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Gayoom accused of destroying evidence as lawyers allege ‘mental harm’

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was questioned for the first time on Saturday, 33 days after his arrest.



Police are seeking to charge former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom with destroying evidence, as lawyers accused authorities of trying to cause him mental harm.

Gayoom refused to cooperate with “an illegal investigation” when he was questioned on Saturday for the first time since his arrest 33 days ago.

He believed he was questioned after more than a month because police hope to demoralise him with the purpose of causing him “mental torture,” his lawyer Mohamed Faisal said.

The 80-year-old former dictator was questioned for 15 minutes after his case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s office.

Faisal said there was no reason to question him when police had concluded their investigation.

Police are seeking to charge him with destroying evidence, but local media on Sunday reported that the PG had sent the case back to police.

Ahmed Thaufeeq, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General, refused to comment when contacted by the Maldives Independent. He said the media would be briefed on the matter at a later time.

Lawyer Hussein Shameem refuted allegations that Gayoom had destroyed evidence, adding that his client is accused of destroying a phone.

“Firstly, a phone is not evidence. And secondly, a phone was not destroyed. Even under the assumption that a phone had been destroyed, Gayoom did not partake in that act. There is no evidence to prove a crime was committed,” he told reporters Sunday night.

Responding to reports that the case had been sent back to police, he said it would not be surprising if the PG’s office decided not to press charges.

Shameem claimed that even if police consider mobile phones as evidence “a phone in itself is not evidence.”

“It becomes evidence because of the information it contains,” he said.

The mobile phones of several opposition figures have been confiscated under the state of emergency declared following a Supreme Court order to release nine prisoners.

Gayoom was arrested on charges of plotting a coup shortly after the state of emergency was declared on February 5.

He is also accused of bribing lawmakers and judges to topple his half-brother President Abdulla Yameen’s administration.