Adeeb framed Nazim after fallout over Malé City’s Areca palms, lawyers claim

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb threatened to “destroy” former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim two months before police raided the retired colonel’s apartment and discovered a pistol and bullets, Nazim’s lawyer has alleged.

Presenting the defence’s opening statement at today’s hearing of Nazim’s trial on charges of weapons possession, Maumoon Hameed claimed Nazim had found out in October last year that Specialist Operations (SO) police officers chopped down the city council’s areca palm trees on Majeedhee Magu on orders from Adeeb.

Upon learning that the defence minister had complained to President Abdulla Yameen of the incident, Hameed claimed Adeeb called and threatened Nazim in a conference call with Home Minister Umar Naseer.

Hameed said Naseer had expressed his displeasure regarding the threats in a text message to President Yameen.

The police professional standards command subsequently discovered that money was deposited to the bank accounts of the SO SWAT team officers, Hameed claimed.

Hameed said the SO officers learned of Nazim’s objections to the president and bore animosity towards the then-defence minister, alleging that the same officers involved in chopping down the areca palm trees comprised the SWAT team that raided Nazim’s apartment in the early hours of January 18.


During the opening statement, Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf repeatedly interrupted Hameed, advised the lawyer not to mention persons not involved in the case, and asked what the allegations had to do with the charges.

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.

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.

Adeeb had also called Nazim two days before the raid and asked where he lived and how many rooms were in his apartment, Hameed continued, noting that Adeeb had previously been to the apartment for tea.

Judge Bari suggested that Adeeb could have forgotten the address.


Speaking to Minivan News today, Adeeb said he was “very shocked” to hear of the serious allegations, which he dismissed as “all lies” and “very weak”.

Adeeb said he regretted that the trial was becoming “politicised” and suggested that the ex-colonel’s lawyer and not Nazim himself was responsible for the allegations.

Nazim was a close friend, he added, and the pair had discussed official matters up until the former Defence Minister’s arrest.

Adeeb noted that Nazim did not mention any of the allegations at a press conference after his dismissal from the cabinet.

Hameed did not have any experience in criminal defence, Adeeb continued, 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.

Hurried trial

State prosecutors will present anonymous testimony by three officers involved in the raid, a crime scene report by police officer Mohamed Areef, a report on the weapons authenticity by MNDF’s Mohamed Nazeem and a confidential letter from the army stating the pistol and bullets did not belong to the state.

Confidential documents from a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s apartment will also be presented to show the former Defence Minister harbored the intent to use and was capable of using the pistol, state prosecutor Adam Arif said.

Further evidence includes a statement by Nazim in which he “admitted” the police had discovered the weapons in his presence, Arif continued.

The Prosecutor General’s Office is also awaiting analysis of DNA samples lifted from the weapons, he added.

Hameed, then contended the state had filed charges without completing a full investigation, and appealed to judges’ to dismiss the state’s case.

Noting the Constitution declares any evidence obtained unlawfully as inadmissible, Hameed once again pointed to what he called several irregularities during the police raid.

Judge Yoosuf, however, told Hameed to focus on the content of the evidence, stating the bench had taken note of the defence’s concerns.

The Criminal Court gave Nazim three days to submit evidence in his defense, and denied a request to review its decision to keep the former Defence Minister in police custody until the end of the trial.


Police tell Malé City Council removal of replanted trees was lawful

Police have informed Malé City Council that no action will be taken against the Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) in relation to the removal of trees planted by the council last week.

A letter given to the council explained that the state-owned company had acted on the orders of the housing ministry, which was the highest authority in the country for environmental matters.

Around 25 areca palm trees – donated by the Indian government in 2011 – were cut down late last month by men alleged to have been off-duty Special Operations police officers, although police have denied this.

Opposition politicians have told local media the trees had been used by the Maldivian Democratic Party – which holds a majority of seats on the council – to curse President Abdulla Yameen.

Subsequent efforts to replace the trees were stopped by the MRDC last week, before the cabinet announced it was to remove control of the city’s streets from the council’s jurisdiction.

Council members have suggested that the government is infringing on services designated to the council under the 2010 Decentralisation Act.


Newly planted areca palms uprooted on housing ministry orders

Reporting by Ismail Humaam Hamid

The Maldives Road Development Corporation (MRDC) has uprooted three newly planted areca palms in Malé today on the Housing Ministry’s orders.

The opposition dominated Malé City Council (MCC) replanted three trees this morning after masked men – believed to be police officers – chopped down 30 palm trees in the early hours of October 24.

“Today we planted three trees near the Malé City Council. However, workers from MRDC uprooted the trees moments later. They said they were acting on orders from the Housing Ministry,” Malé City Mayor Mohamed Shihab told the press today.

The police refused to help despite repeated requests, but watched the trees being removed, the mayor said.

“We requested assistance from the police as per rights afforded to local councils in the Decentralisation Act. But the police on the scene refused to help us. We have decided to lodge a complaint at the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).”

The MCC will also file a court case against MRDC for its illegal actions, the council said, arguing that the MRDC must defer to the MCC and obtain permission from the council in matters concerning Malé City.

According to newspaper Haveeru, senior members of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) believe the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) use the areca palm trees for black magic to curse President Abdulla Yameen with ill health.

“[They] believe that [President Yameen’s] health worsens with every palm frond that falls off the areca palm trees. And that his health would worsen further with every tree that blossoms,” an anonymous government official was quoted as saying.

The MDP-dominated city council had planted the palm trees – donated by the Indian High Commission – in October 2011 as part of efforts to make the capital greener.

Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged that masked Special Operations (SO) police officers in plain clothes chopped down the palm trees with machetes.

Patrolling police officers from the Maafanu police station arrested two of the perpetrators, Nasheed told the press last week, claiming that the suspects were handed over to the SO on the orders of a senior official from the SO command.

The pair were taken to the police Iskandhar Koshi barracks in an SO vehicle, he claimed.

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed held a press conference last week during which he denied police involvement in the incident, dismissing the opposition leader’s allegations as “baseless”.

Speaking to the press today, Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed accused the government of chopping down the areca palms.

“The government is involved in the chopping down of the trees. There were a lot of SO police officers in Malé that night. However, it is unclear whether they were trying to stop the vandalism or assisting in the crime,” she said.

The council said it will lodge a complaint over MRDC’s actions with the Local Government Authority, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and international organisations.

Several areca palm trees were also uprooted during protests against the MDP government in January 2012.