Family requests Nazim’s transfer from jail to house arrest

The family of former defense minister Mohamed Nazim has requested his transfer from prison to house arrest with an appeal filed over the 11-year-jail term on weapons smuggling charges stalled indefinitely at the High Court.

Nazim’s brother, Adam Azim, said the family has written to home minister requesting the transfer. The appeal was stalled after the Supreme Court suddenly transferred two judges on the five-judge-panel to a newly created appellate branch in the south.

Nazim maintains he was framed by rogue police officers who planted the pistol and three bullets in his apartment during a midnight raid.

The trial was criticized for apparent lack of due process. Appeal hearings were set to conclude within a week in late-June. The transfer of judges was made in the middle of the appeal on June 23.

Nazim’s trial coincided with the terrorism trial of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed. The opposition leader was sentenced to 13 years in jail over the military detention of a judge during his tenure. The pair’s imprisonment sparked a political crisis with daily protests.

With mounting diplomatic pressure, Nasheed was transferred to house arrest. Talks have now commenced between the government and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The MDP has requested Nazim be transferred to house arrest to allow political reconciliation. The largest opposition party has also requested the government withdraw terrorism charges against the Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla.

Imran was charged with inciting violence at a historic anti-government protest on May 1. The Adhaalath Party allied with the MDP in March after President Abdulla Yameen told Imran he had no power to release Nazim.

Home minister Umar Naseer told the press on Sunday that the government is open to exploring avenues to release jailed politicians and withdrawing charges. The government will present a paper at a third meeting on Wednesday night.

While there has been progress on government’s talks with the MDP and the Jumhooree Party, talks with the Adhaalath Party has been stalled, with the party insisting Imran should represent it at talks.

Ibrahim Muaz, the president’s office spokesperson, said the Adhaalath Party cannot present demands before sitting for talks. “There cannot be demands to start the discussions. Decisions can only made after discussing at the table.”

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Majlis committee votes to approve Jaleel as Defence Minister

The People’s Majilis’ government oversight committee has approved Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel as Defense Minister, despite pending terrorism charges at the Criminal Court.

Five ruling coalition MPs voted in favor. Opposition MPs and one ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP voted against the retired general.

“I refuse to vote for him because there are serious accusations against him. It is not right to approve him with all of these accusations,” said PPM MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed.

Jaleel was charged with terrorism along with former President Mohamed Nasheed for the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.

On March 13, Nasheed was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

President Abdulla Yameen appointed Jaleel as Defense Minister after dismissing Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim from the position on January 20.

Nazim is currently standing trial for smuggling illegal weapons following the police’s controversial discovery of a gun and three bullets during a midnight raid on January 18.

Jaleel has previously participated in a rally demanding a speedy verdict for Nasheed.

The Criminal Court has scheduled a hearing for Jaleel tomorrow night (March 16) at 8.00 pm.

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Evidence against Nazim consists only of 13 anonymised police statements

Evidence against former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim consists only of statements by 13 anonymised police officers, defence lawyers claimed last night.

At a second hearing into an illegal weapons charge, Nazim’s lawyers insisted evidence had been fabricated, and asked the Criminal Court’s three-judge panel to examine the legality of the means used to obtain evidence.

Nazim was charged with illegal weapons possession after police raided the then-defence minister’s apartment on January 18 and discovered a pistol and three bullets in a bedside drawer. Nazim was subsequently dismissed from the cabinet and arrested on additional charges of treason and terrorism.

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed said some of the police statements were dated a year back, and argued anonymised witnesses would obstruct Nazim’s right to a free and fair trial as it would be impossible for the defence to determine if the officer had in fact been present on the scene during the raid.

But presiding Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf told Hameed to focus on the content of the statements, and suggested judges would determine the authenticity of the witnesses.

Meanwhile, state prosecutors claimed it was necessary to anonymise witnesses to ensure their safety.

Major blunders

Hameed also pointed to what he called major blunders by state prosecutors, including a decision to withdraw charges against Nazim’s wife during the first hearing, allegedly in light of new information found in a pen drive confiscated during the raid.

According to prosecutors, the documents show Nazim was conspiring with opposition Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa group to harm senior government officials.

State prosecutors were also forced to change charges from illegal weapons possession to importing and possessing illegal weapons midway through yesterday’s hearing due to an error in the charge sheet.

Noting that evidence obtained by unlawful means is inadmissible in court, Hameed contended the search warrant issued by Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed was unlawful.

Station Inspector Ahmed Azmath Abdulla had obtained the warrant on his superior’s orders, not on information he had received, Hameed said.

Further, there had been no police intelligence reports on the presence of illegal weapons at Nazim’s apartment, he alleged.

Police must scrutinise and verify information before obtaining a warrant that violates a citizen’s privacy, he added.

The bench, however, pointed to a High Court ruling in which the appellate court said it could not rule on the legality of the search warrant as the case was ongoing at the Criminal Court.

Hameed noted the High Court’s ruling ordered the Criminal Court to rule on the warrant’s legality during the trial. Judge Yoosuf said the defence’s request had been noted and asked Hameed to speak on the evidence itself.

Hameed also asked for an open and public trial in a larger hall, saying Nazim had no confidence in Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin.

But judges said the trial was already public as media and members of the public were allowed to observe hearings. Ten reporters and ten members of the public were allowed into the courtroom.

Evidence

Hameed asked the state to provide additional information, including a video recording of the raid, forensic analysis reports, copies of data obtained from the pen drive, copies of the forms submitted to the Criminal Court to obtain the search warrant, statements by all police officers during the investigation, video recordings of interviews with Nazim, his family and his security officers, and lists of police officers on duty on the night of the raid.

The extensive list was necessary to determine if the evidence had been fabricated, he said.

State prosecutors said they would issue the requested documents upon further review.

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

“Nazim never expected to be where he is now. But he has fallen foul of a political conspiracy, one in which powerful forces within the Maldivian government have sought to destroy him and thus prevent him from challenging for the leadership of the ruling party,” Nazim’s family explained in a letter to the international community.

The Maldives Police Services have denied planting evidence and framing the former minister, insisting officers had acted professionally during the midnight raid.

The government has maintained the arrests and charges against Nazim demonstrate “no one is above the law,” and says it has no influence over the trial, claiming charges were initiated by an independent Prosecutor General and tried through an impartial judiciary.


Related to this story:

Ex-Defence Minister calls for an open, public trial

No hope for fair trial, says former defense minister’s family

Nazim accused of conspiring with Villa group to harm state officials

Ex defense minister’s wife charged with illegal weapons possession

Nazim remains in custody as High Court rejects appeal

Former Defence Minister Nazim remanded for 15 days

Police deny framing Nazim as former Commissioner alleges politicisation

No forensic evidence against Nazim, says legal team

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Defense Minister Jaleel granted three days to appoint a lawyer in terrorism trial

The Criminal Court has granted Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel three days to appoint a lawyer and answer terrorism charges for his role in the 2012 military operation to detain Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Jaleel was the Chief of Defense Forces at the time of Judge Abdulla’s arrest. Following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012, Jaleel was dismissed from his post.

He subsequently signed on to the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives in 2013 and ran in the party’s parliamentary primaries in 2014.

Jaleel was appointed to the Defense Minister’s post after former defense minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Naizim was arrested and accused of possessing dangerous weapons last month.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed and his former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, are also facing the same charges under the terrorism act, and have been given three days to appoint a lawyer at the Criminal Court.

Nasheed’s lawyers have alleged the opposition leader has been denied the right to legal counsel and the right to appeal prior to the court hearing.

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Tourism Minister Adeeb appointed as acting finance minister

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb has been appointed as the acting Minister of Finance and Treasury in the absence of Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad.

Jihad is currently abroad on a personal trip.

Adeeb is also acting as the Home Minister at present with Home Minister Umar Naseer out of the country until February 27.

In early January, Adeeb was temporarily put in charge of the Ministry of Defence and National Security while former Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim was out of the country on an unofficial trip.

Nazim was dismissed on January 20 after the police found a pistol and an explosive at his home in a late night raid on January 18.

The former defence minister has been accused of plotting a coup and is now under police custody.

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Former Defense Minister Nazim’s remand appealed at High Court

Former Defense Minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim’s legal team has appealed the Criminal Court’s remand sentence at the High Court today (February 11).

Nazim was given 15 days detention yesterday (February 10), after being arrested in the early hours of the same day and taken to Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre.

Speaking at a press conference last night, Nazim’s legal team had said their client was being framed, implying the firearms found during a raid on his home were planted.

On January 18, police raided the former minister’s apartment and claimed to have found pistol, three bullets, and an improvised explosive device while confiscating a pen drive.

A police statement issued last night claimed to have found documents in the pen drive suggesting that Nazim “was plotting to physically harm senior Maldivian state officials”.

“In addition, police intelligence has received information that he was plotting with various parties to overthrow the government,” read the statement.

The police have maintained they were unaware the apartment they were raiding belonged to the former defense minister and said they had decided not to arrest him at the scene due to his high profile.

Hameed questioned the police’s decision to arrest Nazim after the completion of investigations, and claimed such an arrest can only be made through a PG order.

Jumhooree Party MP and former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz accused the police of unprofessionalism, saying: “This was clearly done to frame Colonel Nazim.”

Nazim and his wife’s passports have been confiscated.



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Police accuse Nazim of plotting coup, planning to harm senior government officials

Additional reporting by Mohamed Saif Fatih

The Maldives Police Services has accused former Defense Minister (retired) Colonel Mohamed Nazim of plotting to overthrow the government and harm senior government officials.

A police statement issued at 9pm tonight claimed to have found documents in a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s house during a midnight raid on January 18 suggesting he “was plotting to physically harm senior Maldivian state officials.”

“In addition, police intelligence has received information that he was plotting with various parties to overthrow the government,” the statement read.

During the search, the police claimed to have found a pistol, bullets and an improvised explosive device.

Nazim was arrested at 1:15am on Tuesday (February 10) on charges of treason and possession of illegal weapons. The Criminal Court has extended his detention for 15 days.

At a 9pm press conference at Villa TV tonight, Nazim’s legal team said the former minister is being framed and have implied the firearms found during the raid were planted. Nazim’s remand sentence is to be appealed at the High Court tomorrow.

If convicted, Nazim faces a jail term between seven and ten years. The police have forwarded charges to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

“Framed”

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed suggested weapons may have been planted, claiming police officers who raided Nazim’s apartment had spent ten minutes in the bedroom in his absence.  Further, police only announced they had found an improvised explosive device days later after an analysis conducted without independent oversight, he said.

“This is nonsense,” Hameed repeatedly told the press at Villa TV tonight.

After police forced open Nazim’s door at 3:30am on January 18, police immediately entered Nazim’s bedroom, taking him, his wife and two of their children to the living room, Hameed explained.

“After the whole family was taken to the sitting room, the police officers who had initially entered the apartment remained in the master bedroom for approximately ten minutes.”

A team of plainclothes officers arrived afterwards and produced a search warrant. The pistol and three live bullets were found in a bedroom drawer during a search in Nazim’s presence.

The improvised explosive device had not been found during the initial search and the item was not even listed in a record of items found during the search, he said.

The police have maintained they were unaware the apartment they were raiding belonged to the former defense minister and said they had decided not to arrest him at the scene due to his high profile.

Hameed questioned police’s decision to arrest Nazim after the completion of investigations, and claimed such an arrest can only be made through a PG order.

Jumhooree Party MP and former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz accused the police of unprofessionalism and said: “This was clearly done to frame Colonel Nazim.”

Nazim and his wife’s passports have been confiscated.

His arrest appears to be part of a larger crackdown on political rivals by President Abdulla Yameen. The former minister had revealed his presidential aspirations following the raid on January 18.

Nazim was a central figure in former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster. He had delivered an ultimatum to Nasheed demanding an unconditional resignation on February 7, 2012.

He has served as Defense Minister for three years now, first under Nasheed’s successor Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Following Nazim’s dismissal, Nasheed’s former Chief of Defense Forces Moosa Ali Jaleel was appointed as Defense Minister.

Prior to Nazim’s arrest, President Yameen retired Vice Chief of Defense Forces Ahmed Mohamed and appointed Brigadier General Ahmed Shahid to the post.

Changes brought to military ranks in late January include the dismissal of Major Ahmed Faisal and Captain Ibrahim Naeem from the posts of head of the Special Protection Group (SPG) and Head of Armory, respectively.

Lieutenant Colonels Ahmed ‘Papa’ Fayaz and Abdul Rauf were appointed to head the SPG and Armory respectively.

(PHOTO: MOHAMED NAZIM ADDRESSING MUTINYING SECURITY FORCES ON FEBRUARY 7, 2012)



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Pistol and explosive device found at Nazim’s home, says Police Commissioner

The Maldives Police Services has revealed that it found a pistol and a makeshift explosive device at the home of former defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, during a raid on January 18.

Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed told media today that, after searching Nazim’s home using “forced entry”, the police found a 9mm handgun, an improvised explosive device, 3 bullets, and a magazine.

“We did not arrest Nazim at the time because we did not see it as the best course of action to proceed depending on his profile,” said Waheed.  “However as you can see we have prevented him from leaving abroad.”

According to media reports yesterday (January 28), the former minister’s passport was being held by the department of immigration after a court order was issued.

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed – who replaced former Attorney General Azima Shukoor this week – has released a statement this evening denying that the items were there with his client’s knowledge.

“The items claimed to have been found at Colonel Mohamed Nazim’s residence by Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed do not belong to Colonel Nazim or his family, and if there were any items were present at the house, they were there without Colonel Nazim’s or his family’s knowledge,” read the statement.

Commissioner Waheed said this afternoon that the MPS had written to the Maldivian National Defense Force to verify ownership of the weaponry, but was informed that no items were missing from the military’s inventory.

He added that the weapons were “very dangerous” and that while the handgun could be lethal, the explosive device when matched with another component could cause “large scale destruction”.

The commissioner also revealed that a pen drive had been confiscated during the search, containing information that could help the investigation.

“We are still proceeding with the investigation of the case, but we plan to file it with the Prosecutor General’s Office as soon as the investigation is done,” said Waheed.

He maintained that the service was not aware that it was Nazim’s home until after entering, but noted that they had adhered to international best practices and that Nazim was present during the search.

Nazim – who was also acting health minister and head of immigration – was dismissed from his post on January 20, three days after police raid.

Speaking to the media at the time, Nazim said that events had shown no Maldivian was assured of safety and security.

“This gives an alarming signal that entering any house, at any time and to do anything is possible. The defence minister is the most senior official standing beside the president,” he told the press immediately following his dismissal.

Police have since suggested that Nazim was questioned regarding the weapons but that he had failed to adequately respond to the questions.

Nazim is currently being represented by lawyer Hameed – nephew of President Abdulla Yameen – after Azima Shakoor dropped the case yesterday citing “personal reasons”.

*Original article updated at 8:10pm to include a statement from Nazim’s lawyer



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Don’t elect President who will “run after you with batons”, Defence Minister advises MNDF officers

Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim has strongly advised officers of the Maldives National Defence Force as to how they should vote, suggesting they should not elect a candidate who would “run after them with batons”.

Nazim made the remarks while addressing military officers during the ceremony held to mark the 121st anniversary of the Maldivian army on Wednesday.

Nazim – who was a central figure behind the ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 2012, which the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) maintains to be a coup d’etat – stressed that though the military were not allowed to partake in political activities, the right to cast their ballot in the presidential elections like any other citizen, “must be exercised with due care”.

He also urged the officers to questions their own conscience before casting their ballot that would elect the President – who by virtue is their highest authority as Commander in Chief.

Attempting to draw a line between former President Nasheed and President Mohamed Waheed Hassan – who was present at the ceremony – Nazim said that “it is important to see whether the commander in chief is a person who would run after [you] with a baton or whether he is a person who takes a great deal of patience in resolving complicated matters”.

Nazim who appeared keen to advise the military on what type of a candidate they should vote for in the elections, said the military had a proud history and that the person who assumes the role of their commander in chief should possess certain features.

“That is why we must see who we are voting in the next elections,” the retired colonel said.

Nazim also spoke about his “experience” of February 7, 2012 when former President Nasheed’s government was toppled.

Nazim who was a civilian at the time, took over the command of the military and was seen leading the military side while Nasheed was still legally the commander-in-chief.

Nazim entered military headquarters as a civilian and gave Nasheed an ultimatum to unconditionally resign within one and a half hours time, or face consequences.

Nasheed, who had by then lost control of both the army and police and was surrounded by angry protesters including mutinying security forces, bowed to the demands and submitted his resignation. The protesters, including military and police officers, promptly stormed the state broadcaster, and Nasheed’s resignation was broadcast live on the re-appropriated network.

Nazim, explaining his view of the controversial events, said he went near the MNDF barracks after he lost his patience with the chaos that had built in the area. Another reason, he said, was to lend any sort of assistance he could provide to help the country at the time since he was an ex-serviceman.

“If the events that took place on that day had taken a different turn, instead of being in this position I would have ended up behind bars in jail. I might not even be alive,” he admitted.

Nazim claimed that the events witnessed on February 7 would continue to remain an unforgettable event and said that the country’s political leadership had severely failed.

“I saw the MNDF officers totally confused. They did not know what was happening. I am sure no soldier of this great nation would want such a day to repeat again,” he said.

Nazim also praised President Waheed claiming that it was the president’s immense patience and foresight that helped resolve the political chaos that followed after the change of regime.

The Defence Minister also claimed that President Waheed put a great deal of trust in the senior leadership of the military and has given the military the space and freedom to organise the institution on its own.

He also assured that MNDF officers would not be used by President Waheed to gain any political upper hand.

Nazim trying to politicise MNDF, claims MDP

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned Nazim’s remarks to the military, claiming that the minister was attempting to influence officers’ right to freely cast their vote.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP Spokesperson MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said the day Nasheed was toppled was the day Nazim gave up his self-respect and dignity, by orchestrating a “coup d’état”.

“After committing the highest treason against this state and being at the forefront of a coup that toppled the country’s first democratically elected president, who is Nazim to talk about pride in the MNDF in the first place?” Fahmy asked.

Fahmy described Nazim’s speech as a “cheap” political gimmick and claimed it showed how desperate the government was given  poor public support for President Waheed.

“It is hilarious that Nazim is speaking about running after people with batons. This same person was among those who ran with batons and beat ordinary people of this country. But yet, without even a single hint of shame, he is now telling MNDF officers to look out for those with batons,” Fahmy said.

Fahmy reiterated that despite how much Nazim tries to convince that he is not a “coup leader” the majority of the officers in MNDF knew who Nazim was and that they knew what happened on February 7 was wrong.

“I am certain that despite all of this, the MDP will get the majority votes even from the MNDF,” Fahmy added.

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