Fifteen suspected drug kingpins loose, President reveals

Some 15 suspected drug kingpins arrested on charges of drug trafficking are loose in society and “there’s no way to even know when they will face trial,” President Mohamed Nasheed revealed in his weekly radio address on Friday.

Speaking from Dhidhoo in Haa Alif Atoll during a tour of Thiladhunmathi, President Nasheed expressed concern with suspects in high-profile cases released from detention while they were awaiting trial.

“Since the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) can only press charges after the investigation is complete, a long period [spent on investigation] provides the opportunity to influence witnesses, change their testimony and produce false testimony,” he explained.

Among other main challenges for securing convictions, said Nasheed, “it is also a problem when scientific and other kinds of evidence has no weight due to the absence of rules or guidelines to assess evidence presented to trial and the crime is not proven in major cases.”

Moreover, he continued, suspects arrested with large amounts of cash were not required to account for the money while Criminal Court judges often issued inconsistent rulings in similar cases.

As drug-related cases are heard only by the Criminal Court in Male’, Nasheed observed that a large backlog of cases was pending and “[suspects] have the opportunity to repeat the offence until the trial date”.

He added that it was important to amend the law to allow island courts to try local drug dealers.

The Criminal Court meanwhile issued a two-page press release the day after the President’s remarks dismissing criticism of the courts as having “no legal weight” and stating that “trying to shift the blame to another every time you are faced with something is not responsible.”

The constitution assured all citizens the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, the Criminal Court statement noted, “therefore all should believe that everyone brought before the court on suspicion of committing a crime cannot be detained and that everyone who faces criminal charges cannot be found guilty.”

The court also noted that lower court rulings, court orders and verdicts could be appealed at the High Court.

“The court does not consider the seriousness of the allegations against a person,” it reads. “The court considers the evidence presented against the person. Submitting evidence is not something the court does. What the court does is assess and weigh the evidence presented.”

The Criminal Court referred to article 49 of the constitution, which states that, “No person shall be detained in custody prior to sentencing, unless the danger of the accused absconding or not appearing at trial, the protection of the public, or potential interference with witnesses or evidence dictate otherwise. The release may be subject to conditions of bail or other assurances to appear as required by the court.”

The court also reiterated a recurring complaint that according to court records a number of suspects brought before the court had previously been sentenced to long jail terms and “no authority of the state could prove that even one of these people had been released to society on a Criminal Court order.”

Top six

Speaking to islanders of Dhevvadhoo on May 2, 2009, President Nasheed said that the identities of the top six drug dealers in the country were known to the government.

However, he added that the arrests would be viewed as politically-motivated because they included members of the opposition. Nasheed’s remarks were made a week before the parliamentary elections.

Press secretary Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News at the time that arresting the six would effectively stop the supply of narcotics into the Maldives.

Of the six, who were responsible for “budgeting, importing and distributing” drugs, some had fled the country, he said, and Interpol had been notified.

Meanwhile, according to police statistics, the number of reported drug-related cases declined in 2010 from 2,484 in 2008 and 2,366 in 2009 to 1,618 last year. The Drug Enforcement Department (DED) investigated and forwarded 844 cases for prosecution.

However overall conviction rates were low – of the 17,854 cases closed in 2010, 3323 were sent to the PGO. Of these, 1108 were sent back and 776 ended in convictions. Only 75 convictions were recorded from cases begun in 2010.


10 thoughts on “Fifteen suspected drug kingpins loose, President reveals”

  1. Now, this is politics.. The judiciary is a remnant of the previous regime. The previous regime, divided in to two parties, DRP and 2PM, have a single goal. That is, show to the public that this government is ineffective, don’t know anything.. Their approach to prove this is; crash the economy, crash the judiciary, crash the public services crash everything… the DRP and 2PM does everything in their power to increase public spending.. starting from the MP’s salary to the brand new decentralization law, government finance law and all are designed to punch a big hole in the state coffers. On the other side, taxing the public is being prevented. DRP has started a campaign against tar while the 2PM announced the mother of all demonstrations to be held this month. The judiciary is doing their part of the mission. Let loose murderers, rapists, thieves everybody, so they will create havoc in the community.. Public will say this government cannot do anything.

  2. This is a complete failure of Judiciary. Yet if some one criticize them they go on defense.

  3. Both are to blame here. The Police and the Prosecutor General has had no knowledge or experience of how things work in a democracy.
    In most other countries the Police and the Prosecuting Attorney work very closely and together after an arrest has been made. This ensures that Police finds and keeps the evidence required to get a conviction. Unfortunately in Maldives were are still operating on the old basis that if Police arrests a person he is guilty.

    If the Police and the Prosecution gets the required evidence and if the still the courts release these people then we can shame and humiliate these judges publicly. Unfortunately by not working with a prosecuting attorney The Police is letting these judges get away with these things.

  4. @Manik - The PG is an extremely capable man.

    The problem lies in cultural attitudes. The assumption of guilt from the moment of accusation is a cultural norm rather than a matter of personal opinion.

    That's why slander is especially dangerous in this country.

  5. Drug trafficking in this tiny island country was introduced and carefully developed by His Excellency Gayyoom who studied a unique kind of PRESIDENCY as a major subject at Al-Azhar University of Egypt where Ex-President of Egypt Hunsi Mubarak ruled and tortured its own people for ages

  6. What evidence do you have aside from media reports that Honsi Mubarak "ruled" and "tortured" his people?

    Have you had personal experience of his rule? Media reports claim that Qayyoom "ruled and tortured" his people for 30 years. However, I who have lived during those 3 decades of "fear" and "apprehension" have no recollection of being treated especially coarsely.

    Corruption is rampant then as it was now? - A national issue rather than due to the personal influence of a leader.

    Nepotism is seen in every corner then and now - A social and demographic reality.

    The political opposition and their families are targeted both now and then - The mode of governance in a tribal society.

  7. @its true on Sun, 2nd Oct 2011 2:49 PM

    We have separation of powers now, the threee powers Parliament, Judiciary, Executive are separate now, my dear. It was in the Gayoom days that we had a President who controlled the parliament and the judiciary. The judiciary does not report to government it is accountable to parliament. So if you do want to point fingers why our criminals are going scot free look at the judiciary and then at the parliament. The parliament has been sitting on the bills to reform the legal framework including Penal Code for two years.


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