In Response to Media Reports on the Release of MNDF and Police Officers Arrested on Suspicion of Dealing Counterfeit US Dollar Notes

The following statement is in response to recent media reports which claimed that the two officers of the Maldives National Defense Force and the Maldives Police Service arrested on suspicion of selling counterfeit notes of US Dollars were released because the Magistrate Court of Fonadhoo of Laamu failed to open.

Following Circular No. 13-B/CIR/2016/11 (22 September 2016) of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury which prompted Government offices to organize their work within the official working hours and limit overtime, the Judiciary too, as a cost cutting measure, decided to follow suit and tremendous efforts are being made to organize the functions of the courts and the administrative departments of the Judiciary within the official working hours of the state.

Nonetheless, remand hearings and issuing of search and arrest warrants were being conducted under a specific schedule. As such the schedule drawn up for the month of December has been shared with South Central Police Division along with information on the arrangements made to open the courts on non-working days, judges presiding over remand hearings, support staff designated for administrative work as well as their contact numbers. In addition, police were informed on the arrangements made to issue search and arrest warrants at any time as specified in the procedures.

The Maldives Police Service had in similar circumstances before, contacted the courts to arrange for numerous remand hearings. However, in the case of the incident at the Magistrate Court of Laamu Fonadhoo, we note that the Maldives Police Service had neither contacted any staff involved in the process, to request a remand hearing, nor did they contact anyone seeking information on the arrangements made for the process to be carried out.

Given the facts surrounding the incident at Laamu Fonadhoo Court, we condemn media reports which insinuated that the officers of MNDF and the police arrested on charges of dealing in counterfeit dollar notes were released as a result of the dereliction of duty of the courts, as a baseless distortion of facts in an attempt to vilify the Judiciary.

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