Legal Politics

Maldives releases some opposition leaders including MDP Vice President Shifaz


(The picture at the top shows Maldivian Democratic Party Vice President Mohamed Shifaz being received by his supporters after his release on Wednesday)

Male, March 22 (Maldives Independent): Several Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members detained under Emergency powers were released without charge on Wednesday ahead of the lifting of the Emergency on Thursday.

Those released included MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz, former MP Ilyas Labeeb, and several council members who 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 Male.

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 Emergency on Thursday night.

Ilyas Labeeb and MP Eva Abdulla’s husband Ahmed Shahid were arrested on March 8 after Special Operations officers raided the MDP office. Later in the day, activist Ilham Hussain and businessman Abdul Majid were arrested from restaurants.

The opposition estimates around 60 people were arrested without a warrant after President Abdulla Yameen declared the State of Emergency on February 5, four 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.

Other politicians still in custody include MP Ahmed Mahloof, who was remanded for 13 days last week, and MDP MPs Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Ali Azim, who were remanded for nine days on Monday.

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.

Two Raajje TV journalists were arrested during Friday night’s mass protest and accused of making a video showing masked men in police uniforms threatening to join the opposition demonstration.

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 centere by party colleagues and family members.

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