Three former Commissioners of Police denied statements made by Minister of Home Affairs Imran Abdulla alleging that neglect on the part of former home minister Umar Naseer caused delays in the extradition of Abdulla Luthfee.
Former police commissioners Ahmed Areef, Hussain Waheed, and Abdulla Riyaz spoke in defence of Umar, rejecting claims that previous governments did not take action on the matter despite being capable of doing so.
Abdulla Luthfee, who orchestrated the coup of November 3, 1988, which resulted in the death of 19 Maldivians, handed himself over to the Maldivian embassy in Sri Lanka on May 1.
While government authorities were sitting on this information for two months, former Home Minister Umar Naseer exposed the situation, pressuring the government to address the issue. Imran was summoned to the parliament amidst the ensuing build-up of public criticism.
Speaking during a recent parliament session, Home Minister Imran stated that Luthfee was not extradited in former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration because Umar refused to authorise Luthfee's extradition.
According to Imran, Umar prioritized other matters over Luthfee's extradition.
Certain high-ranking officers also stated that Umar did not accord much importance to the matter when Luthfee's whereabouts were discovered during an operation. Umar was accused of acting as such on two separate occasions.
Speaking to the media, Areef stated that the previous government initiated several efforts to extradite Luthfee and asserted that Imran's claims were fabrications.
Hussain asserted that Umar did not discourage Luthfee's extradition while he was serving as Police Commissioner in 2014. He further described Imran's claims as personal opinions.
"Locating Luthfee was a priority of Minister Umar and President Yameen", stated Hussain.
In a lengthy Facebook post, Hussain criticized Imran's statements as excuses to cover his own failings in Luthfee's case. Additionally, he stated that Imran's claims were aimed to deceive parliamentarians.
Former police commissioner and current Thimarafushi MP Riyaz stated that the police did not require permission from the Home Minister to track down a fugitive.
The coup conspirator was brought back to Maldives aboard an EK flight at 2130 hrs on Tuesday.
Luthfee absconded during the presidency of Mohamed Nasheed upon being allowed to go abroad for medical treatment.
Following the series of bomb blasts all over the country, Sri Lankan authorities heightened security measures due to which Luthfee turned himself in. Foreigners living in Lanka were requested to register at the closest police station and illegal immigrants were deported, leaving Luthfee with no other choice but to seek protection at the embassy. He turned himself in after nine years of living illegally in Sri Lanka.