Police make three arrests in Rilwan and Yameen Rasheed murder probes

Combined file photos of (from L-R) Ahmed Ismail (Ahandhu) and Ismail Abdul Raheem (Isu). (Photo/Maldives Police Service)

Police have arrested three suspects in a special operation launched in connection to the 2014 abduction and murder of a reporter and 2017 murder of a blogger - two high-profile cases under investigation by the Disappearances and Deaths Commission (DDCom).

Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, 28, a journalist who worked for Minivan News (later renamed Maldives Independent), was last seen on August 8, 2014. He is believed to have been abducted and murdered.

Meanwhile, Yameen Rasheed, 29, a blogger and rights activist, was stabbed to death in the stairwell of his residence in Male’ City, M. Spatula, on April 23, 2017. 

Authorities believe both cases to be linked to violent extremism.

Police have confirmed they made three arrests under court order on Sunday. They are:

  • Ahmed Ismail (Ahandhu), 39, Ma. Faagafilage, K. Male’
  • Ahmed Muaz (Gut Mua), 40, Dhafthar no. RS8499, K. Male’
  • Ismail Abdul Raheem (Isu), 30, M. Lagoon View, K. Male’

Police said in a statement that all three men were suspected of involvement in committing acts of terrorism in planning and executing the crimes related to the two cases, and facilitating the crimes.

Preliminary investigative findings by DDCom showed Rilwan was abducted and murdered. He was forced into a car while on his way to his apartment in Hulhumale’, forced on a boat registered to AA. Ukulhas, on board which he was decapitated and his body thrown overboard.

His body was never recovered

The case produced charges against only two suspects; Alif Rauf, H. Hilton, K. Male’, and Mohamed Noorddeen, Karankaage, GDh. Vaadhoo.

Both of them were acquitted.

Meanwhile, six suspects were put on trial for Yameen Rasheed's murder; Ismail Haisham Rasheed (H. Annaarumaage, K. Male'), Ahmed Zihan Ismail (M.Iraasmikge, K. Male’), Mohamed Dhifran (Simbadge, G. Dh. Gadhdhoo), Hassan Shifaz (M. Kudhehige, K. Male'), Ismail Rasheed (M. Thaaif, K. Male'), and Hussain Ziyad (M. Kolhufushi East, K. Male'.   

They were charged with murder with intent using a sharp-edged weapon.   

The court issued its ruling in the case on January 19.

Haisham and Zihan – who were accused of active involvement in the murder – were found guilty of the murder. They were issued life sentences and ordered to pay MVR 1.3 million as diya (financial compensation). 

The other four suspects were acquitted. 

DDCom had suspended its investigation when the trial began, and resumed the investigation after it ended.