Police: Security cam blind spots at airport hindered search for Asir

Police officials attend a meeting with Parliament's Security Services Committee on March 7, 2023. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The security camera blind spots at Velana International Airport (VIA) had posed the biggest challenge in the search for the young man who was found nearly two weeks after he was reported missing from Male’ City, according to the police.

Mohamed Asir Ismail, 31, Gaskara, S. Maradhoo-Feydhoo, went missing on February 4. He was found from the VIA nearly two weeks later, on February 16.

Top police officials were summoned for a meeting with the Parliament’s Security Services Committee (241 Committee) for details regarding the case Tuesday.

At the meeting, Assistant Commissioner of Police Ali Shujau said that police had begun gathering information regarding Asir and had shared his photo and phone number with the Intelligence Department as soon as he was reported missing.

Shujau said that investigators had tracked where his phone was last used and the people he last talked to with the assistance of the Intelligence Department, and had checked security footage from the CCTV cameras near his residence, H. Alshavilla.

Mohamed Asir Ismail, 31, Gaskara, S. Maradhoo-Feydhoo. (Photo/Maldives Police Service)

CCTV footage showed him board a taxi near the Hulhumale’ Ferry Terminal at around 07:20 pm on February 4. It also showed him enter VIA’s terminal.

Shujau said investigators identified the taxi and talked to the taxi driver. The police also reviewed 150 hours of security footage from the CCTV cameras at the VIA, Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA), and near the ferries.

He said that the security camera blind spots at VIA proved to be the biggest challenge in locating Asir.

“The biggest challenge we faced is the multiple blind spots due to the way cameras are installed at the airport. The footage does not show where he went to next,” he said.

Investigators had checked Immigration records to see if Asir had travelled anywhere, and had checked guesthouses in the capital.

He was found 13 days later from the airport – in a security camera blind spot.

“There were no cameras covering where he sat,” said Shujau.

He said that investigators had tried to track Asir’s movements the 13 days he had been missing with support from officers from victim support and his family. Shujau said his movements remained unclear as he hadn’t spoken to police.

Police said Asir had some health issues, and had been taken to a specialist at ADK Hospital.

The specialist advised against questioning Asir at this time, said Shujau.

Though the police disclosed information regarding how they dealt with the case, they did not disclose information that could compromise Asir’s privacy.