The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) strongly condemns the police’s blatant harassment of former President Nasheed’s family, following an intimidating night-long search of the family home that started on Wednesday evening.
Commenting on the police intimidation tactics, MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said:
“The Maldives regime goes from bad to worse. Having illegally sent President Nasheed back to jail, they are now targeting his family in an ugly campaign of harassment and intimidation.
“President Yameen’s utter disdain for democracy and the rule of law is plain for all to see.”
— Details of the police search —
At approximately 9:40pm local time on Wednesday, Maldivian police showed up at former President Nasheed’s home in Male’ with a search warrant from the Criminal Court.
Madam Laila Ali, Nasheed’s wife, was home with her 2 daughters. Madam Laila was informed by the police that they were looking for CCTV footage and they presented her with a search warrant to the effect.They were allowed to access the CCTV footage and in the meantime, they posed some questions to Madam Laila. They said they were looking for the original letter from the Maldives Correctional Service that confirmed President Nasheed’s sentence had been commuted to house arrest.
Government officials confirmed to AFP news agency in mid-July that the remainder of President Nasheed’s sentence had been commuted to house arrest. But in an Orwellian twist, on 23 August the Government claimed the letter from Maldives Correctional Service is a “fake” and now, the Government is using that as a pretext for their campaign of harassment against President Nasheed’s family.
Madam Laila immediately told the police she had sent the original letter abroad for forensic analysis and that it was not at home. She indicated she would be happy to provide a sworn statement to that effect. In addition, she informed them that her lawyer had already provided a copy of the relevant CCTV footage, after being summoned by Maldives Police Service. However, they did not take into account either indications and at about 11pm presented her with the second warrant to search her home.
Despite the explanation provided, the police proceeded to search the flat Both warrants only permitted the Police to search the premises till midnight. At quarter to midnight they stated that they wished to extend the search, and that they would obtain another warrant. Madam Laila allowed them to stay on the premises until this third warrant was obtained. President Nasheed and Madam Laila’s 13 year old daughter was woken up, while the Police searched all the bedrooms. At approximately 1am, the Police stated that they had concluded the search and would be going back downstairs to look at the CCTV footage.
The police demanded to remove the CCTV hardware installed in the house. However the court warrant issued to attain CCTV footage had expired by midnight and the third warrant issued by Criminal Court only authorized the Police to search the premises for the document. It did not authorize the Police to search for the CCTV footage past midnight or to remove the hardware installed. Despite not having a court warrant to do so, the Police demanded to remove the hardware. The police refused to leave the premises despite requests from Madam Laila and lawyers who reminded them repeatedly that they did not have permission to do so. The police then said they would not leave without the hard disks and the system. Their stay on the premises from approximately 1:20 to 3:15am was unlawful.
Around 2.30 am Special Operations Police entered the house without a court warrant and forced media personnel out of the house. Madam Laila and lawyers repeatedly told the Police that media were permitted to stay in the house and to remove those police officers who did not have the permission to stay inside the premises.