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The Luthfee Letters Part 2
by Ibrahim Luthfee
Male' 1999
translated by Maldives Culture editors

Links to important sections of Part 2:
The Maldivian government accuses me of disobeying authority.
Who is Ismail Zahir?
Zahir assaults me at the Civil Court.
Second detention in Gaamaadhoo and Maafushi Prison.

Ismail Manik and a claim of 'non-payment of rent' in the Civil Court:
Shortly after I was released from prison, Ismail Manik filed a case against me for the 'non-payment of rent'. However, the claim did not have a strong basis. This case was justly determined, and the court held that there were no grounds for the termination of the agreement. When one looks at the judgment in this case, doesn't it show clear evidence that the police had arrested me in breach of the laws and regulations of Maldives? When I was instructed to deposit the rent money, Ismail Manik refused to accept the outstanding rent, so I deposited all of the money at the court. During the trial, I explained in detail how, in relation to this civil matter, I was summoned to the police, and when I refused to agree to hand over the building, I was imprisoned. I also detailed the brutality I was subjected to.

The 'demolition of the building' claim Ismail Manik raised in the Civil Court:
The court also ruled that this case had no basis.

Claim for the eviction of my family and myself from Vinoalia in Henveiru ward:
Ismail Manik did not succeed in this claim. My wife, myself, and our three children were living in a section of a building that I built at my own expense, so his attempt to evict us was unsuccessful.

The Maldivian government accuses me of disobeying authority
This is the first litigation the government had ever begun against me. The case was raised in mid-1998. The Criminal Court served me a notice to attend the court, and gave my name as Ibrahim Luthfee. At the commencement of the trial, when I was asked my name I gave my full name, the magistrate obtained my ID Card from me, and then asked me if any of my father's children were called Ibrahim. In reply, I said that there was no one other than me called Ibrahim. When the magistrate said to the state prosecutor that my name, address, father's name and age were inconsistent, the prosecutor pointed at me and said that, according to my wife, my full name was Ibrahim Luthfee. I said my wife may have said that, but it was inaccurate, and my full name and address were on the ID Card.

From what the magistrate said to the state prosecutor, I understood that the statement of claim contained my address as Emmudige house, Hithadhoo island, Seenu atoll, and my father's name was Moosa Ali. When the magistrate questioned me in detail, I explained how I was held in custody in the Police office and then this charge of disobeying authority was concocted. The magistrate looked surprised. He told me to wait outside, and short while later he sent me home.

A second court action by Ismail Manik to evict my family and myself from Vinoalia in Henveiru ward
On the very first day, the hearing was cancelled. The reason, said the civil court, was that Ismail Manik has raised the matter at the Defence Ministry and that ministry was investigating the case. I had been summoned to the Defence Ministry couple of times and questioned.

Summons at the Police Office
On a notice sent to me by Staff Sergent Jadullah Nazim I went to his desk, and there was the statement he had written claiming I have 'disobeyed authority'. He asked me what happened in court. I answered the question properly. He said that previously, they had written my name incorrectly, and I had been called to his desk to correct that.

He asked me to give a statement that I had been imprisoned for two months, starting from 22 February 1998, in Gaamaadhoo prison for the purpose of an investigation about disobeying police orders. I refused, and in detail I made it clear that writing a statement contrary to the facts, giving me incorrect interpretation of the law, holding me in custody, and intervening into a civil case, had caused me grievous harm.

When he asked me what my statement would be, I said that I would give a statement saying that I had been arrested in regard to a civil matter involving a building. He did not want a statement like that, and he wrote his own statement. It said:
'From 22 February 1998 until my release, I had been imprisoned on a matter that was under investigation by the police, and I had not falsified my name and address, and had not given the police any false information.'
I signed four copies of this statement.

Who is Ismail Zahir?
The honourable member for Dhaalu Atoll since 1994, Ismail Zahir of Finihiyaage house, Kudahuvadhoo island, Dhaalu Atoll, used to work in a tailor's shop about 15 years ago. It is attached to the property of Vaifilaage in Henveiru ward, which is across the road from Vinoalia.

At that time he had a wife and two children. However, he went to a lot of trouble to establish a relationship with Agleema, the second daughter of Ismail Manik the owner of Vinoalia, and Zahir succeeded. Soon after, he asked her parents for her hand in marriage, but both parents totally rejected the idea. Due to the parents' refusal, he developed a grudge against them and began a harassment campaign. Sometimes he yelled at them, using offensive language, and because of this he was kept under house arrest a couple of times.

Zahir's resentment deepened against Agleema's parents, and he made her to take her father to the court to obtain paternal consent for the marriage. From a very young age, Agleema had been looked after by her father's older brother, Fusthulhaage Thuththu Manik. A part of the Fusthulhaage house had been registered in her name. After Zahir and Agleema were married, they both lived in the Agleema's section of that house which was named Agi. But even after the marriage, apparently, Zahir still went to Vinoalia house and caused serious trouble. It is also said that one day he purposely bumped into Agleema's mother, while she was walking along the street. After the marriage, Zahir and Agleema cut off all contact with the family.

Contact between Ismail Manik and Zahir was re-established after Ismail Manik began his attempts to take away the building from me, and all the children of the family and my mother-in-law were opposed to this action.

Zahir told his father-in-law, Ismail Manik, that he knew how to get control of the building, and Ismail Manik gave him power of attorney. Ismail Manik then moved to the house where Zahir and his wife Agleema were living. A copy of this power of attorney is attached with this report.

Zahir assaults of my wife
On 22 July 1998 Zahir came with this power of attorney to my house at Vinoalia, and said to me that he had come for a reason. Because I knew his temperament and past behaviour, I went inside the house without answering him. Shortly after, he hit my wife in the stomach and left. Although this was reported to the police, there was no investigation of the matter. Up until now, we have not received any response.

Zahir assaults me for the first time
One afternoon, Zahir suddenly appeared at our house with the police. As soon as came in, I asked him to leave. He showed me the power of attorney, like someone from a Hindi film. Without any further discussion, I told him to get out of the house. I also said that I would not look at any document he had to show me.

When he did not leave after being asked many times, I requested the police to take him out. There was a signal from the officers and he moved outside the door. The police questioned me, and said that they had come to check a report that I had demolished a section of the building. I said that I had not demolished any part of the building. When the three children of Ismail Manik had returned from studying in India, there had been nowhere for them to sleep. As a temporary place, I had re-opened a door way that had been sealed, and installed a door in one of the rooms in the building that I had built. The police looked at the new door, and then they told me to come to the police office. As we came out of the house, in the presence of the officers, Zahir said, 'I'll get you out of there, boy.' In the presence of many other witnesses Zahir is known to have said, 'The law and legal power is in our hands. We'll do what we like.'

At the Police office they tried to make me sign a statement that said: 'If anything is done in Vinoalia, Henveiru ward, that would in any way disturb Ismail Manik (Fusthulhaa), then I will be summoned to the police station and legal measures will be taken against me, whether I admit to the allegations or not. I am warned.'

When I refused to sign this statement, I was threatened with detention at the police station. I continued to refuse to sign, and they kept me in custody in the prison at the Odeon office for 18 days. Eventually they took a statement I consented to. They made me sign it and sent me home. The policeman who handled the matter asked me not have hard feelings against him, because he was acting on orders from his superiors, and had been ordered to force me to sign a statement.

By the way, my agreement concerning the Vinoalia property, allows me to alter parts of the building.

Ismail Manik hits me on the mouth and makes it bleed
During these disputes, my father-in-law Ismail Manik hit me on the mouth and there was serious bleeding. My wife phoned the police station, and when the police jeep arrived, I was also taken with them. I said to the police that I would like to make an assault complaint. However, the case was put aside.

Zahir takes me to the Civil Court
Zahir raised a case against me in the civil court based on false allegations of non-payment of rent and demolishing a section of Vinoalia in August 1998. However, the case was cancelled due to his failure to attend the court after being notified twice. Zahir was informed that there could be no further legal proceedings concerning this property for at least 90 days.

Zahir assaults me at the Civil Court
According to the rules of civil court procedure, if a case is cancelled due to the complainant's failure to attend to the court, the same case shall only be tried after 90 days from the date of the cancellation. However, after only 30 days, he filed a second case and when the court accepted it, I went to see the chief magistrate of the civil court and pointed this out to him. As well, I went to the Justice ministry, and raised the issue with some of the senior officials there. Despite this, the case proceeded.

On the first day of the trial, when the magistrate asked what was my response to the allegations, I replied that I did not accept that the case was legitimate. I said I had been informed that the case had been cancelled, and it could not be tried until after 90 days had elapsed. I said that because the case was proceeding contrary to the rules of the civil court, I would not respond to any of the allegations. Zahir and I were asked to go outside.

I was first to open the door to leave the room, but Zahir walked out before me. We came out into a narrow space between a wall and a desk. Just as door shut behind me, Zahir swung his foot up and kicked me on the left shin with his boot. To prevent a second kick I lifted up my right foot, blocking the blow. My foot hit somewhere on his leg. Straight away he yelled, asking why I hit him. I immediately reported the matter to chief magistrate.

When Zahir was summoned to the magistrate and was asked why he hit me, he denied it. I was wearing black trousers and there was a dust mark where he hit me. The chief magistrate pointed to the dust mark on my trousers and said that is where you hit. Zahir said I had rubbed my shoes on my trousers. When I complained and condemned Zahir's act, and asked for it to be investigated, it was decided that we should both be sent to police headquarters. Zahir desperately wanted to avoid this. He gave many excuses, but eventually he went after being warned he might be taken by force. Zahir told me he had the law in his hands, and by using the power of the law, he would soon evict me from the building. Many people must have heard this. The Defence Ministry took him upstairs. I was sent home. As I was being sent away, I was told that the Police office would look into my complaint, and to take care.

Second detention in Gaamaadhoo and Maafushi Prison
I came home, and after lunch I sat down to write a letter to the President [Maumoon Gayyoom] explaining in detail what had happened that day. Suddenly, the police jeep arrived with an emergency order, 'Come to the police station right now!' and I was taken away.

The police questioned me about a complaint made by Zahir that I had physically assaulted him. When I explained in detail what had happened, the officer wrote down my statement and made four copies of it.

In the fight with Zahir, I suffered abrasions to my leg. According to the policeman, Ismail Zahir also had an abrasion. We were not questioned in each other's presence.

After the investigation was over, I did not see the policeman who questioned me, and I was not taken to the hospital for a medical report on my leg. After keeping me in detention for 24 hours in the police station, (in breach of section 15 of the law), they tried to make me sign the form containing the reason for my detention. When I said that I would sign only after writing the date and time of my arrest, their reply was that they did not care if I did signed it or not. I wrote down the date and time of my detention anyway and signed it. I was arrested and detained without being informed why. An action in breach of the law.

On the second day of my detention, I was sent to Gaamaadhoo jail. When they tried to send me there, I told them I would like to make arrangements for the payment of my rent for the leased building, and so my wife could withdraw money from the bank for her and the children. They said yes, but I was sent straight off to jail.

After keeping me there for a while, I was transferred to the prison in Maafushi island. I was kept in a dormitory containing 104 people. There was only one tiny toilet for the 104 inmates. I have an illness of the bowel, and due to difficulties using the toilet, I became seriously constipated. There was a constant queue at the toilet for 24 hours a day. I explained my condition to the prison warders, and mentioned the rent for the leased building and the maintenance expenses of my wife and children. To many of the police officers, I explained that if the rent was not paid, the lease agreement would be cancelled.

After 22 days in prison, I fell seriously ill and was taken out of the cell and was put on an intravenous drip. Next morning I was back in the cell. Two days later I was so ill I was taken out again. I was seriously weak and the doctor advised for me to be sent to Male' as an emergency case. But the police would not allow it. I heard the policemen asking the doctor to put give me the intravenous drip again. I was left on a stretcher they used to cart me out of my cell early in the morning.

A group of policemen came up and opened a bottle of intravenous fluid. They sat me up, and poured it into my mouth. Before half of the contents went into my stomach, I began to vomit. When I threw up, they let me lie there.

Fusfaru, the prison chief came and spoke to me. He told me to try and eat something, and that I would be taken to Male' and released. He sent me a cup of milk and a large bun. I was very weak. I had no strength in my arms or legs. Someone fed me the milk in small amounts. A short while later a large force of police came and yelled at me. 'If you don't eat we won't take you to Male'! This has happened because you people burnt the jail, hasn't it? [Despite your efforts, the president] has just been elected for a fifth term, there you are! When you burnt the prison, our laws and regulationswere also burnt. You are lying there pretending to be sick, aren't you?'

They pulled me upright and I fell. They held me and put my shoes on. I fell over again. Then they carried me in the stretcher, rocking it violently. 'This prick is pretending,' they said. 'He'll recover when we put him in the sea.' They dropped me with the stretcher onto the jetty. Some people put me on a launch and poured a bottle of intravenous fluid into my mouth. I don't know what happened after that.

When I woke up, I was in the casualty ward at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Male', connected to an intravenous drip. It was late afternoon, and beside me was someone from the Department of Correction. He said that he had been told to take me to the authorities to arrange my release, when the intravenous treatment was finished. Around 9 o'clock that night, with the help of another man, he put me in a taxi and took me to Defence ministry and made a phone call, and then again took me to the police station. The young man at the counter seemed to have understood how ill I was. I heard him mention my name frequently over the phone to the people upstairs. I was barely able to sit up.

After a long time, a group of people came and took me to a cell at the Odeon police station. While I was kept in that prison my condition seriously deteriorated. I had began to vomit blood after a cup of coffee in hospital. I was taken again to the hospital and the same doctors were on duty. I heard the doctors ask why I was taken out of the hospital against their advice. This time, I was admitted properly to the hospital. Soon after sunrise, a force of police arrived. They brought buns, milk, eggs, juice, bananas and many other things. A police officer gently patted my head and said, 'The police didn't hurt you, did they?' I replied by nodding my head. I was told that my wife had been sent for, and when she arrived, I would be left in her care and released from detention. Soon after, my wife arrived and I was free. I stayed in hospital for three days and then went home.








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