Former police commissioners, Abdulla Riyaz and Hussain Waheed have corroborated former Home Minister Umar Naseer's response to the allegations made against him by Home Minister Imran Abdulla regarding the extradition of 1988 coup leader Abdulla Luthufee.
Minister Imran was summoned to the parliament for questioning on Monday, where he had stated that the previous government of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom undertook several efforts to locate Luthufee after he went into hiding. However, during the final stages of locating and apprehending Luthufee, then home-minister Umar Naseer did not grant authority required to pursue the manhunt by deeming Luthufee's extradition as unimportant, alleged Imran.
Umar refuted the claims stating that he was the minister who made most efforts in the attempt to apprehend Luthufee. Noting some of the efforts he undertook as Minister in his attempt to find Luthufee, he reminded that the previous government had offered a reward of MVR 75,000 for anyone who could provide credible information on Luthufee's whereabouts, which was later increased to US$ 10,000.
He further noted that he officially met with Sri Lanka's Law and Order minister and Police Chief, and tabled Luthufee's case on agenda. A special police team was also dispatched to Sri Lanka after the government received reports that Luthufee was hiding out in Nugegoda, Sri Lanka, however, the mission was unsuccessful, revealed Umar.
Then chief of Police Ahmed Areef backed Umar's response and revealed to AVAS that Luthufee's capture was a top priority to Umar Naseer. Describing Imran's statement as blatant lies, Areef said he witnessed the amount of work Umar did to bring Luthufee back to Maldives.
EX-CPs Abdullah Riyaz and Hussain Waheed also agreed with Areef.
Current Thimarafushi MP Abdulla Riyaz tweeted that the police does not require an approval from Home Ministry to apprehend a fugitive. It is mandatory upon the police to act within the laws, he added.
Riyaz's successor Hussain Waheed took to Facebook to discredit Imran's statement, stating that there was no basis to his words. He confirmed that former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and former Home Minister Umar Naseer had worked hard in their attempt to bring Luthufee back to the country.
"During the early days of former president Abdulla Yameen' presidency, he went on an official visit to Sri Lanka where Luthufee's case was tabled, and information on Luthufee was passed to Sri Lankan authorities. A police team was also sent to Sri Lanka and information was exchanged regarding Luthufee and attempts were made to locate the fugitive", Hussain Waheed said.
"At the time Luthufee was in hiding, and it was reported that he was in disguise. The information was relayed to the Sri Lankan authorities on Umar's suggestion. I believe taking the necessary action now that a missing fugitive has re-surfaced would be most appropriate", he added.
Waheed also stated that the comments made by Minister Imran is an attempt to mislead the public and the members of the Parliament.
Assisted by armed foreign mercenaries, Luthufee led the attacks on Maldives on 3rd November 1988 that killed 19 Maldivians. Charged and convicted for treason, Luthufee received the death penalty for his crimes. However, then President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom lightened his sentence to life imprisonment.
Luthufee was allowed to travel to neighboring Sri Lanka on 16th January 2010 for medical purposes during former president Mohamed Nasheed's administration. However, he went into hiding during the trip and had been residing in Sri Lanka for the past nine years as a fugitive.
In a recent development, Luthufee voluntarily presented himself to the Maldivian Embassy in Sri Lanka on 1st May 2019, after which he has been residing at the embassy until now. Authorities did not disclose his presence at the embassy until last Monday, after rumors that the embassy was harboring Luthufee made its rounds on social media, prompting public criticism on the matter.