The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has dismissed former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s claims of missing weapons from the state armoury.
Nazim, currently standing trial for smuggling illegal weapons, claimed an MNDF Special Protection Group (SPG) officer lost a 9mm Browning pistol at Shangri-La resort in 2014.
The police had discovered a pistol of the same make and three bullets in a bedside drawer in the then-defence minister’s apartment during a midnight raid on January 18.
Nazim has since claimed rogue police officers planted the weapons at his home on Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb’s orders.
He has requested the Criminal Court to summon MNDF Corporal Ahmed Amir to prove a pistol was lost, and Head of Military Police Abdulla Zuhuree to prove an investigation was carried out over the incident.
However, in a statement today, the MNDF said the former defence minister’s claims were false: “We would like to assure the people of Maldives that the MNDF’s weapons inventory is up to date and no weapon is missing.”
If found guilty of smuggling weapons, Nazim faces a jail term of ten years.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb meanwhile said he was “shocked” by the defence team’s “lies.”
Adeeb said he regretted that the trial was becoming “politicised” and suggested that the ex-colonel’s lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, and not Nazim himself was responsible for the allegations.
Hameed did not have any experience in criminal defence, Adeeb said, suggesting that he might bear a grudge for not being appointed Prosecutor General last year.
In July 2014, parliament approved Muhthaz Muhsin as PG after PPM MPs decided to endorse the former Criminal Court judge despite the party’s leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, urging ruling party MPs to vote for his nephew Maumoon Hameed.
The police have also dismissed allegations of framing Nazim.
Speaking in court on March 7, Hameed said the basis of the defence was that the evidence against Nazim was “fabricated” in order to “frame” him, alleging that Adeeb – also deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – had planned and orchestrated the setup.
Adeeb had threatened to “destroy” Nazim in a conference call with both the defence minister and home minister, Hameed said.
The threat came after Nazim lodged a complaint with President Abdulla Yameen alleging Adeeb had ordered police’s SWAT team to chop down all of Malé City’s Areca palms in October.
Home Minister Naseer has declined to comment on the threat.
Hameed told the press last week that a police forensic report shared with defence lawyers stated that fingerprints lifted from the weapon did not match either Nazim or any of his family members.
State prosecutors have also submitted documents on a pen drive allegedly confiscated along with the weapons to prove Nazim had the “motive and character” to use the weapons.
The plans indicated the former defence minister was planning to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Adeeb and Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed, prosecutors said.
Defence lawyers yesterday named President Yameen, Commissioner Waheed, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam, Home Minister Naseer and several senior ranking police and military officers as witnesses to prove charges were fabricated in a conspiracy engineered by Adeeb.
The Criminal Court adjourned the hearing stating the court would decide whether to summon defence witnesses only if they appear to negate the prosecution’s evidence.
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