Commissioner of Police Ahmed Areef vowed to take disciplinary action against police officers who violate the law, stressing that all police officers must uphold the law.
His remarks follow media reports of the transfer of four Specialist Operations policemen involved in clashes with two gangs in Malé last month to other departments. According to local media, four SO officers of the corporal rank were transferred to gate duty as well as the marine police and human resource departments.
He was speaking at a ceremony held to acknowledge staff who organised celebratory events for the 83rd anniversary of the Maldives Police Service.
However, a police spokesperson told The Maldives Independent that he was unaware of such a change.
The police are accused of ransacking three gang hangouts on the night of March 18 and beating up several young men, many of whom required medical treatment. The police are also accused covering up an “illegal and unprovoked” assault.
Sources told The Maldives Independent that the incident occurred after a police officer intervened when some gang members had tried to leave a restaurant without paying the bill. The officer was allegedly assaulted by the gang members, who also later found the officer’s home and threatened his family.
When senior police officers failed to take immediate action, the source said the beaten SO officers’ colleagues acted on their own and raided the three gang hangouts.
Victims of the assault told The Maldives Independent that some 24 officers in riot gear had barged into Masodige in Galholhu ward and Jade in Maafannu ward without court warrants.
Raajje TV also reported that some 13 SO officers were briefly suspended, but a police spokesperson denied the claim.
An SO officer meanwhile told CNM that it would not be fair to investigate the elite officers without taking into account the negligence of senior officers.
The home minister and police chief have defended the police, condemning intimidation and threats against police officers and their families and causing damage to the homes of police officers as “unacceptable.”