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The disappearance of Ahmed Rilwan: A timeline

The government says it is not responsible for his disappearance.



It is almost four years since Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan went missing. Alif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradeen are on trial and accused of forcing him into a car at knife-point outside his apartment building on August 8 2014. A verdict is imminent. Following is a timeline of events since Rilwan’s last known appearance.

August 8 2014

Ahmed Rilwan enters the Malé – Hulhumalé ferry terminal waiting area at 00:44.

August 15 2014

His friends and relatives begin searching Hulhumalé, where he lived. The International Federation of Journalists calls on the government to speed up the investigation.

August 18 2014

It is feared that Rilwan has been abducted, following information gathered by Minivan News.

August 20 2014

President Abdulla Yameen is non-committal about Rilwan’s disappearance.

August 23 2014

His family offers a MVR50,000 reward for information leading to his return. The Maldives media release a statement.

August 24 2014

Vnews editor Adam Haleem receives a death threat, telling him he will be beheaded.

August 25 2014

Family and friends gather at parliament requesting help to find him.

August 27 2014

Police ask Immigration to withhold the passports of four individuals believed to be connected to his disappearance.

September 4 2014

His family submits a petition to parliament, asking for intervention over police negligence.

September 9 2014

The UK foreign ministry expresses concern over the Maldives’ human rights situation and Rilwan’s disappearance.

September 16 2014

Police say they find no “concrete evidence” to connect his disappearance with neighbours’ reports of a man fitting his description being pushed into a car.

September 19 2014

Hundreds march to protest police failure in answering key questions.

September 22 2014

The Maldivian Democracy Network releases findings of a privately conducted investigation.

September 25 2014

A machete is lodged in the door of the building housing Minivan News.

September 28 2014

Police confirm three arrests have been made.

September 30 2014

Police arrest a fourth suspect.

October 6 2014

The Criminal Court releases a suspect. A second suspect is placed under house arrest.

October 10 2014

A third suspect is released from custody. Just one suspect remains in detention.

October 18 2014

Amnesty calls on police to “intensify efforts” into cases of threats, violence and abductions against journalists, politicians and civil society activists.

October 20 2014

Home Minister Umar Naseer acknowledges gang involvement in the Rilwan case.

October 28 2014

Parliament throws out the petition on a technicality.

October 29 2014

Rilwan’s family accuse police of negligence and file a formal complaint with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

November 16 2014

The last remaining suspect in custody is freed.

December 1 2014

A suspect previously under house arrest is freed.

January 7 2015

Local media reports that an individual arrested over the Rilwan case travelled to Syria to fight in the war.

July 12 2015

Police say they cannot “conclusively state” a connection between the abduction reported by Rilwan’s neighbours and his disappearance.

August 8 2015

Police peppery spray Rilwan’s family as they march to mark a year since his disappearance.

November 26 2015

Home Minister Naseer says he has ordered police to question detained former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.

April 2 2016

Police say they have established links between Rilwan’s disappearance and an abduction reported outside his apartment on the same day he was last seen.

April 5 2016

Police arrest Alif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradeen.

April 22 2016

Rauf and Nooradeen are transferred to house arrest.

April 28 2016

The Prosecutor General’s Office appeals against the Criminal Court’s ruling for the pair to be transferred to house arrest.

May 8 2016

The UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances summons the Maldives government for a response over Rilwan’s abduction.

May 10 2016

The government rejects any suggestion it is responsible for his disappearance.

June 12 2016

The suspects are transferred to house arrest.

August 17 2016

Azmoon Ahmed, a senior Raajje TV correspondent, is threatened by two men who say he will suffer the same fate as Rilwan.

August 8 2017

The police crack down on an anniversary march.

August 14 2017

Rilwan’s nephew and the sister of murdered blogger Yameen Rasheed lose their jobs for joining an anniversary march.

August 15 2017

The Prosecutor General’s Office presses charges against Rauf, Nooradeen and Mohamed Suaid under the 1990 Anti-Terrorism act, with “the act or the intention of kidnapping or abduction of a person or of taking a hostage.”

September 20 2017

The first preliminary hearing is held. The family of the third suspect, Suaid, informs the court he is dead.

December 7 2017

Defence lawyers argue that basic questions remain unanswered and no evidence links their clients with Rilwan’s abduction and disappearance.

February 5 2018

A leaked list of applicants for a government social housing scheme reveals Rauf has been awarded a flat.

February 12 2018

State prosecutors present witness testimony from four anonymous witnesses.

February 13 2018

The hearing is cancelled with no reason given.

February 15 2018

The hearing is cancelled.

April 8 2018

The hearing is cancelled due to state prosecutors’ inability to present witnesses.

April 10 2018

A prosecution witness tells the court Nooradeen was seen driving a red car alleged to be connected with the abduction.

April 12 2018

The hearing is cancelled.

May 14 2018

The trial continues, with experts explaining the DNA evidence.

July 24 2018

The Criminal Court hears concluding statements.