The family of abducted Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan has called on the police and the presidential commission on disappearances and deaths to look into allegations Supreme Court Justice Abdulla Didi released two suspects in the case.
At a hearing called by the Judicial Service Commission last Thursday, the public heard from a witness that Didi had released Mohamed Suaid and Abdulla Haisham, who were arrested on suspicion of abducting Rilwan.
Rilwan’s sister Fathimath Shehenaz said in a statement released on Monday that the family is extremely concerned by what they heard of her brother’s abduction at the hearing.
Citing information provided by the police, the JSC said the suspects were released at the request of an unnamed suspect, referred to as “Suspect One”, during the hearing. The suspect is widely believed to be former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.
Suaid was arrested in late September 2014 and interrogated by police on October 1, 2014. CCTV footage released later showed that Suaid, riding a motorbike, had followed Rilwan for hours on the night of his disappearance.
He was released in November 2014 by the criminal court, where Didi formerly worked, and left the country in January 2015. Suaid was charged in absentia three years later, along with two other suspects – Aalif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradheen. The court decided to try just Aalif and Nooradheen as Suaid could not be summoned.
Shenenaz called on the presidential commission investigating murders to summon and question both Didi and Adeeb.
“As we have repeatedly said before, political influence in the judiciary has prevented [us seeing] justice for Rilwan’s abduction through the courts.
“The family believes there needs to be a complete investigation into the political influence surrounding the case – the people who planned and funded his abduction, as well as those who ensured impunity for the perpetrators, the statement said, adding that this needed to be followed by a “trial in an independent courthouse”.
In a separate development on Monday, parliament decided to look into possible police negligence in the investigation of Rilwan’s abduction.
In August 2017, the criminal court acquitted Aalif and Nooradheen, citing serious flaws in the investigation and prosecution.
Meanwhile, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on Monday ratified the law granting extra powers to the commission investigating murders and disappearances. The change means the commission now has the power to seek arrest warrants, conduct criminal investigations and enlist the help of law enforcement authorities.