Maldives court extends remand of Sri Lankan “sniper” for the twentieth time

medium_93396The Criminal Court in the Maldives has, for the twentieth time, extended the remand of the Sri Lankan national arrested in relation to the alleged assassination attempt against President Yaameen Abdul Qayyoom, Raajje Television reported.

His remand has been extended by 15 days.

The police had earlier claimed that their investigation had revealed the “assassin” was contracted by a group of Maldivians.

While Maldivian police have said that the Sri Lankan national in custody is a “sniper”, Sri Lanka has dismissed these claims saying that the man identified as Lahiru Madushanka is a dry fish seller.

A couple of weeks ago, Muheed Jeeran, a Sri Lankan political lobbyist, had informed RaajjeMV that he had begun an international campaign to free Madushanka.

He had also described Madushanka’s prolonged imprisonment as a “travesty of justice by the Maldivian regime”.

According to Lanka’s the Sunday Times, Madushanka’s “family was in the Maldives fish business,” and his father is famously known as “Umbalakada Mudalali,” which translates to ‘Maldives fish businessman’.

The Sunday Times also noted that while Maldivian authorities had first said that a “Sri Lankan sniper” had been arrested, they had later described him only as a “Sri Lankan national.”

A few months back, Sri Lankan media reported that that Colombo was “extremely unhappy” with the conduct of the High Commissioner who had failed to inform Sri Lanka about the arrest of the man, which had been carried out on October 24.

It highlighted that Maldivian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Zahiya Zareer had “directly got in touch with the police and immigration to get a Maldivian arrested deported a few weeks back, but did not have the decency to tell (them) about the Sri Lankan in their custody.”

“Family members of the man, who did not wish to speak on record, fearing it would jeopardize attempts to have him released, said that he had gone to the Maldives in mid-October to start a dry fish business, when he was arrested,” reads one article on Sunday Times.

High Commissioner Zahiya Zareer was summoned to Sri Lankan’s External Affairs Ministry shortly after the Sri Lankan national’s arrest.

Media reports suggest Madushanka’s family has had no direct contact with him since his arrest and that the information regarding his arrest was communicated to them through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Minister has instructed Sri Lanka’s Acting High Commissioner in Male to visit Madhushanka in detention and ensure that the detainee receives proper legal assistance.

On November 15, 2015, the Sunday Times reported that President Maithripala Sirisena had proposed to speak with President Abdulla Yameen seeking the release of the 24 year old Sri Lankan citizen.

Police had also arrested three individuals for allegedly facilitating the arrival of the sniper. However, they court had released them earlier this month.

In a press conference held by the Commission of National Inquiry in March, Home Minister Umar Naseer had stressed local authorities have “strong physical evidence against the sniper”. (Colombo Gazette)

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