Raudha Athif, a 21-year-old Maldives medical student, died on March 29 at her hostel room at Islami Bank Medical College in Bangladesh.
To clear up speculations regarding her death, the Maldives Police Service on Tuesday gave a press conference, in which they disclosed the most relevant new information gained by the Maldives police team that travelled to Rajshahi, Bangladesh.
Maldives police team in Bangladesh
At the conference at Iskandar station, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Riyaz (Head of Crime Investigation Command) said they have been observing Raudha’s case since her death, and on April 2 police officers left for Bangladesh due to concerns addressed by her family.
The officers arrived in the capital Dhaka and met with the Maldives delegation there and then met with Raudha’s family. Afterwards, they met officers of the Bangladeshi detective branch and shared the family’s concerns with them.
The Bangladeshi police officers and relevant authorities had given their full support in the investigation of the Maldives police team, said Riyaz.
On April 3, the team went to the medical college to talk with Maldivian students, Raudha’s friends, and the college administration.
Riyaz said the Maldives police team had received all the information on Raudha’s death from the college. The team had looked through the backup CCTV footage at the college. Some of the footage were sketchy and the cameras in some areas had stopped recording from February 25 onwards.
The medical college, college hospital, and the hostel where Raudha lived are all in the same locale, noted Riyaz.
The police team found that Raudha visited the doctor on March 28, the night before her death. She had gone alone but met with her college friend Seerat Parveen in the hospital. Parveen had left the hospital before Raudha, and Parveen also entered the hostel before her.
A Maldivian student had seen Raudha enter her room, which is adjoined by two rooms which are also occupied by Maldivian students. On that same night, Raudha had visited a Maldivian student to get a laptop.
“The last person to have seen Raudha before her death is a Maldivian student,” said Riyaz.
After interviewing the students, the Maldives police team visited Raudha’s room. Looking from the outside, the team found that there was no damage to the door, which is the only way to enter the room. The two windows were bolted with metal bars.
Riyaz said Raudha’s room had a double door with a sliding latch facing upward on each side, which means that it can be securely locked from the inside. However, if the latch isn’t secured by turning it to the side, it could loosen and unlock if someone bangs on the door hard enough.
The inside of the room could be seen through the middle of the double door, which has a 2-3 milliliter opening.
There was a crack on the bed, and the mirror of the cupboard was broken. Upon further investigation, the police team found that the furniture had been in that state before her death.
Riyaz said there was no evidence to support that any assault or violence occurred in the room.
Riyaz said Seerat Parveen was the first to see Raudha hanged, but numerous people including students, security personnel, and college officials helped try to get her loose.
Interviewed students have said that Parveen was behind the people trying to free Raudha, and that the scarf was cut off by one student climbing on the bed while another student held Raudha by the leg.
Addressing claims that Raudha’s Instagram account was used to unfollow someone after her death, Riyaz said people had tried to change focus on Raudha’s death, and that they have also investigated the claim that Parveen had unfollowed Raudha after her death.
“At the time Parveen’s phone was in police custody, and the police have looked through Parveen’s account and found that she did not unfollow Raudha,”
Raudha had used a Maldivian student’s laptop and gave it back on the night of her death, because her own laptop was with another Maldivian student in another hostel, said Riyaz, citing students.
Riyaz said the police unlocked Raudha’s phone with the help of one of her friends.
Raudha had told her friend the password when the phone locked while the friend was using it to find recipes online.
Riyaz said they have compiled numerous relevant data from Raudha’s phone, and that they have taken a statement from someone in Maldives who has a connection with her.
Riyaz said he could not go into detail, as it contained personal information and because the case is ongoing.
He also did not disclose the paperwork they received of Raudha’s visit to the doctor.
“We have received a lot of information. It cannot be disclosed to the media out of respect to the deceased. But they are relevant to the investigation. The information have been handed over to the Bangladeshi investigation team,”
Riyaz explained there was no marks on her other than the mark on her neck, and that what had appeared to have been marks of manual strangulation was actually caused by the fabric of the two scarves which were knotted together for the hanging.
Riyaz said that their investigation has not found any evidence to support the claim that there was anything unusual regarding her death.