Maldives Police Service on Wednesday announced the Prosecutor General (PG) Office's decision to charge eight officers implicated over a Drug Enforcement Department (DED) operation conducted in July 2019, in which the officers in question "manhandled" and tortured an expatriate suspect.
A Police Spokesperson revealed that the institution had requested the PG office to press charges against 11 officers for their involvement in the case, but that the PG Office had decided to charge only eight of the officers. The case was forwarded to the PG on August 31, 2019.
However, the status and details of the charges remain unclear.
Previously, the Commissioner of Police Mohamed Hameed had noted that the officers in question were subject to an internal investigation by the Police Professional Standards Committee. He added at the time that the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and the National Integrity Commission (NIC) independent investigations were also investigating the matter.
According to the police, a special investigative team was put together to probe into the matter, without the involvement of its Crime Command, to which some of the officers were part of.
Although Police's Disciplinary Board decided to demote and transfer the involved officers into other departments, this decision was later appealed, citing the disciplinary action as too lenient. However, the officers still remain employed.
The incidence came into public scrutiny following video footage that showed plain-clothed officers inflicting multiple blows on the 36-year-old Bangladeshi suspect, including kicks and jabs even after the individual was thrown down and pinned to the ground.
As can be seen in the leaked video, the suspect did not exhibit any sign of retaliation and was compliant to the officers' orders. Further, an officer was seen smashing a concrete block on the man's left wrist, presumably in an attempt to destroy his wristwatch.
The incident sparked major public outrage, demanding reform and highlighting the notorious culture of police misconduct and impunity within the police forces that have continued on for decades.