Maldives Police Service, on Thursday, confirmed that seven additional suspects were arrested over the armed hijacking of a vessel near Vadinolhu, Laamu Atoll, due to disputes in payments.
According to the police, the newly arrested suspects are all Maldivian males taken into custody under a court order.
With this development, the total number of arrests made regarding the case has climbed to 16. However, nine of them were released by the court when summoned for the remand hearings.
Police initially arrested two 25-year-olds and a single 22-year-old, regarding the takeover of the marine vessel. These hijackers, confirmed to be local, were armed with meat cleavers and other metal objects.
The vessel 'Faskuri', hijacked on Monday, was leased to Rich Club Maldives, a company owned by parliamentary representative for Kaafu Atoll's Kaashidhoo constituency MP Abdulla Jabir, for MVR 6 million on a monthly instalment basis, but had only paid MVR 600,000 over the course of the two years it was leased under the company.
Although the lawmaker denies any involvement in the matter, claiming that no boats were acquired under his name, the Gan Magistrate Court in Laamu Atoll, issued a temporary ruling against Jabir's Rich Club Maldives, ordering the transfer of the boat to its owner Idhurees Hussain.
The owner claimed that the agreement between the company became void after Rich Club Maldives failed to make consistent payments, further requesting for compensation during the period in which it was leased.
On Tuesday, Jabir filed an issue over the contentious handover of a leased vessel to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
According to a letter addressed to JSC's President Hisaan Hussain, the temporary ruling was released in violation of standard procedures on civil matters, stating that Jabir's company was unable to respond to the charges prior to the ruling.
In reference to the boat's armed hijacking, the lawmaker also noted that the agreement stipulates that ownership disputes must be resolved in a court of law.
It was further revealed that Jabir had requested Maldives Police Service to investigate the hijacking.
Police are currently conducting an investigation into the matter.