Convicted ex-defence minister returns after treatment

Convicted ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim returned to Malé today after seeking medical treatment in Singapore.

Officers of the Maldives Correctional Service (MCS) took Nazim into custody as soon as his plane landed around 11:50am. He was taken back to the low-security ‘Asseyri’ jail in Himmafushi.

The retired colonel was found guilty of smuggling weapons and sentenced to 11 years in prison on March 26. Nazim maintains that police planted a pistol in his apartment on the orders of tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, an allegation that Adeeb denies.

Nazim left for Singapore on April 10 after the MCS authorised a 45-day medical leave based on a doctor’s recommendation for Nazim to undergo tests unavailable in the Maldives.

Speaking to the press at the airport, Nazim’s brother, Adam Azim, said the MCS had not allowed family members a chance to see Nazim at the airport.

“A lot of his family are here to just see him today at his arrival, but that chance has been taken away from us,” he said.

Azim also said the trip proved costly as Nazim was only allowed to go to Singapore where medical costs are high.

Former attorney general Husnu Suood has meanwhile been appointed Nazim’s new lawyer after his previous attorney Maumoon Hameed took a one-month leave of absence to travel overseas.

“I remain utterly convinced that Col Nazim is innocent of the charges against him, that he was framed, and that he was the subject of a wrongful prosecution,” Maumoon Hameed said in a tweet today.

Suood told Minivan News that a preliminary hearing of Nazim’s appeal at the High Court is due to take place this week. The appeal was filed two weeks ago.

The hearing was postponed due to the change in attorney, he said.

Azim meanwhile expressed hope that Nazim will receive a fair hearing at the High Court appeal process. If the government does not unduly influence proceedings, Azim said the family hopes Nazim will be exonerated and freed from custody.

“Unlike at the criminal court, we hope that the procedures at the High Court will be fair and just,” he said.

“It is believed internationally and domestically that he is innocent, if the trial proceeds justly, we are a 100 percent sure that Colonel Nazim will walk out a free man that will go on to serve the people.”

Nazim’s family had previously said “there is no hope for a fair trial” due to a “notoriously politicised judiciary,” and said Nazim had “fallen foul of a political conspiracy, one in which powerful forces within the government have sought to destroy him and prevent him from challenging the leadership of the ruling party.”