High Court overturns acquittal of accused drug smugglers

The High Court has today overturned the Criminal Court’s acquittal of two men accused of smuggling more than a kilo of drugs and sentenced the pair to life imprisonment.

In 2011, the Criminal Court had found Abdul Latheef Mohamed, from the Daily Blue house in Fuvahmulah, and Hassan Ali, from special registry number 3033, not guilty of drug smuggling charges.

Police arrested the pair in December 2010 during a joint operation with the Maldives Customs Service after discovering 1083.4246 grams of cannabis in a box in the trunk of Latheef’s car near the T-jetty in Malé.

The lower court had ruled that state prosecutors were unable to prove that the accused were aware that the box contained illicit narcotics.

In the judgment (Dhivehi) delivered by a panel of three judges – including Chief Judge Abdulla Hameed – the High Court ruled that the pair must bear responsibility for being in possession of the drugs as they had loaded the box into the car voluntarily.

While the drugs were smuggled from India, the High Court noted that Latheef had received a text message from an Indian number before he collected the package.

The text message said ‘1 2 3’ and the same digits were written on the box, the High Court noted. Moreover, evidence submitted by the prosecution showed that the pair had called the suspected Indian supplier on numerous occasions after the drugs arrived in the Maldives.

In March 2011, the High Court invalidated a letter by the Criminal Court ordering police to transfer Latheef to house arrest.