PG’s office still has not received Criminal Court report on Adam Naseer

The Prosecutor General’s office has said the Criminal Court still has not provided them with the reports on the verdict of Adam Naseer, labelled one of the country’s top six drug dealers, reports Miadhu.

Naseer was arrested in July 2009 and acquitted by the Criminal Court in February 2010 due to lack of evidence.

Following his acquittal, Naseer sued the Maldives Police Service (MPS) for holding his money and freezing his bank accounts. There were more than Rf 5 million in cash.

The PG’s office appealed to the High Court to keep his assets frozen until the appeal on his criminal charges was completed by the High Court.

The PG’s office was expecting the report from the Criminal Court to continue with the appeal, as they could not proceed without it.

In March 2010, Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shammem told Minivan News “we are still waiting on the full report from the Criminal Court, hopefully [we will get it] by the end of this week” he said. “We still need to get things started.”

Shameem told Miadhu his office had asked the Criminal Court twice for the reports but still had not received them.


Police arrest man with illegal drugs

A man was apprehended by police yesterday afternoon for being allegedly involved in selling and using illegal drugs.

The man was caught by Seenu, Gan police with seven packets of illegal drugs while he was waiting near Maradhoo Harbour waiting for his motorcycle. Police were searching for two people reported to have gone to Maradhoo to sell drugs.

Police found Rf12,945 in cash in the man’s pocket as well as the packets of drugs.

Police in Gan, along with the Drug Enforcement Department of Maldives Police Service are investigating the case.


National football team player arrested

Police have arrested mid-fielder for the Maldives national football team and Victory club, Mohamed ”Bakaa” Arif, in connection with a drug-related case.

Sub-inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that Arif was arrested last Thursday in connection with a police special operation.

Shiyam said the case was under investigation and he could not provide more details on the arrest.

Arif was recently transferred from the New Radicals club to the Victory, for whom he still has not played a single game.


Police seek cooperation to stop gang violence

Police are launching a major operation to minimise gang violence, reports Miadhu.

Police have communicated with the courts, the Prosecutor General’s office, People’s Majlis and the media.

Police said gang violence is rising, and a gang-related case is reported to the Police every 27 minutes. There have been thirteen deaths and many injuries in the last three years relating to these cases.

Police said the main reasons behind gang violence were lack of education, unemployment and drugs. Police said most gang members were aged between 15 and 21.

Police Commissioner Faseeh asked the media for their full cooperation. He said full cooperation from all concerned members was essential in abating crime.


High Court freezes accounts belonging to Adam Naseer

The High Court today ruled that Adam Naseer’s bank accounts would remain frozen until the appeal process launched by the Prosecutor General’s Office is complete.

Naseer was arrested on charges of drug trafficking in July 2009, and was acquitted by Judge Abdul Baary Yousuf on 28 February, who noted there was a lack of evidence against Naseer.

The government has previously identified Naseer as one the country’s top six drug dealers, and his acquittal has raised concern among many about the integrity of the judicial system.

The High Court’s decision to freeze Naseer’s accounts follows a decision yesterday by the Criminal Court ruling that police were to return the Rf6 million (US$467,000) in cash found in Naseer’s house when he was arrested.

Police Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that the police had requested the High Court suspend the order to return the money to Naseer, and to freeze his bank accounts, until the appeal process from the PG’s office was complete.

Shiyam called the court’s speedy ruling “a success” and said the police “hope future cases will be treated in the same manner.”

President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said “I don’t think [Naseer] is under arrest” but noted that he was unable to leave the country.

“Immigration has a black list of all individuals with pending judicial matters,” he said.

Shiyam confirmed Naseer was “at home” but not under house arrest.

High Court decision

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem confirmed the PG’s office submitted an appeal to the High Court yesterday for Naseer’s bank accounts to remain frozen while the appeal to his drug charges is in process.

Shameem explained that it was very important for Naseer’s money to remain frozen through the appeal process because “if he gets a hold of it, he could send it abroad or launder it.”

Under the Narcotics Law, any money obtained through illegal activities “shall be confiscated by the state.”

“We have asked the court to confiscate the money in case he is later convicted,” Shameem added.

Shameem said he thought the High Court’s ruling to freeze Naseer’s assets was “a good decision” but the noted that the case would not yet be heard in the High Court.

“They will send a summon in time. We still have to wait,” he said.

Shameem noted that the case cannot be heard at the High Court until the Criminal Court sends a formal report on the original ruling, which includes the documents that were submitted and the witness statement.

“We are still waiting on the full report from the Criminal Court, hopefully [we will get it] by the end of this week” he said. “We still need to get things started.”

Shiyam suggested “there are more charges to come” in the Naseer case,  although he would not comment on whether there will be new evidence submitted in the High Court’s hearing.

Judicial reform

There has been much public outcry about the performance of the judicial system, sparked by Adam Naseer’s acquittal.

Even President Mohamed Nasheed said at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally on Sunday 28 February, “When there’s Rf5 million in a bag underneath the bed and the judge doesn’t think it raises any kind of doubt, I wonder how they perform their duties as a judge.”

A source familiar with the judicial reform process said the judge’s conduct needed to be “looked into”.

The source noted that 75 per cent of the country’s judges had not finished primary-level education, and had simply acquired a ‘judge’s certificate’ or been appointed by the previous regime. Historically, “a few people” instructed the judges on the law “and verdicts”.

Secretary General at the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC), Muna Mohamed, meanwhile confirmed that only 35 out of 202 judges have a degree in law, and only one has a diploma in Shari’a law. The remaining 166 have local trainee certificates.


Jail officers helping inmates bring in “drugs, phones”

Several jail officers are being investigated on suspicion of helping inmates to bring mobile phones and drugs into cells in Male’ prison, according to State Minister for Home Affairs Ahmed Adil.

“Three inmates and several jail officers we suspect [to be involved] have been moved to Dhoonidhu [prison] for investigation,” Adil said.

Inmates in Male’ Prison last week damaged their cells after jail officers seized mobile phones and other contraband. Adil said the trouble started after inmates refused to hand over a mobile phone.

”Jail officers found a mobile phone inside a cell, and they checked other cells,” Adil said. ”Officers then discovered drugs in another cell.”

Adil said that after the officers took the mobile phone inmates started to protest.

”They broke the flush tanks in the toilet and damaged other jail property,” he said, adding that the inmates were eventually controlled with the help of police.

He refuted a report published in Haveeru that claimed the protest was started after a “delay in financial transactions between a family and the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS)”.

Police sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the DPRS requested help from police to control the inmates during the incident.

Nobody was injured during the riot, he noted.

Director of the DRPS Saudh Abdul Kareem meanwhile refused to comment on the incident, claiming that Minivan News “causes me trouble by always disturbing me to clarify cases.”


“Not long” before police arrest remaining four top dealers, says police drugs chief

The head of the police drug enforcement unit Mohamed Jinah has claimed “it won’t be long” before police arrest the remaining four of the top six drug dealers identified by President Mohamed Nasheed.

“Two of the top six drug dealers have been arrested. We will arrest the remaining four as soon as possible,” he promised.

“They are not difficult to catch, but we want to catch them with a lot of proof and evidence. That is why it is taking so long.”

Jinah said that instead of focusing on capturing street level drug dealers, police had this year tried to target the higher levels and block the problem from the top.

”Hopefully, this year we will also arrest many smugglers and drug dealers,” he added.

Police also revealed today that they had pursued 2363 drugs-related cases in 2009, 1038 of which were sent to the prosecutor general’s office.

Police also conducted 200 “special operations to capture drug dealers in Male, ” Jinah revealed.

Last year police also seized 11.5 kilograms of drugs, including heroine, cannabis and benzodiazepine.

That haul meant the number of new drug users had been reduced by 43 per cent compared to previous years, Jinah said, citing a police survey.

Meanwhile, the Department of Penitentiary and Rehabilitation Service (DPRS) recently caused controversy by transferring 87 inmates to house arrest, many of whom were drug offenders caught in possession of less than three grams of narcotic.

The DPRS said seven of them had been returned to jail because of bad behaviour “and not following the rules we applied to them.”‘


Two arrested for drug possession in Kaafu Himmafushi

Police have arrested two men in Kaafu Himmafushi carrying packets of suspected narcotics.

Ismail Ibrahim, 30, of Meadows, Kaafu Himmafushi was arrested at 4:00am this morning with five packets of suspected narcotics.

Ahmed Abdullah Gadhir, 28, of Alhivilaage, Gaafu Dhaalu Thinadhoo was arrested last night at 11:50pm. Gadhir was in possession of one packet of alleged drugs.

According to police, both men were arrested after police received information the men were using illegal drug use.


EU’s anti-drug money will go towards rehabilitation

The Maldives has signed a memorandum of understanding between the European Union (EU) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The deal includes an aid package worth €1.5 million over two and a half years to strengthen the country’s response to drug abuse.

Foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed said the money, which comes from the EU and would be in the hands of UNODC, will mostly be used to help with the rehabilitation of drug addicts, make people aware of the relationship between HIV and drug use.

Dr Shaheed signed the agreement at a ceremony yesterday with EU Ambassador Varnerd Savage and representative of the UNODC Regional Office South Asia, Cristina Albertin.

Speaking at the ceremony, Varnard said the program would strengthen the national response to combating drug abuse in the Maldives, and would target the major problem areas of drugs and crime.

Albertin said 10 per cent of the Maldivian population is affected by drug abuse, and that UNODC hoped the program would assist  in the country’s enforcement of drug laws.


Chairperson of the Society for Women Against Drugs (SWAD) Fathmath Aafiya said she hoped the project would not end up like the government’s previous ‘WAKE-UP’ program.

”The government does not do sufficient work to reduce the number of drug importers,” she said, criticising the government’s lenient treatment of dealers by placing some under house arrest and letting others go free.

Aafiya said the government had “a lot of work to do” to reduce the importation of drugs into the country.

SWAD was expecting the new program to be beneficial, she added, as it would increase the aftercare and rehabilitation of drug users.