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.”



Jailed ex-minister Nazim to travel abroad for treatment

Jailed former defense minister Mohamed Nazim has been authorised to travel overseas for medical treatment for a potentially life threatening condition.

He will be allowed to leave the country for a set period of time, a media official from the Maldives Correctional Service said.

However, the jailed politician’s family said they had not yet been told about his permission to leave.

“The family has not been officially informed of the [authorisation] to leave the country. We are working on it,” said Adam Azim, Nazim’s brother.

The family declined to reveal details of Nazim’s medical condition, but said it needs to be monitored and treated.

“We are very concerned. But the government doesn’t seem to feel any urgency at all,” he said.

Nazim was arrested and fired from the cabinet in January after police found a gun during a controversial raid on his home, and in March was handed an 11-year jail sentence for smuggling illegal weapons.

After the midnight police raid in January, officers said they had confiscated a pistol, bullets and a pen drive containing information that Nazim was plotting a coup d’etat and planning to harm the president, police commissioner and tourism minister.

Nazim says the items were planted, and the opposition has been campaigning for his release.

He requested permission to travel overseas three weeks ago after his doctor advised him to undergo some tests unavailable in the Maldives.

Nazim’s lawyers are meanwhile compiling their appeal against his sentence.

“Lawyers are working on the appeal round the clock, listening to recordings, and hoping to file by Thursday or Sunday,” said Azim.

The correctional service said Nazim’s family would need to notify them of which country he plans to travel to so that they can check it is a country approved for Maldivian prisoner visits.

No prison guards will travel with him, but the correctional service and a guardian from the family will come to an agreement under which the guardian will be responsible for the inmate.

The spokesman said that inmates are usually allotted three months for overseas treatment, but that the medical board can extend the period if treatment is taking longer.

Nazim’s family had a monthly visit with him on Monday at Humafushi jail for two hours and reported he was in “high spirits”.


Ex-defence minister’s brother urges police to disobey police chief

Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s brother last night called on Maldives Police Services to disobey unlawful orders issued by Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed.

Speaking at the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) nightly demonstrations, Adam Azim suggested Waheed was responsible for ordering brutality and unlawful actions against the public, and said individual police officers would ultimately pay the price.

“I am advising the Maldives Police Services, your leaders will make you do wrong. Areca palms will be cut. They will make you raid people’s homes. They will make you arrest people unlawfully. They will force you to be brutal towards your own people. Then Hussain Waheed and his associates will run off and hide,” he said at a first appearance at an opposition protest.

Nazim is currently under house arrest, standing trial for smuggling illegal weapons. The former defence minister claims the pistol and three bullets police discovered at his home during the January 18 raid were planted by Specialist Operations (SO) officers on the orders of Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The retired colonel was subsequently dismissed, and arrested on February 10 on additional charges of terrorism and treason. Azim, who was the Managing Director of State Trading Organization (STO), was also dismissed from his position on March 9.

Nazim said Adeeb had engineered the setup after he spoke out against police SWAT officers chopping down all of Malé City’s areca palms in October. The tourism minister has since dismissed the allegations.

State prosecutors in court last week said documents on a pen drive confiscated along with the weapons suggested Nazim was plotting to harm President Abdulla Yameen, Waheed and Adeeb with the financial backing of opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group and STO.

The MDP and former ruling coalition partner JP formed an alliance “in defence of the Constitution” at the same time as the police raid on Nazim’s home. Since the former defence minister’s arrest on February 10, the opposition has held nightly demonstrations.

MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed was arrested on February 22, swiftly brought to trial on terrorism charges and sentenced to jail on March 13. Azim first appeared at an opposition rally on Thursday night, where he praised Nasheed, and called on the government to release all “political prisoners.”

Speaking last night to a crowd of hundreds outside the Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) Kalhuthukkala Koshi (KK), Azim urged security forces to be cautious in following their superior’s orders, stating: “We know a lot of things that Hussein Waheed is responsible for.”

Azim last night also warned Waheed he would be penalised for his role in allegedly framing Nazim.

“You do not have much protection either. There will come a day when you lose your position. We will make sure of it,” he said.

“When you have status, honour and power what you are supposed to do is serve for the people with honour, pride and respect. Not brutalising your people!” he added.

Following Nazim’s arrest and trial, several key regime supporters – including MP Ahmed Mahloof and Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla – have joined the opposition under the banner “Maldivians against brutality.” Defectors have accused Adeeb of corruption, links with organised crime and gangs, and intimidation of political rivals.

Mahloof at an opposition rally on Thursday night said Adeeb bought a US$80,000 BMW and$100,000 ring for the first lady on her birthday, which he said demonstrated President Yameen encouraged embezzlement of state funds.

Adeeb, at a press conference yesterday, hit back saying Mahloof was being paid to make false allegations. The MP had also failed to pay back loans borrowed from close business associates, the tourism minister alleged.

Nazim’s family, meanwhile, requested the former defence minister be flown abroad for urgent medical care. At a hearing on Thursday, lawyer Maumoon Hameed said Nazim had a life threatening medical condition.

He was recently transferred from police custody at the Dhoonidhoo Island detention centre to house arrest for health reasons.

The former defence minister played a key role in MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation half-way through his term on February 7, 2012.

Photo by @adamadeem on Twitter 



STO head Azim dismissed from post

The government has sacked State Trading Organisation (STO) Managing Director Adam Azim, brother of former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz tweeted yesterday that the government has appointed Ahmed Shaheer, formerly head of the procurement department, to the post of managing director.

Speaking at the organisation’s 50th anniversary celebration in January – just days after Nazim’s dismissal, but prior to his arrest – President Abdulla Yameen had said that managing directors of state owned companies should not expect their jobs to be permanent if they do not perform well.

Former defence minister Nazim is accused of plotting to harm senior government officials. He is also facing illegal weapons charges after police allegedly discovered a hand gun, ammunition, an improvised explosive device, and a pen drive containing incriminating documents at his home.

Nazim has repeatedly denied the claims, accusing tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb of framing him. Nazim’s defense team has raised questions over the transparency of the trial and accused Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin of politicising the case.

Nazim’s wife Afaaf Abdul Majeed was also charged along with Nazim before the state withdrew charges on the first hearing. saying that they had found new evidence on the pen drive that proved Afaaf was not involved.


STO to pay off debts in three years

Managing Director at the State Trading Organisation (STO) Adam Azim has said the state-owned company’s debts will be paid off within three years.

Azim told Haveeru that the STO’s US$144 million (MVR1.7 billion) debt was unprecedented, and that US$51 million had been paid off during his tenure as a result of reductions in expenditure.

Immediately upon assuming office last November President Abdulla Yameen – once head of the STO – declared the company bankrupt.

In January the company announced a campaign to cut operational costs by MVR50 million (US$3,242,542) in 2014 , before posting profits of MVR44 million (US$2.8 million) in May.

The STO is the country’s primary wholesaler, responsible for bringing in the vast majority of basic foodstuffs such as rice and flour, as well as other imported commodities such as electrical goods.

Source: Haveeru


STO plans pharmacy and supermarket in Hulhumalé

The State Trading Organisation (STO) has plans to open both a pharmacy and a supermarket in Hulhumalé, local media has reported.

STO Managing Director of Adam Azim has said that a supermarket for the residents of the Malé suburb would ease the numbers of people having to travel across to the main island of the capital.

Meanwhile, Azim is also reported to have told media that a new 24 hour pharmacy will open within the next two weeks.

“This is something that is needed immediately for the people. The people of Hulhumalé have to travel all the way to Malé to buy medicine most of the time,” Miadhu quoted Azim as saying.

The artificial island of Hulhumalé has been targetted for a number of developments by the current government.

Plans have recently been finalised to double the size of the island, while President Abdulla Yameen has plans to develop a ‘youth city’ of 50,000 people, serviced by a bridge between the capital’s largest two islands.


STO aiming for record MVR500 million profit this year

The State Trading Organization (STO) is aiming to reach a record MVR500 million (US$32.4 mllion) in profits this year, the company’s Managing Director Adam Azim said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference at the company’s head office, Azim said its monthly profits have been increasing since his management took charge [in November 2013], adding that the company and its subsidiaries made MVR61 million (US$3.9 million) in profits in April

Explaining that it was the largest monthly profit since its inception, Azim said the figure was a MVR12 million (US$700,000) increase from that made in April 2013.

One of the reasons for the increasing profits is the management’s efforts to reduce spending, said Azim. Another reason for the increased profits, he explained, was because the company has now started receiving some of the approximately MVR1 billion owed by the government and other state-owned companies.

Noting hat the new management has made it a priority to ensure the prices of goods sold to the public are not increased, he said that there had been a substantial decrease in the prices of construction materials sold by the company.

STO is a public company with more than ninety two percent government shares, and was established as a state owned enterprise in 1979 .

The company’s annual general meeting for the year 2013 is set to be held tomorrow night at Traders Hotel where new board director representing shareholders will be appointed.


STO launches campaign to cut operational costs by MVR 50 million

The State Trading Organization (STO) has launched a campaign to cut operational costs by MVR 50 million in 2014 (US$ 3,242,542).

The state-owned STO is the country’s primary wholesaler, responsible for bringing in the vast majority of basic foodstuffs such as rice and flour, as well as other imported commodities such as electrical goods.

It also imports the vast majority of the Maldives’ oil, used to fuel fishing and transport vessels, diesel generators, air-conditioners and water desalination plants.

The company’s chairman Ahmed Niyaz inaugurated the “Save 50 million” and a second campaign “Saafu STO” (Clean STO) at a ceremony held in front of the company’s headquarters this morning.

The Saafu STO campaign intends to encourage cleanliness, a pleasant work environment and efficient resource utilization, STO’s media official Ismail Sodiq told Minivan News.

Speaking at the ceremony STO’s new managing director Adam Azim called on staff to be ethical in using the company’s resources.

“It is my wish that everyone is loyal to STO, and be ethical in using STO’s resources. A place without ethics does not have progress or life. If we are ethical, it is not 50 million that we save, I am certain we can save more than 100 million in 2014,” he said.

“Our Maldives is very dirty. And STO has become very dirty. So we all have to unite and bring out the new STO culture to the streets. From the streets we will take [the culture] to the houses and be more determined to clean things up,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed said all businesses must take STO’s new campaigns as examples.

In November, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom said STO is bankrupt.

“Not only does STO not have dollars, it does not have Maldivian Rufiyaa either. Funding the oil import through STO is now a burden for the state,” he said.

“I checked today where STO is now. By the time I left STO, the company had developed many commercial projects and STO was making MVR 154 million in profit. Today, STO is bankrupt. I am telling you, it is bankrupt. STO does not have money,” said Yameen, who chaired the organisation during the rule of his half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.