Detained soldiers released but police launch criminal probe

Lance Corporal Mohamed Fawwaz has been questioned by police after being released from military custody on Friday.

Lance Corporal Mohamed Fawwaz (L) has been questioned by police after being released from military custody on Friday.

Several soldiers detained inside the military headquarters in the latest purge of the security forces were released on Friday as the police launched a criminal investigation into some of the soldiers.

Sources within the military say that four soldiers have been detained inside the military headquarters including a soldier named Fathah who was in security detail of former president Mohamed Nasheed’s spouse, Laila Ali.

Mihaaru understands that one of the soldiers, Lance Corporal Mohamed Fawwaz who is the brother of Fathah had been questioned by police shortly after his release on Friday.

Police confirmed that Fawwaz had been questioned but refused to reveal the nature of the accusation against him.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has so far been tightlipped over the latest purge..

MNDF information officer Adnan Mohamed refused to confirm by insisting that such information would not be shared with the media even if it was true.

The arrests come in the wake of the defence ministry barred soldiers from meeting politicians and foreign diplomats.

MNDF had said soldiers are barred from meeting ministers, lawmakers, political appointees, candidates seeking public office, political party leaders and political activists without prior permission from a senior military official.

The ban also extends to foreign diplomats, officers of foreign armies and other foreign representatives

Soldiers have also been barred from social gatherings attended by politicians and foreigners.

The sudden announcement comes in the wake of president Yameen’s bid to exert his grip on power and thwart efforts by the newly formed opposition coalition to oust him from office.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

Five rival opposition groups had announced a united front to remove president Yameen from office.

The Maldives United Opposition brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

President Yameen has instigated a series of purges of the security forces in his three-year tenure. In November 2014, days after assuming office, he fired nine senior ranking officers on charges of sowing discord.

The head of the armory was dismissed and others were shuffled when the then Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim was arrested on weapons smuggling charges in January last year.

At least six were arrested that October on suspicion of links to an explosion on the president’s speedboat. Three of them are now serving jail terms on terror charges.

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