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The Luthfee Letters Part 6
Upset mothers and crying policeman prompt return to Maafushi prison

by Ibrahim Luthfee
Male' 1999
translated by Maldives Culture editors

Ibrahim Luthfee's legal problems began when he refused to rent the house he was occupying to the Minister of Health Ahmed Abdullah for new offices of the Miadhu newspaper which is sometimes edited by President Gayyoom. Luthfee and his family were subjected to continuous harrassment by NSS officers and others acting on behalf of this minister and his associates. Sustained by the power of his conscience and Islamic faith, Luthfee refused to submit to these injustices. His enraged NSS captors continued to make false allegations and keep him in prison without legal reason. Many other Maldivians experience the same treatment if they question or defy the arbitrary decisions of their rulers.

Off to the Maafushi prison for the fifth time in two years
On 8 September 1999, three days after Faseehu testified in court, the police jeep arrived around 2.30 p. m. and under an emergency order I was taken to the police stationed and checked in. Without any questioning or food, I was kept there until 1 o'clock in the morning when a policeman came and took me to the prison and locked me up.
Luthfee: Why am I being imprisoned?
Policeman: You'll find out tomorrow.
Luthfee: Are you aware that I am under detention by the Defence ministry?
Policeman: Yes!, I know.
Luthfee: Are you also aware that there is a court proceeding in Civil Court involving me?
Policeman: Yes! I know.
Luthfee: So you are aware of all these matters?
Policeman: Yes!

After keeping me locked up, I was taken out the next day and met by Staff Sergeant Adam Ibrahim.

Adam: What is the matter here?
Luthfee: What is the matter here?
Adam: Where has this problem proceeded to?

I gave the details.

Adam: Where's the receipt paper?
Luthfee: I have it. Why?
Adam: Why not give it to us. We are thinking of bringing the problem to a close. That would be the end of it.
Luthfee: The receipt belongs to me. I am not handing it over.
Adam: (changing his tone) Did you phone Jadullah's mother and speak to her using foul language?
Luthfee: Why would I speak in foul language?
Adam: Did you contact Jadullah's mother?
Luthfee: I did not contact her knowingly. When I rang to speak to Jadullah, I found I was speaking to Jadullah's mother.
Adam: Why were you looking for Jadullah?
Luthfee: To obtain testimony that I did not falsify my name and address.
Adam: Jadullah would not testify to support you.
Luthfee: That's not a problem. The efforts I make to obtain evidence in my defence have nothing to do with you, sir.
Adam: You'll find out it does matter. Did you phone Faseehu's mother and speak abusively? And did you say Faseehu lied under oath?
Luthfee: That is a ridiculous question! I am not afraid of talking about the fact that Faseehu lied under oath. Not only here, but right in front of Faseehu and the court magistrate, I said Faseehu lied under oath. I have said that to many people. I will say it again. Why should I phone Faseehu's mother and abuse her. I have nothing to do with Faseehu's mother. First you claim that I phoned Jadullah's mother and spoke abusively and then you say I phoned Faseehu's mother and abused her too. What is the matter with you all?
Adam: You'll find out. You don't understand your size, so this time we'll teach you what your size really is. We'll make sure you are sentenced over your other court case. But these matters are also an issue. We'll make sure you get a sentence over this, as well. You go around telling everyone that Faseehu has lied under oath. Faseehu was crying! Who are the people you have told that Faseehu lied under oath?
Luthfee: You are a police officer. How can a police officer hand out a court sentence? Isn't it the magistrate who passes sentence in court? I am prepared to hear the verdict. I'm not afraid of being sentenced.'

I gave him list of people who I had talked to about Faseehu lying under oath.

Adam: This time we'll release you after filing you down a little. The previous time we also took you down a peg or two. This prick thinks he is really great. Get out! Go into the cell and lay there.

Even after six days in custody I was not told why I was kept in gaol. The next day, someone called Ahmed Nafiz took a statement from me. I said that I phoned Jadullah to see if he would give evidence for me, and I had not spoken to his mother or Faseehu's mother in foul language but I admitted that I said that Faseehu lied under oath, and I said this in the court during the proceedings, and had said the same to my family, friends and legal advisors. After signing four copies of the statement, I asked him why I was being sent to prison. He said he did not know. I advised him that if he wished find out the truth he should summon the mothers of Jadullah and Faseehu and ask them in my presence about what has been alleged that I have said to them. He said that he would summon them, and ask them about what happened.

But I knew their investigation was over. I was in prison to be filed down and reduced in size. On the seventh day after being locked up, they tried to make me sign the form stating why I was being held. But the time for that was long gone, I refused to sign it.

After being in prison for twenty days [in Maafushi prison], I was brought to Malé and in a police jeep they paraded me through town before being taken to the Criminal Court. I tried to see the chief magistrate through a secretary in the court, but I had not been brought to the court for any legal reason. Only when I am summoned there by the court will I be able to see the magistrate if I so request. After keeping me there for three-four hours, I was taken to a prison in the Corrections department. It was nearly three o'clock when I was taken to the police station and locked in a cell there. In the evening at about 5.30 p.m. I was taken out to see Nafiz.

Nafiz: With regard to the alleged claim against Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee for verbally abusing the mothers of Jadullah and Faseehu, the investigation did not show any substantial evidence the case can be proven against Ibrahim Moosa Luthufee, and for this reason he is released from custody in which he had been held by the police for the purpose of their investigations.
Luthfee: Aren't you going to get me to sign the release form?
Nafiz: This is the end of the matter. What's the use of a signature?
Luthfee: Then, in that case, may I go home?
Nafiz: Wait for a moment! I'll be back.

After some time he came back and tried to take me into a jeep. I asked him where he was taking me.

Nafiz: I have contacted the Defence ministry. They said to keep you in the house where Defence had you in detention.

I was kept there paying Rf 3500/- in rent each month while remaining in detention. I paid the people in the house Rf 1,000/- per month for meals twice a day. I was separated from my wife and children and unable to make any income for nearly four months.

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