Maldives’ incumbent President Abdulla Yameen said in a campaign speech on Tuesday afternoon that missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan is ‘no doubt’ dead.
Responding to accusations of obstructing the investigation into Rilwan’s disappearance, President Yameen referred to the abducted journalist as no longer being alive and of the entire matter being a ‘sad affair’.
“The journalist, Ahmed Rilwan, is dead. No doubt about it. It is a sad affair”, Yameen said in his speech at Madaveli island of Gaafu Dhaal atoll.
A statement from former vice president Ahmed Adeeb, who is currently in prison on several criminal charges, on Tuesday details the accusation that Yameen actively worked to obstruct the investigation.
While there were existing allegations that senior government officials had a hand in Rilwan’s disappearance, including Adeeb, an Al Jazeera exposé that featured content recovered from a mobile phone that had an apparent message from President Yameen telling former Housing Minister Umar Naseer not to be ‘too overwhelmed’ with the case.
The Criminal Court on August 2nd acquitted two individuals of terrorism charges. Presiding Judge Adam Arif said there is sufficient evidence to convict the defendants, Aalif Rauf and Mohamed Nooradheen, of being ‘involved with a network of several people’ in Rilwan’s abduction.
While the court acquitted the two men, the slow-moving proceedings have been heavily criticized. Human rights activist and prominent lawyers have expressed concern about the investigation and trial, describing them as incomplete and false.
Rauf and Nooradheen were accused of forcing Rilwan into a car outside his apartment on the night of his disappearance, 8th August 2014. Efforts from his family and friends to pressure authorities into making the case a bigger priority have been suppressed.
A demonstration calling for justice in Rilwan’s disappearance and blogger Yameen Rasheed’s murder had been disbanded through force. Officers had arrested participants and confiscated signs, and used pepper spray and other riot-control tactics.
Rilwan’s brother, Moosa Rilwan, said in an interview on the day of the acquittal that they will ‘continue to seek justice, as long as it takes’.