An audio recording has been leaked of a meeting between Minster of Defence and National Security Adam Shareef and the Special Protection Group (SPG) regarding the conflict between opposition lawmakers and military soldiers last week Monday.
Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) had locked the gates to Parliament and obstructed opposition lawmakers from entering the premises on July 24, leading to a long stand-off between the parliamentarians and the military. While the opposition proclaims that MNDF, who are tasked with parliament security, had acted unlawfully in obstructing lawmakers from entering the building and forcefully removing those that broke through security barricades and entered the premises, the defence ministry and MNDF have countered that the military locked up the parliament that day to prevent actions that could compromise national security.
In the leaked audio, Defence Minister Adam Shareef is heard declaring that security forces did not break any laws in maintaining the security of Parliament on July 24 and the subsequent days. He stated that the criminal actions committed that day were by the lawmakers that forcefully broke into parliament premises and obstructed security forces from their duty.
He noted that Maldives Police Service are currently investigating the issue.
The minister notified the SPG that some officers from its division may be summoned to the investigation as witnesses. He stated that MNDF’s leadership has decided that Police and military officers summoned to investigations will be escorted by military police lawyers for their safety and protection.
Minister Shareef noted that, by law, parliamentarians have full immunity only for their words and votes inside the parliament chambers. All others actions if unlawful bear the same consequences for lawmakers as the common people, he pointed out.
Stating that the lawmakers’ actions to halt the parliament’s functioning that day could be repeated at any time, the minister said that MNDF’s leadership has decided to file the issue as a criminal case at Police.
“We looked into the best method to proceed with the matter as a case. Both the Attorney General’s Office and Prosecutor General’s Office counselled us that the fastest way would be to investigate it via Maldives Police Service and file the case. So that’s what we have decided on,” said Adam Shareef.
According to the minister, the Chief of Defence Force, Major General Ahmed Shiyam, has requested both the Ministry of Home Affairs and Commissioner of Police Ahmed Areef to expedite the case as it is concerned with safety and security of the military.
Minister Shareef went on to guarantee that MNDF’s leadership has and would never order the military to commit any unlawful actions in their duties. He stated that he usually discusses with the Attorney General as well as the Prosecutor General and, in certain cases, with the President Office’s legal affairs minister prior to issuing an order to MNDF in order to ensure that the orders will not have any negative repercussions on the military. He added that MNDF’s chief, vice chief and all other leaders are aware of the staggering consequences of issuing unlawful orders and, thus, would not do so.
Noting that the military is the most reputable and trusted institution to date in the Maldives, Minister Shareef said that certain entities and individuals are working to defame MNDF. He called on the armed forces to be focussed and forewarned for such actions.
Referring to the parliament lockup of July 24, Minister Shareef said that an esteemed and trustworthy source had reported to MNDF of a great possibility that actions, which could lead to terrorism, might be carried out inside the parliament that day. Without mentioning the name of the source, the minister said that it had been documented at the parliament administration after which MNDF had taken the necessary steps to limit access to parliament premises that day.
The minister also pointed out that there had not been any parliament sittings scheduled for that day, though the opposition lawmakers had turned up determined to hold a session. The parliament administration had also informed MNDF that no sittings were to be held from July 24 – 31.
“And so, we did not obstruct any parliament works. Taking everything into consideration, the military did not commit any unlawful actions or break any laws.”
Mihaaru was unable to reach the defence minister for comment regarding the leaked audio recording.