November 6, 2014
Comparing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan’s disappearance with the killing of American President John F. Kennedy, Home Minister Umar Naseer today said, “not all crimes in the world are solvable.”
“Americans still have not solved the case of who shot and killed President John F. Kennedy,” speaking at a press conference this evening.
“I’m talking about the shooting and killing of an American president. It has been more than 50 years since American citizens have been asking, who killed Kennedy?”
According to five different investigations, former Marine Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
“Not every crime is solvable. And when a crime remains unsolved, it does not mean police were negligent. We are doing all we can in Rilwan’s case. We will not leave any stone unturned.”
Today marks the 90th day since Rilwan disappeared. Eyewitness accounts suggest Rilwan was abducted at knifepoint outside his apartment at 2am on August 8. He has not been seen or heard from since.
Despite acknowledging involvement of criminal gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance, Naseer today said it is unclear if Rilwan’s disappearance constitutes a crime. The government can only know if he had voluntarily left, disappeared or been abducted once he is found, he said.
“America is a much bigger country than ours. Statistics show over 600 people went missing this year. They have better resources, a bigger budget, but they are unable to find [the missing people]. It is not so easy to find a missing person. Not every crime can be solved,” he continued.
“We can only know if it’s a crime when it is solved. God willing, Rilwan will be found. When he is found, we will know if he went missing, or whether it’s a voluntary disappearance, an enforced disappearance or an abduction,” Naseer added.
Naseer claimed the Maldives Police Service is continuing investigations, and is analysing 22,000 phone records and 4,000 hours of CCTV footage.
The opposition has wrongfully termed Rilwan’s case a “disappearance,” Naseer continued claiming “it is too early to call it a [disappearance].”
Rilwan’s family last week accused the police of negligence and filed a complaint with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).
“If the abduction had been investigated immediately at the right time, the police would have been able to find the victim and clarify if it is our brother or not,” Rilwan’s sister Mariyam Fazna told the press last week.
Despite eyewitnesses having reported the abduction at knifepoint at 2am on August 8, police only took eyewitnesss statements on August 14, the family said. The police had also failed to track down and search the car used in the abduction.
The police only searched Rilwan’s apartment 29 hours after the abduction was reported and searched his office 11 days afterwards. The police also failed to make a public announcement on Rilwan’s disappearance – despite a request by the family – and did not inform the public on how to act if they had any information related to the case, the family explained further.
Four men have been arrested over Rilwan’s disappearance, but only one man remains in custody at present. The police have revealed few details on the case.
The People’s Majlis last week threw out a 5055 signature petition urging MPs to pressure police for a through and speedy investigation. The parliament secretariat later admitted the rejection was “a mistake,” according to MP Imthiyaz Fahmy who sponsored the petition.
Human rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network released a report in September implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance.
Discounting theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, the investigation – conducted by Glasgow-based Athena Intelligence and Security – concludes the disappearance is likely to have been an abduction.
The report confirmed evidence of possible “hostile surveillance” at the terminal conducted by two known affiliates of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.
The NGO on October 23 accused the police of negligence in investigating the disappearance for their failure to inform the public on progress and failure to confirm if the abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing was related to his disappearance.