The police are investigating an “invalid” warrant issued by an island magistrate court in early hours of Sunday for the arrest of President Abdulla Yameen.
Chief Superintendent Mohamed Riyaz told the press this afternoon that a group of people from Malé went to an unspecified island after midnight, opened the magistrate court around 3:00am, and worked with a judge to issue the arrest warrant.
Riyaz said the fake warrant contained information falsely attributed to the Maldives Police Service. It also stated that Yameen was to be arrested in connection to an ongoing probe.
The group then “left the warrant on a street in the capital and tried to hand it over to police officers,” Riyaz said, adding that they tried to create the impression that the police were about to take the president into custody.
“And while this was happening, the investigation has noted that activists from a political party in the Maldives were preparing to gather near the president’s private residence, and that they were trying to show that officers from the police and military will be involved in arresting the president,” he said.
Riyaz also claimed that former President Mohamed Nasheed – who is currently in the UK on a 30-day medical leave from prison – called a senior officer of the security services and encouraged him to enforce the arrest warrant.
The police will find those responsible for the warrant and “take legal action against them,” he added.
Riyaz declined to reveal any further information. The case is under investigation by the serious and organised crime department, he said.
The incident follows the release of a damning audit report last Friday on the embezzlement of nearly US$80 million from the government-owned tourism promotion company.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party contends that information proving Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim benefited from the scam was omitted from the audit report. But the audit office has denied facing undue influence from the government to falsify the report.
The MDP has also published a picture of a deposit slip that appears to show US$500,000 was deposited to the president’s personal account at the Maldives Islamic Bank, prompting the president’s office to deny allegations of Yameen’s involvement in the Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal.