The case of two missing persons took an unexpected turn Tuesday, when one of the missing men was found in a guesthouse in Male’ and arrested for murder.
Mohamed Nizam, 45, Manaaru, GDh. Thinadhoo; and Mohamed Liton, 35, Bangladesh, was reported missing after departing from Vilimale’ on a fuel boat on December 28. The boat was found adrift off Hulhule’ the next day.
Their disappearance was investigated by the Serious and Organized Department – raising suspicions it wasn’t an ordinary missing persons’ case.
On Monday, a Twitter user posted a selfie with one of the missing men - Nizam - at a café in Male’ City. The police, who had been searching for the missing men via sea, expanded their search to Male’. He was arrested under court order Tuesday.
Sun has been informed through a credible source Nizam is suspected of killing Liton, and trying to cover up the murder by pretending to go missing at sea.
LITON HANDLED LARGE AMOUNTS OF CASH
Sources from the fuel trade report Liton had years of experience in the trade. He worked for Fuel Power; a private business owned by a local. Liton headed the company’s operations.
He purchased fuel from importers and sold it to vessels. He was known to carry a large amount of cash.
“He always carried between MVR 800,000-MVR 900,000 in cash. He would purchase fuel from us and immediately pay in cash. He kept the cash on the boat,” said an official from a company involved in importing fuel.
The boat Liton works out of is usually anchored at the Vilimale’ lagoon. He hired captains to drive the boat on a need-to basis.
“Nizam was someone who Liton would hire. He would hire a captain on temporary basis when he needed to make a trip. Liton usually lived on the boat alone. He slept and did everything on the boat,” said a close friend on Liton, who spoke to Sun on condition of anonymity.
LITON KILLED FOR MONEY?
Most fuel boats anchor at or outside the Vilimale’ lagoon. It’s a tight-knit community. Liton was well-known and well-liked by locals involved in the fuel trade. It was well-known that he handled large amounts of cash, despite living a simple life.
“He would treat us with coffees and meals. He would pay for everything. He was a good man. I am deeply saddened by what happened,” said a source who works on a fuel boat.
Three people who work on fuel boats who gave interviews to Sun share the same suspicion; Nizam killed Liton for money. Liton’s friends do not believe there could have been any other motive, or any other dispute between the two.
Those who know Nizam report he was a history of drug abuse and theft. They believe it likely Nizam could have killed Liton for money. This has yet to be verified through official channels.
“I believe Nizam killed him to steal his money. I don’t think Nizam operated alone. He probably did it with others. I don’t think he could have killed someone on his own,” said a source who personally knows both Nizam and Liton.
WAS THE BODY FOUND IN V. ATOLL LITON’S?
Less than a week after they were reported missing, police found a dead body in the waters to the north west of the Vemparu lagoon in V. Atoll.
The body was decomposed, making identification without forensic tests impossible.
“A dead body in water will collect a lot of moisture. And fish and other marine animals will eat the body. Therefore, its possible that the features become distinguishable, even in six days,” said Dr. Usama Umar, a general medicine doctor.
Police are working on Identifying the body. They have not disclosed any details. However, they are reportedly operating under the assumption it could be Liton’s body.
Nizam and Liton’s movements after departure from Vilimale’ are unclear. Boat captains report that based on the current, its possible for a body thrown overboard from K. Atoll to drift to V. Atoll within a few days.
“For example, a person is killed and the body thrown into the waters outside K. Atoll. Based on the wind and current, the body may drift to V. Atoll in around six days. But we don’t know if it wasn’t done in V. Atoll itself, do we?” said a captain.
Police have released little detail regarding the case.
However, based on comments from Liton’s friends and the police investigation, the suspicion falls squarely on Nizam.