The Maldives Police Service (MPS) is seeking assistance from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Singaporean police to analyse about 200 items collected as evidence during the ongoing investigation into the brutal murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, Superintendent of Police Mohamed Riyaz said at a press briefing on Wednesday.
Superintendent Riyaz said that the murder of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP and moderate religious scholar on October 2 was premeditated and meticulously “planned in advance”, adding that the case was unique and “unprecedented” in the Maldives.
Police have questioned everyone who spoke to the Raa Ungoofaru MP on the night of October 1 after his final appearance on state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM), Inspector Riyaz said. Dr Afrasheem reportedly left the TVM studios around 11pm on October 1.
Evidence gathered so far included recordings of phone conversations, forensic samples and over 300 hours of CCTV footage, Riyaz continued, which were being analysed at the police forensic laboratory with the help of foreign experts.
CCTV footage showed the MP driving his car on his way home, Riyaz revealed. He added that two experts from the FBI were in the Maldives to assist the police investigation.
Addressing complaints over the lack of information made public and the delay in concluding the case, Riyaz said police wanted to conduct a full and thorough investigation instead of “rushing the investigation.”
“Our aim to carry out a thorough investigation and bring everyone involved in this heinous crime to face justice. We are working patiently towards that goal. We assure the media and the public that the police will patiently investigate the case and reveal information in due course,” he said.
Full details of the case would be made public upon conclusion of the investigation, the police superintendent added.
Asked if Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activist Mariyam Naifa – one of six suspects arrested in the case – was released by the Criminal Court due to lack of evidence, Riyaz explained that as a rule the court released suspects in cases where it deems the police investigation could proceed without keeping the suspect in custody.
Five suspects in the homicide case currently remain in detention. Riyaz meanwhile added that police could only reveal information at this stage to an extent that would not compromise or hinder the ongoing investigation.
Meanwhile, in a separate briefing on Wednesday, Head of Central Operations Command, Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Saudhi revealed that police were providing 24-hour security to 81 individuals using 170 police personnel.
Saudhi noted that police were constitutionally obliged to provide security to MPs and members of the judiciary, adding that police began providing round the clock security following the brutal murder of MP Afrasheem while security measures for some individuals were increased based on assessed threat levels.
Noting that police have increased patrolling of streets, the assistant commissioner revealed that officers on patrol have questioned 2,930 individuals in the past few weeks and prepared their profiles.
Saudhi praised the government’s decision to revoke licenses of businesses to operate 24-hours and said that the move was producing results in terms of the number of people out on the streets after midnight.