Lawyers representing a colonel detained at the military barracks over the September 28 blast on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat are now petitioning the prosecutor general to ensure his administrative military detention, which began in early October, is legal.
While the Defence Forces Act permits administrative detention for a period not exceeding 220 days for misconduct, Colonel Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz’s lawyer contends his detention cannot be considered administrative because he is being questioned over criminal allegations.
Interrogations are taking place without access to legal counsel, said his lawyer Mahfooz Saeed.
The defence ministry has reportedly claimed Fayaz is not being held at a military facility.
“Article 48 of the constitution clearly stipulates the procedures to follow with regard to individuals suspected of committing criminal offences. Fayaz has not been afforded the right legal counsel and he has not been brought in front of a judge.”
“Our January 6 letter asks the PG to perform her constitutional and legal duties to ensure Fayaz’s arrest is lawful. Despite repeated requests I have not been allowed to meet Fayaz even though his family claims he is being interrogated,” he said.
The colonel is allowed infrequent phone calls to his family.
Defence Minister Adam Shareef has recently highlighted the need for military courts in the Maldives to enforce military laws. “This is something we have to do even if we have to change the constitution,” he told Sun Online in December.
Military courts would help increase transparency and ensure justice for soldiers, he said.
Fayaz’s lawyers and family members had previously lobbied the police and the criminal court for information, but requests were rejected or remain unanswered.
When lawyers asked the criminal court in December to order the defence ministry to present Fayaz at court, the court rejected the request stating that the defence ministry had sent a letter claiming that he was not being held at a military facility.
Mahfooz added: “The states refusal to acknowledge Fayaz’s detention is also rather worrying and it has been noted in the letter to PG.”
Lawyers have asked the court’s judicial council to review its decision to reject the request.
They had previously filed a missing persons report at the police, arguing his continued detention amounts to an enforced disappearance. The police have not responded yet, Mahfooz said.
Soon after the blast, Fayaz was removed from his position as the head of the state armoury, the explosives department and the Special Protection Group, a military unit tasked with providing security for the president and state officials.
Two other high-ranking soldiers were also held in military detention for weeks. Another three from the explosives department are in police custody over the blast.
Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and several of his associates are also under custody on suspicion of plotting to assassinate the president.
Yameen escaped unhurt from the minor explosion, but First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim was hospitalised for two months over minor spine injuries. A presidential aide and a military bodyguard also sustained injuries.