction.
The commission’s chair, Husnu Suood, said in February the group of extremists who had planned Rilwan’s abduction, were involved in the assassination of moderate islamic scholar Dr Afraasheem Ali and the murder of liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed.