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Luthfee Letters part 10
Arrest and detention practices of the Maldive NSS police
by Ibrahim Luthfee
Male' 1999
translated by Maldives Culture editors

This concludes the translation of the document attached by Luthfee to the letters he wrote to many government ministries and high officials.

The police investigations related to the building court case

prisoner in pocket

Every time my case was heard in the civil court, the police conducted investigations involving me. For this purpose, the police summoned me often to the police station in the Odeon building where the traffic branch is located. Many times they would take me in the police jeep to inspect the building at Vinoalia block.

My father-in-law and Zahir would already be there on their motor bikes. The neighbours would gather in front of the house and wait. Even if I went to the police station on my motor bike, I have to go in the police jeep for the inspection of the building. If I refused it would be 'disobeying authority'. After inspecting the building they would take me back to the police station, stopping publicly at many places around Male'.

On one of these occasions, the traffic branch investigation was carried out by warrant officer Abdullah Rasheed. This time my father-in-law and Ismail Zahir came with a document stating I had made accusations in court that the police arrested me in breach of the rules and regulations of Maldives, and that the police conducted investigations during the case proceedings of a civil court. The document also stated that I said that any of these arrests could not have been made under the law. Many other things I said in court were marked on the document with a highlight pen. The matter under investigation this time was that I had slandered the police, and defamed their reputation, and I was an anti-government person.

This time the matter was very serious, and Abdullah Rasheed told me that I could not say these things in court. I told him that I could. I told him that the fact was the state had prosecuted me for committing a crime, and I had not been sentenced by a court, and that was unequivocal evidence that I had not committed any crime. He replied that he would show me I had committed a crime. He said if I said such things in court, they would take legal action against me.

What is the purpose of the arrest form and the copy of the investigation statement?
When the police arrest someone, they keep the person in custody as long as they like and then make the person sign the 'reason for arrest' form which is backdated to the day of arrest. This is plainly in breach of Maldive law. When they try to do this, those people who understand the law, will refuse to sign the form. As soon as the person refuses to sign, the police will sign it and add a statement recording that the arrested person refused to sign the form. All documents will contain the 'right' date. This unlawful action cannot be proven from evidence in their records.

The statement the person gives during the investigation, or the advice and warnings the police give to the person, are very important documents. I now understand the importance of these documents. A person should receive a copy of any of the documents the person signs. If not, such document could be destroyed or added to, or deletions made. Remember, this is technologically developed era.

During the investigations the police conducted on me, I sometimes attempted to get a copy of the statements. But I was told I could not have copies because they were police documents.

Defence Ministry detention after the investigations
On some occasions when I was released from custody by the Defence Ministry, I had to sign a document that required me to go to the Defence Ministry once a week to sign a register. If I were to be out of Male' for long period or go abroad, I had to get permission to leave. Other times I was kept under house arrest for no assigned length of time. At the end of this month, it will have been four months of house arrest in this way. But I have still not been sentenced by a court .

Harassment to prevent the leasing of the building
After being released from prison in April 1998, I realised it would be very hard to run a business in the building at Vinoalia block. I gave first priority to leasing the business area, but although I advertised in the newspaper, for the rest of the year, I was unable to lease the building.

As soon as I had people about to come to an agreement, my father-in-law and Ismail Zahir would go and see them and warn that there was court case regarding the building, and if they leased it, then my father-in-law and Zahir would take it from them. So there was no one who wanted to lease a building for Rf 15,000 per month [nearly US$1300 at 1998 exchange rate] that could have been leased for as much as Rf 30,000 [US$2,600] at the real current market value.

Eventually, someone who was well aware of the case, leased the building from me by obtaining a guarantee from Ismail Zahir that if the building was taken away from me, then the lessee would be able to make an agreement with Ismail Manik [Luthfee's father-in-law]. The rent was set at only Rf 15,000 a month.

When I was trying to lease the building, my father-in-law caused disturbances in various ways. Once I engaged workmen to alter a set of windows. They had the windows cut out, and were in the process of fitting the new set when he arrived and intimidated them, stopping their work by saying it was his building. The set of windows remain unfinished.

Another noteworthy thing is the occasion when he had two full lorryloads of sand brought in and dumped inside the garage. As a result, the main entrance doors of the building were blocked. When I made a complaint to the police about this, they refused to act on it. After more than 24 hours, I had to pay a group of people to remove this sand and transfer it to Ismail Manik's section of the Vinoalia block. However, after two to three days, the police began investigating the allegation that I had stolen a lorryload of Manik's sand. Luckily, this time I was not imprisoned. They could not prove the theft either.

Even though there was copious evidence that Manik had caused all the trouble, it was found that I had breached the building agreement between us.

Falling ill while under Defence Ministry detention
While I was under Defence detention without a court sentence, I fell ill and informed them. I was told there was no arrangement in place for the government to provide medical treatment. They said they could send the jeep and take me to the hospital. When I asked them how a person who had been detention for three months was going to earn a living, their reply was that it was not their concern. Now I am in the situation where I am being deprived of medical treatment for a sickness.

The future of my life
I had been imprisoned five times in two years, and arrested and kept at the police station many times. It had caused serious psychological problems for my wife and children. When the children see me after a long time, the first thing they ask me is, 'Daddy, did you come from jail?'

And when I return home after going out for a short time, they ask, 'Daddy, did you go to court to today? The police came today looking for you. Why was that?'

I was not surprised when my children asked me these things. The reason is, the police had come to the house so many times and arrested me, or they had come and to ask where I was, or when they come to deliver a summons, everything takes place in front of the children.

The first thing my friends ask when they see me is, 'When did you get released? Saw you the other day in the police jeep. Have been found offending again? What is the problem?'

I have lost my self-confidence. I constantly worry that I will be arrested at any time. My business has failed completely. Every time I get released, I make arrangements for an investment and get ready to start work, but soon I am imprisoned again. People who would normally help me with capital, and those who provide me with guarantees to withdraw over-drafts, and many others who help in these business matters, they have all lost trust in me. The reason is, that all investments involving me have 100% risk. Even I am afraid of getting involved in a business, to the extent I am afraid to work as an employee for anbody else.

In conclusion
The information in this report is the reality of what has happened to me. It is all true. After finishing, I re-read it, and tears came to my eyes. The question that comes to mind is why people who are summoned by the police do not even have the right to speak in defence of themselves? What is the huge crime that I have committed that prompts the government to mount a case in court against me? Is the sentence for these offences a long term banishment? Or a small fine? It is hard to obtain answers to these questions.

* Note: Some of the documents I would like to attach with this report were not included because I was refused permission by the Defence Ministry.

* There is very important information not included in this report. I would like to disclose that information only in the presence of the president.

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