The fast changing political developments in the Maldives spilled over to Sri Lanka this week as news broke of the arrest of a Lankan national in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen. This was followed with the extradition to the Maldives of one of its nationals resident in Nedimala, Dehiwela, [...]


Maldives’ political effluent washes ashore in SL


The fast changing political developments in the Maldives spilled over to Sri Lanka this week as news broke of the arrest of a Lankan national in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen.

Scene of the crime: Hussain Rasheem, a 28-year-old Maldivian was killed in the outskirts of Colombo last week

This was followed with the extradition to the Maldives of one of its nationals resident in Nedimala, Dehiwela, also in connection with an assassination attempt on President Yameen, while Police began investigating if the murder of another Maldivian national in Sri Lanka is connected to the political development’s there.

News of the arrest of the Sri Lankan was made public this week by the Maldivian Ministry of Foreign Affairs which said through its the official Twitter account that, “A Sri Lankan citizen is under Maldives Police Custody for conspiring to assassinate Maldives President.

The person was arrested on 24 Oct. Investigations reveal some Maldivians paid the Sri Lankan citizen to carry out the operation.” Initial reports said two Lankans were arrested, but Maldivian authorities have confirmed the arrest of only one Lankan so far.

Details regarding the circumstances of the arrest of the Lankan national also remains sketchy, even though his initial 15 days in detention has been extended for another 15 days till November 23.

The presidential speedboat Finifenma, where an attempt was made in September to assassinate Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen. AFP Photo

However, family members of a Sri Lankan national under detention in the Maldives for his alleged link to a plot to assassinate the country‘s president Abdulla Yameen, say the 27-old-man is innocent of wrongdoing.

Family members of the man, Lahiru Madhushanka, who did not wish to speak on record, fearing it would jeopardise attempts to have him released, said that he had gone to the Maldives in mid October to start a dry fish business, when he was arrested.

The family has had no direct contact with Madhushanka since his arrest on October 24, but information has been communicated to them through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Family members also denied he had ever served in the army, but instead, had engaged in menial work here, and in no manner was he skilled to be a sniper, as the Maldivian authorities have alleged.

The Maldives High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Zahiya Zareer met with Sri Lanka Foreign Secretary Chitrangani Wagiswara on Monday and briefed her on the arrest of the Sri Lankan.

Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb is being held on the prison island of Dhoonidhoo after being arrested on suspicion of treason. AFP

Sri Lanka High Commission Officials in Male too have been in contact with the detained Lankan national, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Meanwhile, Police are investigating if the murder of Hussain Rasheem, a 28-year-old Maldivian killed in the outskirts of Colombo last week, on a contract given by a fellow countryman, has any links with another Maldivian who was arrested from the Nedimala area in Dehiwela, and extradited over allegations of involvement in a plot to assassinate President Yameen.

The extradited Maldivian national, Ahmed Ashraf was a self-declared supporter of former Maldivian vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who was impeached by the country’s Parliament last week.

“We have forwarded the fingerprints of the murdered Maldivian national, as well as the main suspect, to authorities there, to see if it can assist in the investigation regarding the plot against the President,” a police official said.

Maldivian Hussain Rasheem and his family members have been residing in Sri Lanka for the past several years, living in Colombo and its suburbs. On Nov. 4, Maldivian Hussain Raheem was invited by a close friend, Bilal, also a Maldivian, to join him on a business trip.

They met in Boralesgamuwa and thereafter, Raheem never returned home. His body was recovered from an abandoned paddy field in Bokundara, Piliyandala.

Chief Inspector Somaratna Wijemuni

Investigations led by Sub Inspector (SI) Duminda Kumara under the supervision of Officer-in-Charge of the station, Chief Inspector (CI) Somaratna Wijemuni, commenced immediately.

“We first found an unidentified body of a youth with stab injuries in an abandoned paddy field and dispatched the body to the morgue, while continuing our investigations. We released his photograph to the media seeking public help to identify him,” SI Kumara explained.

“On the same night, we checked CCTV footage of several houses on the roads in the vicinity and detected a van prowling several times in a suspicious manner. However, we could not trace the van’s number as it was not clear in the footage.”

“On the following day, Raheem’s family members turned up and identified the body. We questioned the family members of the van in the CCTV footage.

They said, one of his close friends was Bilal, who is involved in tourism,” SI Kumara added.Simultaneously, the victim’s wristwatch turned out to be useful in the investigations, as it also had the same features as his phone which was recovered by the Navy from Boralegamuwa wewa.

The last few calls to him had come from unknown numbers, while some of the previous calls to him was from Bilal.

“After questioning Bilal we were able to trace the murder weapon, a knife, hidden in his grandfather’s residence. We were also able to arrest Bilal’s accomplice who was a van driver,” he said.

Police found that the van in which Raheem had travelled, before his murder, had been hired from a rent-a-car service, while new SIM card had been purchased on the day of the crime.

SI Duminda Kumara

The vehicle as well as the clothes worn by the suspects at the time of the murder too were traced. Police investigations reveal that the murder was as a contract killing at the behest of a businessman in the Maldives.

Bilal reportedly claimed that the businessman had offered Rs 14 million for the murder, after several of his own attempts to murder him failed.

According to Bilal, the businessman reportedly claimed he wanted to get rid of Hussain because the businessman’s brother was allegedly murdered by Hussian. Police are further verifying Bilal’s claims.

Bilal reportedly stabbed Raheem eight times inside the van, while the Sri Lankan accomplice pinned Hussain to the seat.

“They had photographed the victim who was nearly dead and sent it via his mobile phone to the Maldivian businessman, who had transferred Rs 500,000 and promised to send the balance at the end of the month,” SI Kumara said.

The two suspects have been further detained for questioning.

Meanwhile, CI Wijemuni said the murder had taken place in the same area from which another Maldivian national was arrested two weeks ago and extradited for his alleged involvement in the plot to assassinate the Maldivian President.

He further said that Police have also decided to conduct checks on a large number of Maldivian nationals resident in areas such as Nedimala, Kohuwela, Dehiwela and Kaduwela. “Many of them are unemployed but have large amounts of money.

Hence, we have to keep a check to see if they have links to drugs and smuggling, etc.,” CI Wijemuni said.

Meanwhile, political developments in the Maldives in the past few weeks drew a strong reaction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Colombo this week.

“Sri Lanka is deeply concerned about recent developments in the Maldives and events that have impacted on Sri Lanka, including the recent arrest of two Sri Lankan nationals in the Maldives, the questionable removal of a Maldivian social media activist who was in possession of a valid Sri Lankan visa, the stabbing of a Maldivian national in Sri Lanka, as well as the state of emergency that has been declared in the Maldives, and the impeachment of the Vice-President.”

The statement also said, “Sri Lanka hopes that the Maldives will take steps to end the state of emergency, initiate measures to respect and protect freedom of expression and ensure that recent developments will not reverse Maldives’ hard-won democratic achievements.”

The state of emergency there was lifted a day after the statement issued by the Sri Lanka’s MFA.

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