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Cheers and jeers as lawmaker freed

There are concerns about the drain on police resources since a state of emergency was declared.



The lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was released on Wednesday after 12 days in custody, as authorities were criticised for draining police resources.

Solih was arrested with scores of others during a protest in the capital on March 16. He was transferred to Malé after his release along with MP Ali Azim, from the Maldivian Democratic Party, and two others.

But there has been confusion about how he was arrested and kept in custody.

Police said he was arrested under emergency powers, which deprived detainees of the right to be taken before a judge within 24 hours.

But Solih was taken to court four days later and a judge ordered him to be kept in custody for nine days. His remand was set to expire today.

His lawyer, Nazim Sattar, said police were accusing him of obstructing law enforcement officers and obstructing the administration of law and other government functions.

“I don’t think anyone in this world knows (which procedures are being followed),” Sattar told the Maldives Independent.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has not yet been asked to press charges against the senior lawmaker, spokesman Ahmed Thaufeeq said, but discussions between prosecutors and investigators have taken place.

Solih is someone the opposition alliance might consider as a presidential candidate in this year’s elections.

A senior figure from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives welcomed his release, saying he deserved the MDP ticket after 12 days in custody.

Shahindha Ismail, from the Maldivian Democracy Network, criticised authorities for the revolving door of arrests, detentions and releases.

“None of these arrests have even an ounce of credibility. They were rounded up under an illegitimately declared state of emergency. All the processes that went within this emergency period were arbitrary.”

Ismail, who is a former member of the Police Integrity Commission, also expressed concern about the resources used to arrest and detain people since a state of emergency was declared on February 5.

“It’s not just police resources, the entire criminal justice system was stretched.

“Police have been on alert 24/7 for two months, many state officials had to be given security. And the level of surveillance.. we are aware of politicians and human rights defenders being heavily surveilled.”

“The police officers being dispatched to the streets everyday to confront people – that is more of a drain on state resources than a photocopy machine left printing the same thing throughout the night in a government office,” she added.

Photo: @MDPSecretariat