Nazim’s family to meet foreign diplomats in Colombo

Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s daughters and brother-in-law have departed to Colombo, Sri Lanka, to brief foreign diplomats regarding the prosecution of the retired colonel on weapons possession charges.

Nazim is currently on trial after police raided his apartment on January 18 and discovered a pistol and three bullets in a bedside drawer. He was subsequently dismissed from the cabinet and arrested on additional charges of treason and terrorism.

According to Vnews, Nazim’s two daughters and brother-in-law, Ismail Hameed, are scheduled to meet ambassadors, charge d’ affairs and high commissioners of Australia, Canada, Germany, United States, Britain, France, Switzerland and the European Union.

The family is also expected to hold a press conference for international media after the meetings.

In late February, Nazim’s family urged the international community to step up pressure on President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, claiming, “there is no hope that Nazim can expect a fair trial” due to a “notoriously politicised judiciary.”

Nazim’s lawyer claim he was “framed” after police planted a pistol and bullets in the then-defence minister’s apartment. However, police have denied the allegations, insisting that “nothing was done in violation of procedures, regulations and laws in the investigation of the case.”


Six senior government officials abused power in drug kingpin’s temporary release, says ACC

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has recommended charges be filed against six senior government officials for the temporary release of convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak in February.

Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Hanim personally paid a visit to a doctor at their home to obtain a signature claiming Shafaz required urgent medical care abroad.

However, the ACC found no evidence to suggest Shafaz required urgent treatment or care unavailable in the Maldives. Shafaz had not consulted a doctor at all in the week before his release.

Hanim, who is now the deputy minister of environment, also oversaw the illegal preparation of Shafaz’s travel documents and allowed him to leave the country without obtaining approval from the Maldives Correctional Service’s (MCS) medical board.

The investigations also revealed former Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim lobbied the medical board to approve Shafaz’s release despite knowing his paperwork was incomplete.

In addition to Hanim and Azim, the ACC has recommended corruption charges be filed against two members of the medical board, a technical officer at Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and a staff of the MCS.

Shafaz was caught in Sri Lanka in May in a joint operation by the Maldivian and Sri Lankan security forces when he failed to return to the Maldives in the three-month period he had been given.

The Criminal Court had in November 2013 sentenced the 30-year-old to 18 years in prison and had levied a fine of MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking.

Deputy Minister’s abuse of power

According to the MCS’s regulations, an inmate can only be allowed abroad for medical treatment if two doctors attest that the inmate requires urgent care that is not available in the Maldives.

The MCS’ medical board must then review the doctors’ referrals before endorsing the release.

According to the ACC, Chief Superintendent of Malé Prisons Mohamed Thaufeeg, on Hanim’s request, illegally entered the medical section and printed the forms required for Shafaz’s release.

Thaufeeq had entered the medical section’s premises in the absence of the officer in charge.

Hanim and Thaufeeq then paid a personal visit to a doctor at their home on February 2 to obtain signatures. Local media have identified the doctor to be Indian national Dr Ganga Raju.

The forms require signatures of two doctors, but a senior technical officer at IGMH, Abdulla Rafiu, filled in the second slot.

Hanim sent a letter to the Department of Immigration ordering Shafaz’s travel documents be prepared although such letters must in fact be sent by the individual who heads the Home Ministry’s Implementation Section.

The letter was prepared and dispatched before the medical board and the Commissioner of Prison’s approved Shafaz’s release.

When the head of the Implementation Section refused to allow Shafaz to leave Maafushi Jail on February 5, Hanim himself authorized the release.

According to the ACC, Hanim attempted to complete the paperwork only after Shafaz left the country.

Medical board’s role

The medical board met on February 4 to review Shafaz’s request for temporary release.

The board noticed only one doctor had signed his forms and that the forms did not provide details on Shafaz’s medical conditions or the type of treatment he was to receive abroad.

However, Azim assured the board that the proper paperwork would be submitted at the next meeting. Board members, Maldives Police Services Chief Inspector of Police Dr Mohamed Fazneen Latheef and Home Ministry’s Deputy Director General Ishaq Ahmed, supported the inmate’s release.

Fazneen admitted to the ACC that the medical board had not released any inmate without complete paperwork in the past, and said he believed he had failed to uphold the board’s stringent standards in supporting Shafaz’s leaving the country.

Azim only signed the medical board’s final approval after Shafaz had left.

Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011, with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.

Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police had raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long ‘Operation Challenge’.

Jinah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.

He claimed that the network had smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.

Related to this story

Convicted drug kingpin Shafa caught in Colombo

Doctor’s passport held as drug kingpin’s medical release investigated

Police arrest suspected drug kingpin after months of investigations


Drug kingpin Shafaz appeals conviction at High Court

Convicted drug trafficker Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak has appealed his drug trafficking charges at the High Court, reports local media.

At the first hearing yesterday, Shafaz’s lawyer argued that the trial at the Criminal Court was conducted in a prejudiced and unfair manner.

The defence attorney, Aminath Shezleen, noted that the verdict did not specify the type of drugs Shafaz was accused of trafficking with reference to the appendix of the Drugs Act.

While the conviction was based on a phone call recording, Shezleen said the audio was submitted as evidence without a chain of custody report from police as required by regulations.

The state attorney, however, defended the validity of the report and noted that both sides were allowed to question experts at the trial concerning the analysis report of the phone recording, adding that Shafaz had not denied that it was his voice in the incriminating audio.

Concluding the hearing, the three-judge panel asked for submission of both the chain of custody report and the recording of the phone conversation.

The judges announced that a second hearing would be held after considering the evidence.

The Criminal Court had sentenced the 30-year-old to 18 years in prison in November 2013 and levied a fine of MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking.

In February, Shafaz was temporarily released for three months to seek medical treatment said to be unavailable in the Maldives.

However, following media reports suggesting the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) violated procedures in authorising his release, Shafaz was caught in Colombo in May and brought back to the Maldives to serve his sentence.

Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011, with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.

Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police had raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long ‘Operation Challenge’.

Jinah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.

He claimed that the network had smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.


Low voter registration by Maldivians abroad could mean no voting in London, New Delhi and Singapore

Not sure where you are registered to vote? Check here online

The Elections Commission has warned it may not be able to place ballot boxes in London, Singapore and New Delhi for the upcoming presidential elections September 7, as current figures from the commission suggest that the number of registered voters is trailing below the required minimum 100 registered voters.

Speaking to Minivan News on Thursday, Vice President of the Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz said that with the deadline for voter registration expiring on August 7, the current rate of registration could mean Maldivians residing in London, New Delhi and Singapore may not be able to cast their vote in the elections.

“However, we can only say that for sure after the deadline expires,” he said.

Fayaz said other regions outside the country where large number of Maldivians currently reside are doing well in terms of registration. So far, the commission confirmed that it will be able to place ballot boxes in Trivandrum, Colombo and Malaysia.

According to Fayaz, 652 Maldivians have registered to vote in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 225 have registered to vote in Trivandrum, India and 302 people have registered to vote in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He also said the commission is currently working to get the figures from Singapore, London and Delhi.

Despite fears expatriate Maldivians would be unable to vote, the Chair of Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek – who is currently on the island of Fuahmulah conducting voter education programs – appeared confident that the commission could still place ballot boxes in the affected regions as past experience suggested Maldivians tend to register “at the last minute”.

“Even during the last elections, people registered to vote in the last week of registration. This is the last week. So I believe people will register and we will be able to place ballot boxes in all regions,” Thowfeek said.

Fuwad said the Elections Commission had been collaborating with respective Maldivian High Commissions in the regions to register voters for the upcoming elections.

“We have placed a focal point for the Elections Commission in all the High Commissions including Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India and UK. This has been done on the recommendations of the High Commissions as well,” he explained.

Thowfeek said that High Commissions will help register votes during normal working hours of the respective countries, according to a  procedure is similar to that carried out in the Maldives.

“The process is similar to [registration in] Male. A person who is, say for example, living in Ahmedabad in India can register to vote at Trivandrum through a friend. All he would need to do is to send a copy of his national ID card via fax or email. Likewise, a person living abroad can even register to vote in Male, by doing the same process. It is very similar to the procedure going on in Male,” he explained.

As in the Maldives, Thowfeek also said that political parties can assist in the registration of voters abroad.

“They will have to submit the registration forms to our focal points in the respective High Commissions. Registration can then be done from the High Commissions,” he said.

The Elections Commission has meanwhile established an online mechanism through its website for people to check the ballot box where they are registered to vote.

By entering a national ID card number, the website will display the name of the voter, the permanent address of the voter and the ballot box and the location where the voter is eligible to vote.

For Maldivians residing abroad, details can also be checked at focal points established in the High Commissions, Thowfeek added.

The Elections Commission have previously announced that the Presidential Elections are scheduled to take place on September 7. If no candidate attains the required 50 percent plus one vote to secure a first round election victory a run-off election is to take place 20 days after the first election.

The commission has announced that four candidates will be competing in the elections.

The candidates are leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim (running mate Dr Hassan Saeed), Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed (running mate Dr Musthafa Luthfy), incumbent President and independent candidate Dr Mohamed Waheed (running mate DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali) and Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen (running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel.

Check the voter registry and registered place of voting

Download registration form (Dhivehi)

In the Maldives? Check your details via SMS

To check where/if you are registered to vote, SMS 1414 ‘VIS(space)(National ID#)’

To check political party registration, SMS 1414 ‘PPR(space)(National ID#)’

Elections Commission hotline: 1414


MDP supporters target follow-up Colombo protest

Sri Lanka-based supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have announced plans to protest outside the Maldives High Commission in the capital of Colombo tomorrow afternoon.

Organisers of the demonstration, which will be held between 4:00pm and 6:00pm outside the High Commission building on Melbourne Avenue, have claimed that hundreds of Maldivian expatriates and MDP supporters are expected to be in attendance.

The demonstration will focus on condemning the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, which the party contends came to power in a “coup”, for not facilitating early elections this year, as well as drawing attention to alleged examples of brutality conducted by police and military under the present administration.

The protest will also reportedly “express solidarity with friendly nations” and organisations like the Commonwealth.

The intergovernmental organisation, along with the EU, has called for elections to be held before the end of 2012 as a means to restore political stability to the country.

The Commonwealth had also asserted pressure on the Maldives government to reconstitute the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) set up by President Waheed to probe the circumstances behind February’s controversial transfer of power.

Tomorrow’s protest comes one month on from a similar demonstration held by the MDP in Colombo.  Local media at the time reported that a “few dozen” demonstrators had been in attendance during the previous High Commission protest.


MDP holds anti-government protests in Colombo

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters took to the streets of the Sri Lankan capital Colombo yesterday to protest for early elections and the resignation of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Gathering outside the Maldivian High Commission in Colombo, “a few dozen” anti-government protesters were said to have taken part in the demonstrations, according to newspaper Haveeru.

The demonstration, which was attended by Former president Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair, also focused on the alleged use of excessive force by Maldivian security forces in order to disperse protesters on the streets of Male’.  The MDP contends February’s controversial transfer of power that brought President Waheed to power was a “coup d’etat” sponsored by mutinous sections of the police and military.

According to Haveeru, yesterday’s demonstration ended peacefully at about 5:30pm. However, the gathered crowd were said to have become briefly “unruly” after President Waheed’s brother, Assad Waheed, attempted to film coverage of the protest using his camera phone before returning into the High Commission building.


Search for missing Japanese husband persists

Maldivian authorities are working with the Japanese Embassy in Colombo to find the husband of the Japanese woman whose body washed up at the Adaaran Huduranfushi Island Resort last week.

A female body found on August 21 was confirmed to belong to the Japanese woman, age 28, who went missing from the resort with her husband, age 37, on August 17, reports Haveeru.

Local police officials said the body had decomposed after several days in the water, and DNA tests were needed to confirm it’s identity.

Preliminary investigations show drowning as a cause of death. There was no clear indication of foul play.

Management at Adaaran Huduranfushi discovered that the couple had gone missing after they missed two consecutive meals. Resort management immediately notified local authorities, who launched a search for the couple.


DRP ‘State of the Nation’ rally tonight: Thasmeen

The opposition DRP will hold a rally tonight (Thursday) ‘to clear some of the misinformation’ coming from the government regarding the current political crisis, reports Miadhu.

The DRP has decided to provide its own information to the international community, says the party’s leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. The DRP will be sending a delegation to Colombo to meet with foreign ambassadors accredited to Maldives, he said.

The DRP council has passed a resolution condemning the imprisonment of the Gasim Ibrahim and Abdulla Yameen, the respective leaders of the opposition Jumhooree and People’s Alliance parties, and calling for immediate release of the two MPs.


Zakir Naik to give lecture in Colombo

Islamic speaker, Zakir Naik, will address Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo, reports Miadhu.

Organisers said they expect around 50,000 people, adding many Maldivians living in Colombo will attend.

Naik, a medical doctor trained in Mumbai, will be transported in a helicopter and his lecture will be opened by Governor of the Western Province, Alawi Wauluana.

Organisers said the Colombo lecture will run for about four hours and the Sri Lankan government is providing security in the stadium and surrounding areas.

Naik has been invited to speak in the Maldives, but his original lecture was postponed. Naik is now scheduled to appear at the end of the month.