November 5, 2014
The Criminal Court has again extended the detention of the sole suspect remaining in custody in relation to the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.
Police have today confirmed that the suspect, whose identity has not been revealed to the public, had his extension extended for the fifth time yesterday (November 4) – giving police another ten days to conduct investigations.
No further details of the case’s progress have been made public.
After the Majlis rejected a 5000 signature petition calling for greater efforts in the search, the family last month lodged an official complaint with the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), accusing the Maldives Police Service of negligence.
PIC Director General Fathimath Sareera Ali Shareef told Minivan News today that the commission has decided to investigate the case, and has begun compiling relevant information.
“We have never had a case like this before,” explained Fathimath, who was unable to give a time frame for the investigation due to its “sensitive” nature.
Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed has rejected the accusations, telling local media last week that the police service had not forgotten about Rilwan’s case. Police said earlier this week that investigations were progressing “speedily”.
Four suspects were arrested in connection with the disappearance of the 28-year-old shortly after the release of a private investigative report into the suspected abduction. Three, however, were released shortly after.
Authorities – including the police commissioner and home minister – have condemned the report, suggesting that the publication of suspects’ names had jeopardised their own investigations, leading to the loss of valuable leads.
The report – conducted by a UK-based security company – noted “hostile surveillance” of Rilwan in the moments prior to his disappearance, concluding that the most likely groups to have been involved in his abduction were radicalised gangs – a theory supported by comments from Home Minister Umar Naseer.
Rilwan’s family lodged the official complaint with the PIC on October 29 , accusing the Maldives Police Service of not taking the case seriously, and of showing disrespect to the family since the disappearance 89 days ago.
“Our family is in deep mourning. We have no way forward. We believe police negligence is behind the lack of progress in finding Rilwan,” said Rilwan’s sister Fazna.
The police have failed to take the case seriously, despite an abduction outside Rilwan’s apartment building on the night of his disappearance and reports that he had received numerous death threats and had been followed, she said.
Eyewitnesses had reported the abduction at knifepoint at around 2am on August 8, but police only took their statements on August 14, the family said, adding that the police had also failed to track down and search the car used in the abduction.