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Riyaz, lawmaker and ex-police chief, under investigation for spreading false rumours

“They did this to stop what we are doing in parliament. To intimidate us because of the work we are doing politically,” MP Abdulla Riyaz said.



Jumhooree Party MP Abdulla Riyaz was questioned Tuesday on charges of spreading false rumours and attempting to influence the police force, the former police chief has said.

The police briefly detained the JP deputy leader and MP for the Kinbidhoo constituency in Thaa Atoll on Monday night and confiscated his mobile phone.

He was released with a summons to appear for questioning at 4pm on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Maldives Independent, Riyaz contended that he was targeted because of the government’s “failure to digest” the grand coalition formed between opposition parties and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“And since I am working on behalf of JP, they did this to stop what we are doing in parliament, to intimidate us because of the work we are doing politically,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, the new opposition alliance sought unsuccessfully to impeach the speaker of parliament in a bid to challenge President Abdulla Yameen’s previously secure parliamentary majority.

“They claimed I was spreading false rumours and trying to influence the police force. The false rumours they are alleging is a statement I made at a press conference last week in which I said the country cannot be handed over to a mafia gang,” he said. “I do not believe the police can summon and question politicians over what they say.”

Riyaz went on to accuse the embattled current administration of “using the courts and independent institutions to exert influence and incite fear”.

He added: “But I won’t step back, I will continue to work for the people.”

Riyaz has been a vocal critic of President Abdulla Yameen since the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives severed its coalition agreement with the JP in 2014.

He has also represented the JP at press briefings by the new opposition alliance.

The police spokeswoman declined to provide any details.

In May 2015, Riyaz was interrogated by the police over comments he had made about the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali and the torching of the Raajje TV studios, both of which occurred while was the commissioner of police.

Appearing on Raajje TV in April 2015, Riyaz had said that he would reveal information on Dr Afrasheem’s murder “when the time comes” and that police had been negligent in the arson attack in October 2013 that had destroyed the opposition-aligned private broadcaster’s offices.

Riyaz was police chief from February 2012 until his resignation in November 2013, shortly after Yameen assumed office.