The Prosecutor General’s Office has threatened legal action against former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s lawyers over alleged attempts to unduly influence the retired colonel’s ongoing trial.
In a press statement issued Thursday night following a press conference by Nazim’s legal team, the PG office contended that making “indirect allegations” and public statements that undercuts evidence before it is presented at trial was tantamount to obstruction of justice.
“Therefore, we notify that we will be taking necessary action through the relevant institutions concerning statements by representatives of [the defendant] outside of court that directly influences an ongoing case in a court of law,” the PG office warned.
The statement added that the PG office could not respond to “every accusation repeatedly made through the media in a way that brings this institution into disrepute.”
Nazim is currently on trial on charges of illegal weapons possession 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.
At a press briefing yesterday, Nazim’s lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, revealed that a police forensic report shared with defence lawyers stated that fingerprints lifted from the weapon did not match either Nazim or any of his family members.
Moreover, at last week’s hearing of Nazim’s trial, lawyers objected to witness statements from 13 anonymised police officers submitted by the prosecution.
Noting that the PG office has redacted the names of the witnesses as well as other details, Hameed told the press yesterday that defence lawyers could neither rebut nor impeach anonymous witnesses as it would be impossible to determine if the officers had been present during the midnight raid.
The state prosectors’ claim that anonymising the police witnesses to ensure their safety was not a reasonable justification without establishing that either Nazim, his family, or supporters have threatened or intimidated witnesses, Hameed argued.
The justification was “laughable” as police have said the SWAT team officers involved in the raid were the most highly-trained in the force, he added.
However, the PG office statement insisted that anonymising witnesses out of fear they might face physical harm was an established legal norm in the Maldives.
Nazim’s legal team maintains that the former defence minister was “framed” and that the pistol was planted, allegations denied by police who insist that “nothing was done in violation of procedures, regulations and laws in the investigation of the case.”
In July 2014, parliament approved Muhsin as PG after MPs of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) decided to endorse the former Criminal Court judge despite the party’s leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, urging ruling party MPs to vote for his nephew Maumoon Hameed.
Hameed subsequently criticised the PPM MPs’ decision on his Facebook page.
“The reasoning behind the decision of the PPM parliamentary group this afternoon apparently went something like this: ’He won’t do as he’s told!’” he wrote.
“Given this reasoning, and the evident desire to install a puppet instead of someone who will uphold the law without fear or favour, I applaud the decision to endorse someone (anyone!) other than me.”
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