Ismail Wisham, the assistant attorney general, has been sacked today following his arrest on Monday night on charges of possession of alcohol and drugs.
A spokesperson at the Attorney General’s (AG) office confirmed Wisham’s dismissal. President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali also announced the dismissal in a tweet this afternoon.
Wisham was arrested based on an intelligence tip-off along with his wife, Hana Waheed, at 11:30pm in a raid authorised by a court warrant. Beer cans and hash oil were reportedly discovered in the couple’s apartment in Malé.
The pair were transferred to house arrest for five days yesterday. Hana is a senior public prosecutor at the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office.
The PG office has reportedly suspended Hana pending a review of the charges against her.
Wisham had previously worked at under former Attorneys General Husnu Suood and Azima Shukoor. At the AG office, he was working on the government’s response to the UN working group on arbitrary detention regarding former President Mohamed Nasheed’s imprisonment.
Lawyers and Wisham’s colleagues raised fears yesterday that his arrest might have been “targeted.”
Speaking to The Maldives Independent on the condition of anonymity, a lawyer who works at the AG office said: “The general feeling at the office is a sense of sadness and shock. I personally feel the arrest was targeted as there seems to be no explicit public policy reason for police to carry out such a raid.”
Describing Wisham as “a well-regarded and highly talented lawyer and a great asset to the state,” his colleague expressed doubt that the police could have conducted a raid without being aware whose house they were raiding.
However, the lawyer said he had no knowledge of any conflicts between Wisham and senior government officials. He went on to describe Wisham as a “pro-government, technical lawyer.”
Wisham is the latest government official to be arrested on criminal charges. In January, the police discovered a pistol and three bullets at then-Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s home in a late night raid.
Alcohol and cannabis use, though illegal, is common in the Maldives. Alcohol possession and abuse charges have previously been filed against high-profile politicians who represent both the ruling and opposition parties.
MP Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, who heads the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA), and is a close associate of President Abdulla Yameen was brought to trial for alcohol possession. The resort tycoon, however, was acquitted by the criminal court in December 2014.
In 2012, several opposition politicians, including former MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Abdulla Jabir, were arrested and charged with alcohol and drug abuse following a raid on a private picnic island. Jabir was convicted, while trials against others are pending.