Several Maldivian Democratic Party members detained under emergency powers were released without charge on Wednesday.
Leadership figures including MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz, former MP Ilyas Labeeb, and several council members were arrested in the build-up to the March 16 mass protest after police alleged there were plans to overthrow the government by inciting unrest and violence in the capital.
With constitutional due process rights suspended, the detainees were not informed of charges or taken before a judge within 24 hours when they were arrested. Their release came ahead of the expiry of the 45-day state of emergency on Thursday night.
Ilyas Labeeb and MP Eva Abdulla’s husband Ahmed Shahid were arrested on March 8 after Special Ops officers raided the MDP office. Later in the day, activist Ilham Hussain and businessman Abdul Majid were arrested from inside restaurants.
The opposition estimates around 60 people were arrested without warrants after President Abdulla Yameen declared the state of emergency on February 5, days after the Supreme Court ordered the release of his jailed opponents.
Hundreds were also arrested from daily anti-government demonstrations but most were released within 24 hours.
Terrorism and bribery charges were raised this week against 11 high-profile detainees in connection with an alleged plot to overthrow the government. Most of the accused have since been detained by the criminal court for the duration of upcoming trials.
Eight Special Ops police officers were also detained on coup plot charges last month. The Maldivian ambassador to Sri Lanka told the foreign press Tuesday that investigations are continuing into 38 people still in custody.
Calling for their immediate release on Tuesday, Reporters Without Borders said the criminal court extended their detention by 10 days “without any concrete evidence being produced to support a judicial investigation.”
The released MDP detainees were warmly greeted outside the police custodial centre by party colleagues and family members.
Every release is an emotional reunion for loved ones. Immensely joyful and so heartwarming to witness. Thinking of all who still remain behind bars, and sending love to their families ❤️ We can not, must not stop until all of them are free! #FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners #Huttuvaa pic.twitter.com/zSedwENokC
— Afshan Latheef 🎈 (@AfshanLatheef) March 21, 2018
— Hudha 🎈 (@AhmedHudha) March 21, 2018
Gulhifaivaa Siyaasee Partythakun
baavvaa Jalsa MDP Haruge kurimathee dhanee
Kulli Nurakkaa Nimman Thayyaaruvumah! pic.twitter.com/XyJaOIvaD4
— MDP Secretariat (@MDPSecretariat) March 21, 2018
— #JazeeraRaees (@Simwarr) March 21, 2018