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.
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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