K. Male'
07 Oct 2020 | Wed 13:28
October 7 marks seven years since the brutal attack
October 7 marks seven years since the brutal attack
RaajjeTV arson attack
RaajjeTV still seeking justice for 2013 arson attack
The station requested a review of the case in November last year, and still awaiting a response
The costs of damages reaches MVR 11.6 million
RaajjeTV’s studio, located in Queen of the Night building, was set on fire by 4:42 am on October 8

The most ruthless attack on a media institution in Maldives history is undoubtedly the 2013 arson attack on privately-run RaajjeTV.

While October 7 marks seven years since the brutal attack, the station is yet to receive justice.

While it was amid the controversial 2013 presidential elections, RaajjeTV’s journalists left the station way past midnight after covering the opposition protest on October 7. Some journalists stayed back at Aifaanu Building where the newsroom was located.

The studio, located in Queen of the Night building, was set on fire by 4:42 am on October 8.

The studio, located in Queen of the Night building, was set on fire by 4:42 am on October 8. Photo: RaajjeTV

The station shared CCTV footage of the attack, which shows five masked men breaking into the studio and using gasoline to set it on fire. All broadcast equipment, transmission equipment, and computer systems at the studio were completely destroyed in the fire; the costs of damages reaches MVR 11.6 million.

The assailants also stabbed a security guard, to enter the building.

RaajjeTV has been subject to multiple threats since establishment in December 2010. While it was the same prior to the arson, RaajjeTV had informed the police of a possible attack on the station after receiving credible information. However, no action was taken over this.

RaajjeTV believes that the attack could have been avoided, had police had taken the required measures.

The station believes that police had been negligent in the case. Photo: RaajjeTV

In order to seek justice, RaajjeTV filed a case at the Civil Court. While the case was rejected, the matter was filed at the National Integrity Commission (NIC) as well.

Amid this work, former President Abdulla Yameen’s administration introduced an anti-defamation law in 2016 which was also used to target RaajjeTV, giving the station more assurance that it did not stand a chance at receiving justice during his tenure.

When a new government took over in November 2018, there was renewed hope.

As such, RaajjeTV had sought a meeting with then-Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham and asked her to review the case. While she had spoken encouragingly, there was no progress in the case by the time she resigned a year later.

While then station later learnt that police had evidence that then-senior government officials were involved in the attack, RaajjeTV has requested an update in the police investigation on 1 November 2019.

Police did not respond to the request, and RaajjeTV sent a second letter on 16 February 2020. Responding to this, police said that the case was forwarded for prosecution on 7 January 2015 and added that its “court trial is ongoing”.

While it is true that a couple of ‘gang members’ have been charged over the attack, police have not revealed those behind the arson.

However, Al Jazeera in its 2015 documentary “Stealing Paradise” indicated that then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and then-Police Chief Hussain Waheed had a hand in the attack.

According to text messages obtained by Al Jazeera, Adeeb is to have sent a text saying “blast it again” on 28th August 2014, to Waheed, who is to have responded “no I guess better to control sponsors”; RaajjeTV depends on sponsors for everything including employee salaries.

Adeeb’s response, “hehehe. Ok give me the list.”

Text messages between Ahmed Adeeb and Hussain Waheed. Photo: Al Jazeera

Further, Yameen’s former ally and Dhiggaru constituency MP Ahmed Nazim claimed that the former president had received a text from Adeeb saying “mission accomplished,” on the night to the arson attack.

Nazim said that he was not aware of what the message was referring to, but that he was able to link the two after learning of the attack on RaajjeTV.

This was part of Nazim’s statement to the presidential inquiry commission on murders and enforced disappearances.

While RaajjeTV requested a review of the case on 15 December 2019, it is yet to receive a response from the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Last updated at: 1 year ago
Reviewed by: Simaha Naseem