Two suspects arrested earlier this month in connection with the abduction of The Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan was transferred to house arrest on Friday.
According to the police, the criminal court placed the pair under house arrest for a period of ten days.
Aalif Rauf, 29, and Mohamed Nooradheen, 31, were arrested on April 5, days after police revealed that DNA samples lifted from the trunk of a red car owned by the former matched Rilwan’s mother’s DNA.
Soon after Rilwan’s disappearance was reported, his neighbors said they had witnessed a man being forced into a car at knifepoint outside his apartment building in Hulhumalé on August 8.
Aalif and Nooradheen were arrested on suspicion of links to the abduction and attempts to tamper with evidence.
The police spokesman was unable to say if the state would appeal the criminal court’s decision. The Prosecutor General’s office spokesman was unavailable for comment.
Earlier this month, police confirmed that several young men with the Kuda Henveiru gang – led by Aalif – had tailed Rilwan for over two hours on the night he went missing. The chief suspect, Mohamed Suaid, was arrested in September, but was released by the criminal court a few weeks later.
Suaid left the Maldives in January 2015 with Aalif’s brother Azlif Rauf, a former soldier who was arrested over the 2012 brutal murder of MP Afrasheem Ali.
Suaid and Azlif’s family say the pair died in battle in the Syrian civil war last year, but the claim has been disputed.
The police’s admission that Rilwan was abducted came after they previously insisted that DNA analysis was insufficient to link the August 8 abduction with Rilwan’s disappearance.
Human rights NGO, the Maldivian Democracy Network, had published a comprehensive report into the journalist’s disappearance in September 2014, detailing the involvement of Kuda Henveiru gang, but the police dismissed it as politically motivated at the time.
Days after the report’s release, a machete was lodged in the front door of The Maldives Independent’s (formerly Minivan News) offices. The suspect was released by the criminal court.