No family is above the law, a ruling party figure has insisted, as the president’s nephew begins 15 days in detention.
MP Faris Maumoon was taken into custody Saturday night accused of attempting to overthrow his uncle’s government by bribing politicians. His lawyers have appealed the decision at the High Court.
MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, tweeted that nobody was above the law.
“Someone can’t be above the law because of his family relations. [Inequality] is a thing of the past. The government of President Yameen has the capacity to empower and sustain the rule of law,” Abdul Raheem said.
Faris was arrested days after he was released from a six-month detention while a trial against him on bribery charges was ongoing.
When asked whether the police regularly received orders from the president to execute arrest warrants, police spokesman Ahmed Shifan told the Maldives Independent to direct questions to the President’s Office.
“We follow laws and regulations when executing any warrant. Questions regarding that should be directed to the office involved,” he said.
The President’s Office refused to comment on any involvement from Yameen in the arrest.
In another tweet, Abdul Raheem said Yameen’s government would not influence the decisions of the judiciary.
During Faris’s remand hearing, prosecutors argued that the politician should be locked up until the end of the trial, citing suspicions that he could obstruct the investigation, hide evidence, tamper with evidence, destroy evidence and influence eyewitnesses.
The residences of Faris and his father, former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, were searched.
The search was for cash that is to be used to bribe politicians, documents related to bribing politicians, agreements signed by politicians after accepting bribes and anything that is illegal.
Lawyer Hussein Shameem, part of Faris’s legal team, said police had found no such evidence other than an anonymous statement from the person who reported the case to police.
“Police told us that they had found nothing and that they don’t have any other proof related to the case. All they have is a statement from the person who submitted the case,” Shameem said.
On Sunday local media reported that Deputy Commissioner of Police Ahmed Saudhee will be leading the investigation into the Faris case.
The reports came amid claims by Faris that he had met the Commissioner of Police Ahmed Areef, who had warned him that the president had personally called the police chief and demanded that Faris be arrested.
Police officers were informed by a memo that the investigation will be directly overseen by Saudhee. The Maldives Independent has verified the contents of the memo.
Police spokesman Ahmed Shifan dismissed the reports, saying it was usual practice to assign officers to lead investigations.
“CP Areef remains in charge with full authority and discretion [to discharge his responsibilities]. Everything is being run under the legal command of the CP,” Shifan told the Maldives Independent.