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“Law will catch up to criminals”: Maldives pres vows death penalty

Fathmath Shaahunaz
24 April 2017, MVT 12:57
President Yameen speaks at celebration of MNDF's 125th anniversary. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
24 April 2017, MVT 12:57

The law will catch up to criminal offenders, warned President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in reference to the brutal murder of social media activist and blogger Yameen Rasheed on Sunday.

The president made the remark Sunday night while speaking at the celebration of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF)’s 125th anniversary. He vowed that the government will not let up in its efforts to thwart criminality in the Maldives.

In his address, President Yameen noted that Yameen Rasheed, who was found dead with 14 stab wounds by the staircase of his house in the early hours of Sunday, is the first case of violent murder since the brutal killing of former Ungoofaaru MP and Islamic scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali in 2012.

The president admitted that each shocking incident has revealed the weakness and defenceless of the country for which government institutions must also make apologies.

President Yameen (C) and First Lady Fathimath arrive at celebration of MNDF's 125th anniversary. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

“But I will not point fingers at any of the institutions; they are not to blame,” he said.

President Yameen went on to admit that there are several pending or cold cases where investigations were not carried out in full or attained justice, such as the investigation into the murder of Dr Afrasheem which was still ongoing when Yameen Rasheed was killed.

Speaking of Dr Afrasheem’s murder, President Yameen highly censured some of the statements made by the former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz. He referred to Riyaz’s previous claim that there are people who know the truth behind Dr Afrasheem’s murder and that all will be revealed “when the time comes”.

“When will that time come?” questioned President Yameen. “I can’t imagine when that time will be. The best time is to share that information with investigative departments as soon as possible. But [he] apparently couldn’t bear that responsibility. Not only could [he] not bear that responsibility, but the disparagement of it falls entirely on other people. This is saddening.”

Stressing that the truth behind the murders that occur in the Maldives must be uncovered, President Yameen highlighted the disappearance of Maldives Independent’s journalist Ahmed Rilwan in 2012 and the explosion that took place aboard the presidential speedboat in 2015. He admitted that the authorities have so far failed to discern what happened to Rilwan, who has been missing for over two years after an alleged abduction, and the whole truth behind the speedboat blast, which was an assassination attempt on President Yameen and had injured First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim.

MNDF soldiers attend MNDF's 125th anniversary celebration.

However, President Yameen pronounced that he remains steadfast in doing his duty and carrying out his responsibilities, as are the ministers of his Cabinet. He slammed the opposition political leaders for their civil disobedience, challenging law enforcement, inciting political turmoil and for calling to rise up against the law. He asserted that the law will be enforced equally among all with no regards to their rank, privileges or bloodline.

President Yameen reiterated in his address that capital punishment will be implemented in the Maldives during his regime, declaring that the national situation has reached the point where death penalty is now mandatory.

He vowed that the law will catch up to all criminals, declaring that their offences will be investigated and justice served.

“That is what I have to say the citizens even today. Keep up your criticism of us on these issues. We’ll remain patient,” he said.

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