Convicted drug trafficker Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak has appealed his drug trafficking charges at the High Court, reports local media.
At the first hearing yesterday, Shafaz’s lawyer argued that the trial at the Criminal Court was conducted in a prejudiced and unfair manner.
The defence attorney, Aminath Shezleen, noted that the verdict did not specify the type of drugs Shafaz was accused of trafficking with reference to the appendix of the Drugs Act.
While the conviction was based on a phone call recording, Shezleen said the audio was submitted as evidence without a chain of custody report from police as required by regulations.
The state attorney, however, defended the validity of the report and noted that both sides were allowed to question experts at the trial concerning the analysis report of the phone recording, adding that Shafaz had not denied that it was his voice in the incriminating audio.
Concluding the hearing, the three-judge panel asked for submission of both the chain of custody report and the recording of the phone conversation.
The judges announced that a second hearing would be held after considering the evidence.
The Criminal Court had sentenced the 30-year-old to 18 years in prison in November 2013 and levied a fine of MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking.
In February, Shafaz was temporarily released for three months to seek medical treatment said to be unavailable in the Maldives.
However, following media reports suggesting the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) violated procedures in authorising his release, Shafaz was caught in Colombo in May and brought back to the Maldives to serve his sentence.
Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011, with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.
Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police had raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long ‘Operation Challenge’.
Jinah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.
He claimed that the network had smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.