The police have forwarded a case against MP Faris Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for prosecution on charges of illegal expenses from state funds.
The police said in a tweet after midnight on Friday that the case was sent to the Prosecutor General’s office after completing an investigation requested by the anti-corruption watchdog into alleged failure to reimburse the state.
The details of the charges are unclear. According to local media, the case concerns expenses from the former presidential palace Theemuge that were flagged in an audit report in 2009. But Faris was not serving in any official capacity at the palace.
The charges come amid an intensified crackdown after Gayoom joined forces with the opposition to challenge President Abdulla Yameen’s parliamentary majority. Faris was summoned for questioning at the police headquarters five times ahead of the new opposition coalition’s failed bid to impeach the speaker of parliament on March 27.
The MP for the Dhiggaru constituency has been leading a breakaway bloc of lawmakers that took his father’s side after the ruling party was split into rival factions.
Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was meanwhile arrested at midnight Friday on fresh charges of bribery and attempting to topple the government. JP MP Abdulla Riyaz is also standing trial on a charge of police obstruction.
But the government has dismissed allegations of harassing and intimidating opposition leaders, insisting that the police and judiciary are independent.
On Thursday, Gayoom accused the government of using independent institutions to “harass and intimidate” opponents after his son-in-law was summoned to court under police custody.
Using "independent" institutions to harass and intimidate political dissidents and their families is unacceptable.
— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) April 20, 2017
The civil court ordered the police to bring Mohamed Nadheem to a hearing over an unpaid loan. But the court decided Thursday morning not to proceed with the lawsuit as the debt owed by local company One and A Half Degree has been paid.
A spokesman for Nadheem told the Maldives Independent that the court resorted to ordering the police on Wednesday without first issuing a summons, contrary to the normal practice of seeking police assistance when a person refuses to attend.
Nadheem and Gayoom’s daughter Yumna Maumoon have been involved in opposition protests and rallies since late March.
Police officers were reportedly unable to find Nadheem on Wednesday morning as he was not at his home in Malé. They left with instructions for Nadheem to appear at the Atholhuvehi police detention centre in Malé.
At the centre, he was told to come to the police station Thursday morning to be escorted to court.
Several other Gayoom associates have also faced legal action.
Earlier this month, Abdul Aleem, secretary-general of the Gayoom faction, was put on trial for contempt of court over alleged contravention of the civil court ruling that put President Abdulla Yameen in charge of the Progressive Party of Maldives.
Last week, the police sought Interpol assistance to find Gayoom’s personal assistant, Ahmed Sofwan, in connection with an undisclosed investigation. Sofwan’s passport has also been revoked.
The 38-year-old is reportedly in India, where Gayoom also left for last month to visit a sick relative. Sofwan is also a member of the PPM’s governing council.
On Sunday, Zaidul Ameen, a Malé city councillor and staunch Gayoom loyalist, was transferred to house arrest after nearly two months in police custody.
Zaid has accused a high-ranking police officer of threatening to keep him detained unless he gave false testimony that could be used as a pretext to arrest Gayoom.
Gayoom has also criticised the human rights watchdog and police oversight body for refusing to investigate Zaid’s case. “If [the Human Rights Commission of Maldives] cannot look into why an innocent man is detained in prison for over three months what human rights are they protecting?” he tweeted.
Zaid’s lawyer Mahfooz Saeed told The Maldives Independent that the National Integrity Commission has yet to respond to the complaints.
The charges against Zaid have been changed three times since his arrest in January.
Zaid was first arrested on charges of “criminal coercion” and changed to “unlawful eavesdropping” a month later. Last week, it was changed again to “obstructing the administration of law.”
According to Mahfooz, the charges were revised after discussions with state prosecutors.
“The police and PG are randomly flipping through the penal code to see what they can through at this politically motivated situation,” he said.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that Zaid’s case has been forwarded to the PG office, which would decide whether to file the case at court.
Ahmed Thaufeeq, the PG office spokesman, refused to comment on whether the PG advised the police to revise the charges.
“It is not our policy to comment on individual cases,” he said.
“But generally, it is common for police to consult with prosecutors before sending it for prosecution, to discuss things like the charges and what needs to be investigated based on the available evidence.”