PPM disciplinary committee decides to expel MP Mahloof

The disciplinary committee of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has decided to expel Galolhu South MP Ahmed Mahloof for allegedly bringing President Abdulla Yameen into disrepute with false statements in the media.

Ali Waheed, the committee’s vice chairman, told the press yesterday that Mahloof did not deny making the statements in question on opposition-aligned Raajje TV when he was summoned to answer the charges.

“The committee decided that this action was absolutely necessary,” Waheed said, adding that the decision to dismiss the MP was reached unanimously by the three members who participated in deliberations.

The PPM council member was accused of making statements that could cause loss of public confidence in President Yameen as well as misleading the public concerning the arrest of former Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.

Speaking to Minivan News after attending the disciplinary committee meeting, Mahloof said he told the committee he had “no problem with President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom]”.

“I did not say anything against [Gayoom] on Raajje TV,” he insisted.

“I told them that I spoke about President’s Yameen because of how the government is being run. My intention is not to defame or damage anyone but to put things on the right track.

“I was removed from the party just like how the Auditor General and Supreme Court Justices were removed. In haste and without giving due process”

Asked whether he would challenge the committee’s decision at the party’s appeals committee, Mahloof said the committee’s decision to dismiss him instead of issuing a warning or imposing a fine suggested the move was planned in advance.

“I know this was very much planned, I do not believe the party’s appeal committee will properly look into the matter,” he said.

“I do not trust the party’s internal mechanisms to deliver justice, therefore I shall not pursue the matter within the party.”

Asked whether he would join another party, Mahloof revealed that he had been in contact with both former President Mohamed Nasheed and Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, “but no arrangements have been made so far.”

“I need some time to think this through. I will decide on whether I should join a party or not after some contemplation and consultation with my constituents,” he added.

“So far, the reaction from my constituents have been positive and supportive. They understand that I am standing up for justice and principles. This is not the end to my political career, I will always serve the people and no one can put a halt to my political career.”

In his Raajje TV appearance on Sunday night, Mahloof said President Yameen was misusing the PPM’s parliamentary majority and called for the immediate release of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Nazim.

Mahloof alleged that police “framed” Nazim by planting a pistol and bullets in his apartments as a pretext for his arrest.

Nazim’s treatment by President Yameen’s administration was “a thousand times worse” than former President Nasheed’s arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his tenure, he said.

Mahloof also criticised the PPM’s decision to sever its coalition agreement with the JP after Gasim Ibrahim stood for the post of Majlis speaker, adding that he had supported Gasim’s candidacy as maintaining the coalition would have preempted the present crisis.

Declaring his loyalty to Gayoom and vowing never to speak ill of the PPM leader, Mahloof claimed the former president was “not in the picture” and was not involved in the government’s decision-making process, adding that Gayoom was unhappy with the current administration’s direction.

However, the PPM put out a press release the following day denying any rift between PPM Leader Gayoom and his half-brother President Yameen.

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Police deny framing Nazim as former Commissioner alleges politicisation

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has denied allegations it is framing former defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, who faces charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

In response to the claims made by Nazim’s legal team that dangerous weapons were planted in his home, police stated that “nothing was done in violation of procedures, regulations and laws in the investigation of the case”.

“Saying that police brought items into Nazim’s apartment” is untrue, read the police statement, describing such accusations as “baseless” and as “efforts to accuse the police in order to deceive the public to achieve particular goals”.

Nazim’s legal team – which alleges officers spent ten minutes unsupervised in his room during the raid – has appealed against the Criminal Court’s decision.

Meanwhile, former Police Commissioner and Jumhooree Party MP Abdulla Riyaz has expressed concern over what he described as “politicisation of the police”.

In a joint rally by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the JP last night Riyaz suggested: “We are now witnessing the realization of political agendas through the police force.”

“When I was there, the institution was free from political influence,” he added.

Riyaz was appointed the Commissioner of Police immediately after the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012, following a mutiny by sections of the security forces.

He was replaced after President Abdulla Yameen assumed presidency in November 2013, joining the then pro-government Jumhooree Party soon after and winning the Kinbidhoo constituency seat in the 2014 Majlis polls.

While the police received extensive criticism from opposition groups for their role in the transfer of power, and the brutal suppression of protesters the following day, Riyaz himself was investigated by the Police Integrity Commission for appearing to campaign against Nasheed’s 2013 presidential bid.

Riyaz re-posted a letter he claimed to have been sent, urging the police to “say no” to Nasheed on election day, just as they had on February 7.

The MP announced he would be joining Nazim’s legal team shortly after his arrest earlier this week, as did Adhaalath Party Spokesman Sheikh Ali Zahir.

Riyaz was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

Foul play

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed told Minivan News today that police officials had informed the Criminal Court under oath that the investigation had been completed and sent to the PG’s Office.

Yesterday’s police statement, however, noted that investigations into his case – including the “forensic process” – had not been concluded.

“Virdhan from Maldives Police Services who was under oath, stated in the remand hearing that although some forensic work is not fully complete, the investigation of the case has been completed,” explained Hameed.

Therefore, he said that the legal team has today asked the Criminal Court to provide them with transcripts or audio recording of the remand hearing.

He also stated that they have submitted a defamation case against the Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed for telling the press on January 29 that an improvised explosive device was found in Nazim’s home.

Hameed argued that the explosive device had not been found during the initial search, and was not listed in a record of items found, explaining that police only announced its discovery days later after an analysis conducted without independent oversight.

The legal team has also raised questions over why Nazim was arrested after more than 20 days had passed since the police raid on his residence.

He was dismissed as the defence minister two days after the January 18 raid, which police have maintained was ordered without knowing the identity of the residents.

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Former Defence Minister Nazim remanded for 15 days

The Criminal Court has remanded former Minister of Defence and National Security Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim for 15 days in police custody.

Nazim was arrested last night at around 1:15am and was taken to Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre.

Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed told Minivan News this morning (February 10) that his client was being charged with offences related to activities against the state, while his arrest form described the charges as terrorism and possession of illegal items.

Members from both the Adhaalath and the Jumhooree Party have today said they will join Nazim’s legal team, while the Prosecutor General’s Office has declined to comment on any aspect of the case.

Nazim himself tweeted news of his arrest to his followers shortly after 1am, also announcing that he had left the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives.

A press conference by Nazim’s legal team is scheduled to be held tonight at VTV at 9pm, explained the law firm of Maumoon Hameed – Premier Chambers.

Meanwhile Adhaalath Party spokesman Sheikh Ali Zahir tweeted saying that he has decided to join Nazim’s defence team along with former Commissioner of Police MP Abdulla Riyaz.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla has been one of the few politicians to comment on the case today, tweeting his belief that Nazim would not kill anyone in order to gain power.

“Nazim has been treated with injustice. We are and have been against injustice,” read another post from Imran today.

Following comments made in the media regarding the charges yesterday, Riyaz told Minivan News that he was convinced the case was “purely political”.

“The legal team has prepared a very strong case, and can positively prove that the items found at Nazim’s house do not belong to him,” he said.

Nazim had been minister of defence since the controversial transfer of presidential power in February 2012, having delivered an ultimatum on behalf of mutinous police and military units demanding President Mohamed Nasheed’s unconditional resignation.

Prior to his dismissal, he was considered one of the most powerful figures within the government, holding the health portfolio as well as chair of the Local Government Association (LGA).

Special Operations officers raided Nazim’s home in the early hours of January 18, with police later saying they had found dangerous weapons – including a pistol and an explosive device during the search.

After initially expressing support for the minister, Nazim was dismissed from his position two days later, being replaced by Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel on January 20.

Police have maintained they were unaware that the home belonged to the defence minister prior to the raid, later telling media that the decision was made not to make arrests due to the profile of the suspect.

After the passports of both Nazim and his wife were confiscated, the former minister was summoned for questioning at police headquarters earlier this week.

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