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The Luthfee Letters Part 4
NSS ignores Presidential and Court instructions

by Ibrahim Luthfee
Male' 1999
translated by Maldives Culture editors

In 2002 Ibrahim Luthfee received life imprisonment for his part in the writing and publication of the Internet Dhivehi newsletter, Sandhaanu. This newsletter roundly condemned the Gayyoom regime and its security forces for corruption, nepotism and anti-Islamic practices. Sandhaanu's strident calls for 'jihad' against the Maldivian government, and enforcement of Wahhabi-based restrictions on women, seemed to define the newsletter as inspired solely by fanatical Arab ideologies. However, it is becoming clear that Luthfee's radicalism is a product of the regime's brutal treatment and complete disregard for his rights as a Maldivian citizen.


A plea to the President about the building issue
ibrahim moosa luthfee 1996
Ibrahim Luthfee 1996

I was very dissatisfied with the trial proceedings, so I wrote a short but detailed letter to the President (Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom) requesting he reconsider the case. In this letter I briefly explained how the police arrested me several times.

Because the matter was being considered by the President, I had a signed and sealed document from the Chief Magistrate of Civil Court stating that 'Myself, my wife and children and my possessions cannot be removed from the building until the President looks at the matter and makes a decision.'

The third arrest - a tiny cell in Dhoonidhoo
I arrived at the police station at 11.00 o'clock on 3 July 1999 to answer a summons from the police demanding clarification of some information. It was nearly 1.00 p.m. when I was taken upstairs and shown a draft document prepared by Jadullah Nazim during my time in prison in February 1998. It alleged I had disobeyed authority. I had been summoned to sign this document, because I had not signed it before.

I was instructed to sign it immediately, but as soon as I saw the document I knew exactly what it was. I replied briefly and plainly to the investigating officer, and he told me to wait. Half an hour later, I was taken upstairs once again and told that the officer who originally took the statement had said that it was a statement I had given. I was told to sign it and return home.





I repeated the same thing I had said before and again I was kept waiting. Just before three o'clock in the afternoon, Warrant Officer Abdullah Rasheed led me to another policeman and instructed him to delete my name from the register, and to take me to prison. Without giving me the opportunity even to ask why I was being imprisoned, I was suddenly locked up in small cell in the police station.

After being held in this cell for a day, I was told to get ready to go to Dhoonidhoo island (just north of Malé). I was still in Malé the following morning when the cell was opened and I was taken out and told to sign the 'Form stating the reason for imprisonment'. It said: I was being imprisoned 'because he had falsified his name and address in a court case against him.' Instantly I said that this was a document written in breach of rules and regulations and not based on any factual matter.

Warrant Officer Abdullah Rasheed arrived and said, 'There it is, he didn't sign it?' and signalled to the other policemen, 'Sign it (as witnesses),' he said, 'and send him off to Dhoonidhoo.' That was sometime in the morning on 5 July 1999.

Less than an hour after being in prison an investigating team arrived and I was taken outside. Nearby, Abdullah Rasheed and Assistant Commissioner of Police Sodiq were talking to each other. At the desk I was met by a person I later became familiar with, Warrant Officer Class 2 Ahmed Faseehu. When I was asked how this problem had arisen, I explained (to Ahmed Faseehu) the whole story in detail. As he listened, he took notes in point form. After I finished, he lowered his head in deep thought, and then he asked me many questions.

Some of Faseehu's more notable comments
I'm just puzzled how someone who is so innocent has been accused of falsifying his name and address to the police. It is hard to believe. If that investigation (Jadullah's investigation) had been carried out by me, and if you Ibrahim had given me an incorrect name and failed to give me your identity card, I would have checked your name by sending a fax to Hithadhoo island, on Seenu atoll.

The other puzzling matter is that there is a later statement by Jadullah, that you had not misled the police about the name and address. And also in that statement there is reference to other documents regarding this matter. The problem is that in your court case when the claims were made against you, the magistrate refused to accept the case because of this mis-matching of the name and address. If there is a smallest anomaly, the court will not accept the case. I believe you have not falsified your name and address.

Later on, I told Faseehu that on the day I was detained at the police station, Jadullah took everything I had with me, including my ID card and driver's licence. When I was sent to the prison, my ID card was returned to me, along with a receipt for the other personal belongings. On the other side of this receipt I have drawn a set of squares to count prayers during my time in prison. I took this receipt home with me when I was released, and I think I left it somewhere in my house. All the information on my ID card is also in my driver's licence booklet. My identity number also is in the licence booklet. Therefore Jadullah had my complete identification information. The allegation that I falsified my identification cannot be reasonably accepted.

After I said all this to Faseehu, he told me he had learnt a lot by questioning me, and had found nothing to show that I was a disobedient person. Then he got up and shook my hand. He said I was in prison under his care, and that it was unacceptable for him to waste time keeping an innocent person in prison. He said that the following day he would write a draft statement and get me sign it and release me straight away. With these encouraging words, he left. All this time, Abdullah Rasheed and Sodiq were within hearing distance.

Eye infection, no ventilation
I stayed in a tiny cell for a week without any news. My eyes swelled up with an infection similar to conjunctivitis. I pleaded in vain for a doctor and after nearly 10 days I was suddenly taken to Malé late in the afternoon and put in another tiny cell. When I asked why I was being told I was going to see a doctor, and then ended up in a tiny cell, the reply was that I would see a doctor the next day.

Due to the lack of ventilation in the Malé cell, my eye condition worsened. In the morning I asked to see an eye specialist, but I was taken to Doctor Mohamed Ahmed. He gave me several medications and in the afternoon I was sent back to the cell in Dhoonidhoo. My eyes reacted badly to the medication and the condition worsened. About a week later I was taken to Malé to see Dr Imthiaz and received more medication. By then I noticed that my eyesight was deteriorating. It took 20 agonising days for my eyes to heal completely after taking the medication prescribed by Dr Imthiaz.

Another false statement
On the day I was in Malé to see a doctor, I tried to see Faseehu but after being told I would be able to see him, he never appeared. Around 22 July, I was brought to Malé and summoned into the presence of a corporal. He gave me a statement prepared on a computer and I was told to read it. The statement said that I had disobeyed orders, and when I was brought to the police and questioned I had falsified my name and address and also given a false name for my father.

At the end of the statement there were two or three names of police officers who were to witness that I was given this statement. I asked where Faseehu was, and said I would like to see him. While the corporal was searching in vain for him, Corporal Abdullah Rasheed came and said, 'Refused sign... you people sign it and send him off.'

Then Abdullah Rasheed asked me why I wanted to see Faseehu. I explained that Faseehu and I had discussions regarding this matter. Without a response, he made the police officers sign the statement in front of me, claiming that I have refused to sign it. Once again I was sent away to a tiny cell in Dhoonidhoo island.

Ministry of Defense intervention
After 30 days in prison, I was brought to Malé to be handed over to the Defence Ministry. A young woman (not a police officer) from the Defence Ministry was leading me out of the police building when Abdullah Rasheed appeared in front of us. He immediately asked her where she was taking me to, and I did not hear very clearly what she said. However, Abdullah Rasheed said loudly that I should not be sent home under any circumstances, and that I was not brought to Malé to be sent home. He said I must be sent to Maafushi island. He told her to contact Faseehu and to inform him that he had said this. 'If Faseehu cannot be contacted by phone, then page and inform him,' he said before walking away.

After some time, the woman said to me that I would be sent home and kept under house arrest. When I asked why, she said Faseehu had said so. I replied that I had not breached any law and it would be in breach of law to put me under house arrest, hence I do not wish to be kept under house arrest under those conditions. I was told that if I refused to be kept under house arrest, then she has instructions to send me to Maafushi prison, so I returned to my house under home detention.

After a week of home detention, on 9 August 1999, I was taken to the Defence ministry and a person in normal clothes told me that I cannot be kept under house arrest at Vinoalia house in Henveiru ward in Malé. When I asked why, the reply was that Vinoalia house had been returned to the owner because I have breached the rental agreement. It was the verdict of the Civil Court which had been upheld by the High Court.

When I said that despite these decisions of the Civil Court and High Court, according to the judicial system of Maldives I had made an appeal to the President to consider the case. Until the President's Office deliberates and makes a decision on the matter, myself, my wife, children and property cannot be removed from Vinoalia house. I said I have documented evidence from the Civil Court and the President's Office to prove that this was the case. I was told to wait.

About two hours later, a police officer came and asked me what I was talking about. This time I was being questioned while sitting at a desk in front of many people who had been summoned to the police station for various reasons. The person was talking to me so loudly that all those who were present would have clearly heard what he was saying. I answered his questions in detail, and said that I had these two documents. But he insisted that I could not stay under house arrest in Vinoalia and I must stay at some other house. I said I could not move out of a house I have paid to build, and then rent another place while I was under house arrest. I was told that if I did not have another house to stay, I would be sent to Maafushi prison on that very day. This made me angry, but I managed to control myself and asked him who was the chief of the Defence Ministry. He replied that it was al-usthaz Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. When I asked him whether Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom was the President, he replied yes. So I asked him if he accepted that a document from the President's Office saying that the President says such and such (and based on this document and the documentation, signed by the Chief Magistrate of the Civil Court, stating that I, my family and property must not be removed from Vinoalia house) was official, he replied, 'Yes.'

I put to him that if they (the police) accept that what is in those documents is correct, then they are required to follow the instructions in these documents, and when they tell me that I cannot stay in Vinoalia house, I take it to mean that they are not following the instructions of the President. He said he believed all what I was saying about those documents, but he told me if I did not wish to be transferred to another house to stay under house detention, then I must get ready to go to Maafushi prison at two o'clock. At this moment I noticed some of the people around us shook their heads and made a loud 'tsk' sound. If he accepted all that I was saying, why wasn't he listening to me? He agreed that was partly true.

I agreed to rent a room for Rf 3,500/- (US$280) per month, and I stayed there under home detention.





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