Court grants 15-day extension to remand period of 19 Bodufinolhu workers

Police in B. Bodufinolhu on July 3, 2020. (Photo/Maldives Police Service)

The Criminal Court has extended the remand period of 19 migrant workers arrested in the wake of a violent strike in B. Bodufinolhu.

The police, in a statement, said the workers were presented in front of the Criminal Court for their second remand hearing on Saturday, and that the court has granted the police an additional 15 days to keep the workers detained for the investigation in a detention facility determined by the Home Affairs Ministry.

The 19 migrant workers were arrested from Bodufinolhu, an island under development as a tourist resort, on July 3, a day after disgruntled migrant workers staged a violent strike over months of unpaid wages, during which they destroyed property and held local workers hostage.

One of the hostages was rescued by police after he escaped the hostage-takers and jumped into the lagoon between Bodufinolhu and neighboring B. Thulhaadhoo on July 2, while the other 12 hostages were rescued by a team of police officers led by the Specialist Operations Department that was deployed from the capital, Male’ City, in the early hours of July 3.

The workers had been presented for their first remand hearing in front of the B. Eydhafushi Magistrate Court on July 4.

The extension to the remand period of the 19 workers comes after their legal representatives issued a statement alleging the unrest had been preceded by threats against the workers in Bodufinolhu from Seal Maldives, project’s developer.

The legal representatives said the 19 workers have accused three officials from Seal Maldives of attempting to terrorize the workers using gangs, threatening to deport them without paying their wages, threatening to attack them, threatening to decapitate them and render their wives and children destitute.

They said the threats had turned Bodufinolhu into a battle field, forcing the workers to take action to defend themselves.

They have asked that the Prosecutor General initiate a petition to review the detention order against the 19 migrant workers, and conduct a separate investigation into the allegation the police included false information in the form they submitted to the B. Eydhafushi Magistrate Court requesting an extension to the remand period.

They have also asked the Prosecutor General to use his authority to order an investigation into the issues identified in a preliminary report drafted by the legal representatives based on the information collected from the workers.