Azima’s law firm drops Nazim’s case

Former Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor has dropped former defence minister Mohamed Nazim’s case, say media reports

According to a press statement from Azima’s law firm Avant-Garde, the firm decided to drop the case for “personal reasons”.

Nazim is facing charges relating to possession of dangerous weapons after police raided his home on January 18.

The statement also said that Nazim’s case from now onwards will be handled by Maumoon Hameed – nephew of President Abdulla Yameen.

Previously Avant-Garde has stated that Nazim did not commit any act in violation of the law and that “he would like to assure everyone that he would not do anything in violation of the law in the future”.

State TV broadcaster MBC reported that Azima’s law firm had, earlier today, confirmed that the department of immigration is holding his passport.


Dismissed Defence Minister’ passport held by authorities

The passport of former defence minister Mohamed Nazim has been held by the department of immigration and emigration through a Criminal Court order, say media reports.

State TV broadcaster MBC reported that Nazim’s legal team had confirmed immigration is holding the passport.

Nazim – who was also acting health minister and head of immigration – was dismissed from his post on January 20, three days after police raided his apartment in the Galolhu ward under a court warrant.

Speaking to the media on the day of his dismissal, Nazim said that recent events had shown that no Maldivian was assured of safety and security.

Minivan News contacted department of immigration’s spokesman Hassan Khaleel who stated that travel plans of individuals cannot be revealed and so refused to provide confirmation regarding reports that Nazim’s passport has been held.

Nazim himself refused to comment on the matter, referring Minivan News to his lawyer Azima Shukoor who was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

Criminal Court Spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Manik said the relevant authorities will receive such court orders and that he is unable to confirm anything more.

Following Nazim’s dismissal Maldives Police Services (MPS) told the press that they had found dangerous weapons at Nazim’s house during the search, though they denied knowing it was Nazim’s home before the raid.

“Nazim and some of his family members were questioned regarding the weapons but they failed to adequately respond to the questions,” said Spokesman for Commissioner of Police Ahmed Shifan.

Meanwhile on January 22 Nazim’s legal team published a statement stating that he did not commit any act in violation of the law and that “he would like to assure everyone that he would not do anything in violation of the law in the future.”

Immigration are also currently holding the passport of former Deputy Speaker of the Majlis and Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ahmed Nazim though police have not revealed the details of the investigation.

Related to this story

Nazim dismissed as defence minister, replaced by Moosa Ali Jaleel

Dangerous weapons found in Nazim’s house during raid, say Police

Police raid Defence Minister Nazim’s home in early hours

Opposition condemns Defense Minister Nazim’s apartment raid


Former Attorney General and Gender Minister appointed to Judicial Service Commission

Attorney General Aishath Azima Shakoor was appointed to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) yesterday (July 2) by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, reports local media.

The JSC appointment was made hours after parliament rejected Shakoor’s appointment as Minister of Gender, Family, and Human Rights, according to local media.

Shakoor was reappointed to the post of Attorney General Monday (July 1), a post she previously held before serving as acting Gender Minister.


Tensions escalate as government accuse MDP, Raajje TV of “inciting hatred and violence against police”

Following the murder of Lance Corporal Ahmed Haleem on Sunday, the government has said deposed President Mohamed Nasheed, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and the opposition aligned Raajje TV are responsible for attacks on police, and have pledged to summon Nasheed for questioning over charges of inciting hatred and violence against police.

Superintendent of police Mohamed Riyaz at a press conference this evening publicised an audio conversation held between MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi and Nasheed on May 29, in which Nasheed allegedly told Mariya to find people to fight the police. Riyaz said the police would obtain a court order to summon Nasheed for questioning within the week.

A few hours later, former Deputy Home Minister Hassan Mahir was arrested under a court warrant on charges of inciting violence against the police during a speech given at the MDP’s protest camp at Usfasgandu.

Meanwhile, in a separate joint press conference held at noon at Iskandhar Koshi today, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel and Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz said Raajje TV had spread “baseless allegations” about police brutality and the police role in the controversial change of government on February 7, thereby inciting and encouraging violence against the police and their families. Further, deposed President Nasheed was directly responsible for planning and inciting violent attacks on police, Abdulla Riyaz said.

Nasheed had resigned from office on February 7, but later claimed he was ousted in a coup d’état, planned by the remnants of the former dictatorship, funded by resort interests, and carried out by mutinous elements of the police and military. The MDP has since held regular protests calling for early elections.

Attorney General Azima Shukoor has also told state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) that the government will take action against the Elections Commission and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) for respectively failing to discipline Raajje TV and the MDP, claiming the two bodies must be held responsible for encouraging attacks on police and the death of Haleem.

Police have arrested Mohamed Samaah, 22, over Haleem’s death, but have declined to give any further details. The MDP have said Samaah belonged to government coalition member and former President of 30 years Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

Nasheed- Mariya conversation

Nasheed and Mariya’s leaked audio conversation appears to have been held during the police’s attempt to dismantle the MDP’s protest camp at Usfasgandu on May 29. Police had obtained a search warrant claiming MDP was performing black magic, conducting criminal activity and damaging public property in the area.

In the audio clip, Mariya says: “[Police] are forcing people back! They are using pepper spray! That is why we are unable to hold a national council meeting. And we have also received a second letter, ordering us to vacate the area by ten o’clock tonight. We cannot file an appeal at court or do anything. We cannot even hold the National Council meeting. We won’t have [enough members for] quorum. Shihab is here. But they are using pepper spray and forcing people back. Can only vacate the place if we could only get in there. This is all very unjust. What shall I do?”

Nasheed then replies, “There’s not much we can do. I don’t know. What is there to do? I think [we] need to get people out to fight if we can get them. If we can get people to fight, get them out. It’s very clear to me, I think we need to fight back. If we can get people to fight. Find kids from Male to fight the police,” Mariya laughs at this point, but Nasheed continues, “That is what I think. I don’t know if we can get people to fight. I want to fight against them.”

Amnesty International released a statement on June 11, alleging the police had used excessive force against protesters on May 29, by pepper spraying, beating and arresting peaceful protesters, bystanders and journalists. Police denied the allegations.

Superintendent of Police Mohamed Riyaz today said the police had decided to publicize the audio conversation “because we have no other choice.”

Riyaz said Mariya had been summoned for questioning over the audio clip on June 20, but the MDP had spread baseless allegations that the police were arresting and harrassing opposition politicians for no apparent reason. Hence, “the time has come to reveal the truth,” Riyaz said.

The audio clip was obtained legally through a court warrant, he added.

At approximately 9:00 pm this evening, former deputy Home Minister Hassan Mahir was arrested for comments made at Usfasgandu, in which he had allegedly incited violence against the police. Video footage of February 7 shows Mahir being attacked by men in civilians as police in riot gear watch outside the Police HQ and another man screams, “Kill him!”

The MDP has consistently raised concerns over new President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s failure to prosecute the police for brutality on February 7, 8 and at subsequent MDP demonstrations.

“Enemies of the state”

Speaking at a press conference at noon, Home Minister Jameel and Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz condemned MDP and Rajje TV’s alleged incitement of hatred and violence against police and their families.

Jameel described MDP and Raajje TV as “enemies of the state,” while Riyaz said Nasheed and senior MDP officials were behind the planning of psychological and physical attacks on the police.

“I note that former President Mohamed Nasheed is behind the planning of the attacks and damage caused to police property and repeated physical attacks on police officers.” Riyaz said.

Claiming Raajje TV’s reporting was “not responsible journalism,” Riyaz said that the station had spread baseless allegations regarding police brutality towards protesters and police role in the controversial change of government.

“Raajje TV has repeatedly attempted to defame and raise questions over police professionalism by broadcasting baseless allegations to create distrust towards the police,” he added.

He went on to refute a recent Raajje TV report that police had stolen fuel from parked motor cycles, claiming Raajje TV was attempting to falsely cast the entire police force as “brutal” and as “thieves.”

Earlier in the day, the Police released a satement saying they  will no longer cooperate with Raajje TV or provide protection to the station due to its attempts to defame the institution. The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) subsequently told Raajje TV to issue an apology for the report on police officers stealing petrol.

Conversely, Raajje TV has also accused police of targeting, assaulting and harrasing its reporters during MDP’s protests.

A statement from Raajje TV on July 10 read: “Raajje TV journalists have been forced to live in fear as they have increasingly become targets of attacks by the national security forces, particularly the police service. The station also believes that these attacks and harassment has been the source of emotional distress and psychological damage to all Raajje TV employees.”

However, Riyaz stressed today that the police force did not discriminate.  “I believe the police are professional. I am not under any political influence,” he added

During MDP’s protest on February 8, 64 policemen had been injured while police stations had sustained over Rf 130,000 (US$ 8387) worth damages, Riyaz said. It was Raajje TV’s broadcasting of false reports that police had killed a man in Male’ that led to the vandalism and arson attacks on police stations and court buildings throughout the Maldives, Riyaz alleged.

“We will take action against whoever incites violence against the police, no matter who it is or what kind of position they hold or have held in the past,” Jameel said.

Police have already filed criminal charges against Nasheed for his alleged role in the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January and the discovery of alcohol bottles at Nasheed’s residence following his resignation. The Prosecutor General (PG) this month filed charges against Nasheed at the Hulhumale’ Island Court over Abdulla’s detention, but the court has rejected the case claiming the case was outside its “jurisdiction.”

The Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon and the UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay have expressed concern over the state’s attempt to prosecute Nasheed.

Complaints against EC, MBC

Attorney General Azima Shukoor, speaking on TVM’s Raajje Miadhu programme, said the Elections Commission (EC) and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) had failed to discipline Raajje TV and MDP for inciting violence despite the government filing numerous complaints.

Azima said MDP’s call for violence were “a fact. You cannot dispute this. Look at the tweets, the materials on Facebook, and the speeches at meetings and protests.”

However, the failure of independent oversight institutions to take action had put the democratic process in the Maldives in jeopardy, Azima claimed. “The country is not functioning when space is given for democracy,” she said.

“Institutions that must take responsibility are not doing their job. [We have] to take action against them. The executive will conduct necessary legal work to take such action. We will submit this case to the Majlis. We are also ready to take necessary action through the courts,” she stated.

In response, the Elections Commissioner Fuad Thawfeeq told TVM that the commission “will not yield to threats and intimidation.”

Regarding the MDP’s protests, he said: “The constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and speech. The elections commission cannot narrow such freedoms.” Thawfeeq said it was the executive’s resonsibility to investigate criminal activities.


AG denies Commonwealth pushing government to drop criminal charges against Nasheed

Attorney General (AG) Azima Shakoor has today denied reports that the Commonwealth is pressing the government to drop criminal charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Local media reported yesterday that the Commonwealth had requested that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administration assure Nasheed’s freedom, citing a government official whose identity was not divulged.

Nasheed could face prosecution over charges relating to both the alleged discovery by police of alcohol at his former residence and the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. The Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest immediately after the controversial change of government on February 7, however this was not acted upon.

Pointing to a government statement, Shakoor claimed today that there had been no discussions with the Commonwealth over dropping these charges against Nasheed. She added there would be no further comment on matter until discussions with Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon were concluded.

Mckinnon has been holding talks with several government representatives including the attorney general, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Gender Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Dr Hassan Saeed, Special Advisor to the President.

Nasheed alleged following his resignation that he had been deposed in a “coup” on February 7.

Criminal charges

Minivan News reported last month that former President Mohamed Nasheed could face separate criminal charges for his alleged role in the Maldives National Defense Force’s (MNDF) detention of Judge Abdulla and the alleged confiscation of alcohol bottles at his home.

Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz said at the time that he had expected a decision to be made by his office on whether to prosecute Nasheed by the end of April. A decision on these charges has still yet to be taken.

Muizz was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Quoting an anonymous government source yesterday, local newspaper Haveeru reported that Commonwealth representatives had shown strong concerns that Nasheed not face charges.

“They (Commonwealth) want us to assure Nasheed’s freedom without any action or charges more than they want us to hold early presidential elections,” the official told the paper.

“We informed, [the Commonwealth] that we cannot impede or influence the justice system of this country. If a crime is committed than the guilty must be duly punished and that cannot be stopped even if the government wished to do so.”

In its statement March 15, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) expressed “continued concern” that “former President Nasheed receive the freedoms and privileges due to a former head of government. CMAG urged that all political parties and their leaders should be able to participate fully and freely in future electoral processes.”

“Pure injustice”

Speaking last month after police forwarded the Nasheed charges to the PG’s Office, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy claimed that the move was “pure injustice”, representing the “broken” state of the national criminal justice system.

Fahmy contended it was ironic that Nasheed, who had worked to foster a reputation for championing human rights in the country, could now potentially face prosecution by a judiciary that he himself alleged to be guilty of several of counts of corruption.

“This is injustice. Justice is not ensured simply by a judge’s verdict on an issue, it has to be publicly accepted that it is justice,” he argued.

“For the last thirty long years, the regime [of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] tortured and suppressed the people. They systematically tortured the people. Those that were at the helm of torture and corruption are made as clean as ‘pure white cotton’ by the crippled judiciary.”


Court ends hearing on Thilafushi reclamation case

The Civil Court has concluded hearings over the Thilafushi development project, which was awarded to Heavy Load Maldives by Thilafushi Corporation Limited (TCL).

Heavy Load is owned by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik.

The ACC had previously noted the US$21 million project was not awarded with the advice of the TCL board and was in violation of the government-owned company’s operating procedures.

TCL’s lawyer Mazlan Rasheed claimed that the ACC had ordered TCL to stop the project without carrying out any investigation, Haveeru reports.

Rasheed further claimed that the ACC violated legal requirements by not issuing a formal report.

ACC’s lawyer and the former attorney general Aishath Azima Shakoor countered that TCL disobeyed the ACC’s order and continued with the project.

Shakoor added that the ACC had issued its order after finding evidence that TCL had violated the law in 10 separate counts when awarding the project to Heavy Load, therefore the ACC had been within its rights to issue the order.

Judge Abdulla Ali presided over the case. The final verdict will be released during the next court session, reports Haveeru.


Abandoned child legally assigned foster parents for first time in Maldivian history

The Family Court has assigned foster parents to a 10-month-old baby for the first time in Maldivian history. The child, who had been abandoned, was transferred from state care to a married couple on Sunday, September 18.

“This is the first time that non-biological parents have been given legal guardianship of a child in the Maldives,” said Ilham Mohamed, a local NGO worker familiar with the matter.

Mohamed said that foster parents previously risked the biological parents turning up to demand money and/or the child. “This example will make the process more secure,” she said.

The new foster parents will have the same legal rights given in adoption, except for the rights to consent to marriage and leave an inheritance.

Mohamed pointed out that in many cases where a father will not consent to his daughter’s marriage, the young couple requests and often receives court permission. She said the process usually takes between two and three months.

The couple’s lawyer, former Attorney General (AG) Aishath Azima Shakoor, told local media that the couple wanted to opt for their new daughter to inherit an equal share of their property. According to Mohamed, Maldivian law allows foster parents this option.

Shakoor recently told local media that the court had transferred the state’s legal guardianship of the child under Shari’a law to the couple, who have agreed in writing to protect and provide for the girl.

The Maldives did not provide services for abandoned children before the 1990s. Sources say that the number of abandoned children rose during that decade, possibly due to the allegedly higher rate of drug use among young adults at that time.

In 1992, the Ministry of Gender and Family established the Unit for the Rights of the Child (URC), now known as the Child and Family Protection Services (CFPS). Since then, the ministry maintains that the number of care-giving staff and institutions are unable to meet demand.

An Auditor General’s report dated 2009 reported 43 children at the state’s orphanage on Villingili, near Male. The report noted that the orphanage was understaffed and staff members were unable to provide sufficient care for children below the age of five. Most employees were not trained in child psychology, and there were no provisions for medical emergencies.

The orphanage on Male is currently over capacity and children are not segregated by age, said Mohamed.

Minivan News previously reported that Maldivian Family Law requires various next-of-kin be asked to care for abandoned children before the state assumes responsibility. But the process of identifying proper care-givers was reported long and difficult, and the Ministry of Family and Gender was regularly backed up with applications at the time.

The report also noted that adoption, as it is handled in the West, is illegal in Islam.

“Adoption in the Western style is not part of Islam,” explained Mohamed. “But fostering, or taking people into your care, is part of Islamic culture. It doesn’t really matter what name you use, foster or adopt, just so long as children have a safe place to live.”

Mohamed said she believes most orphanages have wait lists, and expects foster parenting to increase significantly.

“The couple that has been approved struggled to convince local authorities of their case. But now that this has been done once, it won’t be difficult for people to do it again.”

Mohamed noted that the struggle to legalize foster parenting began in the late 1990s, and calls the recent case a “very significant event.”