October 12, 2014
The family of missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan have again expressed concern regarding the police’s investigation after a third suspect was released from detention on Friday (September 10).
The Maldives Police Service has confirmed that a 25-year-old man held in connection with the disappearance was released after being taken to the Criminal Court in an attempt to extend his detention for the third time.
Rilwan, who has been missing for 65 days, is believed to have been abducted at knifepoint outside of his Hulhumalé apartment at around 2am on August 8.
Rilwan’s brother Moosa Rilwan told Minivan News today that the family is very concerned police did not release enough information about the arrests, expressing concern at shortcomings in the investigation.
The 25-year-old is the third suspect to be released after four men were arrested on September 30 in relation to Rilwan’s disappearance. A single suspect remains in custody.
The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) had applauded the four arrests made by MPS, noting the development as a clear sign of progress in the investigation.
The police are yet to suggest any possible theories or lines of inquiry into the disappearance and have previously stated that there was no concrete evidence linking Rilwan and the reported abduction in front of his apartment.
MDN released an investigation report three weeks ago identifying the possible scenarios related to the disappearance.
The investigation conducted by Glasgow based Athena Security implicated abduction by radicalised gangs motivated by religious extremism as the most likely explanation for the disappearance.
The report said that Rilwan had “regularly received clear threats to his life” for his outspoken criticism of religious extremism and fundamentalism.
It also noted that there had been an influx of extremist ideologies in three of the major gangs operating in the capital Malé, stating that gang leaders were exposed to radical Islam during incarceration in prison.
One of the gang members named in the report was subsequently caught on tape removing a CCTV camera from the Minivan News office, for which he was arrested before being released the next day with demands from the Criminal Court that he cooperate with the police investigation.
A Minivan News journalist received death threats shortly after the attack on Minivan’s office, which also saw a machete lodged in the door.
The attack was followed by dozens of death threats to journalists, senior members, and parliamentary members of the opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) from unlisted numbers.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed – who also received threats during a visit to the UK this month – alleged that the death threats against journalists and MPs were sent using an online texting website.
Nasheed has also been critical of the police’s response, suggesting they were not taking enough action to investigate the growing number of threats.