Maldives: Police arrests Maumoon Gayoom’s employees as President Yameen continues witch hunt

Police ramped up their investigation into an alleged coup by arresting three more people, including the private secretary of former president Abdul Maumoon Gayoom, and launched a manhunt for two ruling party lawmakers who have defected to the opposition alliance.

The probe that began Saturday night with the arrest of lawmaker Faris Maumoon on accusations of attempting to overthrow the government by bribing politicians, intensified Wednesday evening with the arrest of three people close to Faris’s father and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on the same charges.

Quoting police sources, Maldives Independent reported that Gayoom’s private secretary Najma Ibrahim, his private security guard Mohamed Azmee, and an expatriate driver were arrested last night.

Ibrahim, who had a baby eight months ago, has been transferred to house arrest after lawyers pleaded there was a health risk to her infant who would be deprived of breastfeeding if she was in police custody.

Her boss, Maumoon Gayoom, condemned her arrest on Twitter.

A shawl and a phone were confiscated after a search of her house, and a phone was confiscated after a search of Azmee’s house. A search was also carried out of Endherigas, which is home to Gayoom’s in-laws.

Maldives Independent quoted the warrant stating the arrests were necessary because the individuals could remove evidence, influence witnesses and obstruct the investigation.

Their arrests came as police launched a manhunt for two ruling party defectors over their connections to Faris’s bribery case. However, police would not say which bribery case as the opposition lawmaker is facing two separate allegations.

Police announced the search for Ilham Ahmed and Abdulla Sinan Wednesday night after failed attempts to hand them a police summons in person.

The MPs, who were stripped of their seats by the Elections Commission, have been given 14 days to appear before the police.

Ilham called on police to stop intimidating his family and said he would be in the Maldives to answer their questions soon.

“Two police officers went into my family’s house in Malé while knowing I live abroad. After attempting to meet my wife after being told I wasn’t in Malé, they noted the information of my younger sibling and left. I will soon be in the Maldives to answer any MPS inquiry. But I urge MPS to stop the intimidation and harassment of my family for political purposes,” he tweeted.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Faris have accused the police of asking ridiculous questions regarding the alleged coup.

He was asked if he had plotted to overthrow the government with a fellow lawmaker and was then asked what his response would be to such an accusation, said his lead counsel and uncle Maumoon Hameed.

MP Faris was initially arrested on 18 July 2017, less than a week before the no-confidence motion vote against Speaker Abdula Maseeh Mohamed on 24 July. The Maldives Police had raided his home today looking for evidence of the alleged bribery of lawmakers to back the opposition’s bid to unseat the speaker.

President Abdullah Yameen has let loose a reign of terror on the four-party opposition alliance since losing the majority in the Parliament on 3 July after 10 ruling Progressive Party of Maldives lawmakers defected to the opposition side to oust the Majlis Speaker. He has been abusing the compliant judiciary, the police, the military and all other state agencies to harass and intimidate the opposition with the singular objective of saving his minority government.

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