Government dismisses ‘slanderous’ allegation of plot to assassinate Nasheed

The government has dismissed allegations of a plot by senior officials to assassinate imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed as “slanderous.”

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said today that credible sources have informed the main opposition party and Nasheed’s family that a senior government official has recently obtained powerful anaesthetics drugs to use against the opposition leader.

“If bringing in medicine for treatment to a prison where president Nasheed is being kept is considered as intended to harm an inmate, that is a big joke,” president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News today.

The allegation is baseless and “slanderous,” he added. Muaz suggested the MDP should file cases with the relevant authorities.

Nasheed is serving a 13-year jail sentence relating to the military’s detention of a judge during his administration.

Following his transfer from police custody to a low security jail on Tuesday, Nasheed’s lawyers expressed concern with the police’s failure to inform the former president’s legal team or his family.

Former first lady Laila Ali appealed to president Abdulla Yameen for assurances of Nasheed’s safety last month, saying she had received information from credible sources of a likely attempt on his life.

Home minister Umar Naseer has previously said the government “guarantees the safety, welfare and protection of former president Mohamed Nasheed while in custody.”

Commissioner of prisons Mohamed Husham told Minivan News that a special team is in charge of ensuring Nasheed’s security, including a specially trained officer.

“If we receive information of such a threat we take action for the inmate’s safety. But some people may try to take advantage if details of such procedures are shared with the public,” he said.

The MDP claimed a senior government official obtained anaesthesia medicine, including chloroform, from an official in the health sector some days ago.

An official from the health ministry, who wished to remain anonymous, told Minivan News that anaesthetic drugs were controlled substances and special permits were required before the medicine is released.

The drugs are mainly used by specialist doctors to induce loss of consciousness for surgeries and records are kept of the inventory, the official said.

Meanwhile, responding to Muaz’s remarks, MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said Nasheed’s trial is considered “a worldwide joke”.

The government broke all domestic and international rules in unfairly sentencing Nasheed, he contended, adding that the information came from a reliable source.

“We cannot believe such rule breakers will not do this. When it comes to such matters we do not know what they may or may not do,” he said.

“This country is run through state-sponsored terrorism. Impunity and lawlessness prevail. This is the kind of government ruling us today. So as long as this government is in power anything is possible.”

Imthiyaz said international best practice requires the state to inform an inmate’s lawyer or family before transfer to a different prison.

The MDP also called on the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, relevant authorities, friendly nations, and international organisations to take steps to ensure the safety of the former president.

Human rights commissioner Ahmed Tholal told Minivan News that members of the commission have visited the ‘Asseyri’ jail in Himmafushi for an inspection.

The members checked Nasheed’s cell and ensured that he was being treated in accordance with prison regulations.

While the members noted some problems, Tholal said the situation overall was “not bad.”

“We do take threats against people who are under state custody seriously and we are going to do everything we can with regard to such threats,” he said.


Hundreds of inmates display artwork at national gallery

Some one thousand inmates displayed a variety of artwork showcasing their creativity and skills in an annual exhibition at the national art gallery today.

Nimal Ibrahim, who won first place for his painting, said: “This is a great opportunity to showcase our potential and be a part of the society.”

Ibrahim’s painting depicted a man in a suit holding a scale jeering at four people, one of whom carried the Maldives flag.

The three-day exhibition organised by the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) is open to the public and will continue till Saturday night.

Inmates from the Maafushi and Asseyri jails exhibited over 850 paintings and hundreds of handicrafts and furniture today. Plants grown by inmates in an agricultural training session were also on display.

Hundreds of inmates were present at today’s exhibition, accompanied by security guards.

Several paintings depicted interrogation rooms and courtrooms, demonstrating the trials inmates go through in the Maldives criminal justice system.

A member of the organising team, corporal Abdulla Ameen, said inmates had worked on their artworks over the last year.

“There are about 500 inmates who have participated every year since this exhibition began in 2011,” he said.

Winners are given a prize of MVR500 (US$32). Members of the public can purchase any artwork and proceedings are to go to the correction centre’s cooperative society.

inmate art 2

Mohamed Shifag, who made a large wooden sail boat, said inmates worked on their artworks for a few hours every day.

“I learned how to do craft work from the courses we are taught,” he said.

In addition to art classes, inmates are also given classes in agriculture and religion.

“We receive help from the authorities for the courses we hold, and inmates are always looking for such opportunities,” said superintendent of jails, Mohamed Asif.

Inmates are selected for the courses based on their discipline.

The exhibition will be open from 2-6pm in the afternoon and from 8-10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.