Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s legal team has slammed online news outlet Vaguthu over the publication of leaked documents allegedly obtained from a pen drive confiscated from the retired colonel’s apartment.
Vaguthu claimed today that the documents were shown to lawyers at a closed hearing of Nazim’s ongoing trial on weapons smuggling charges and were leaked “after the legal team took pictures of the documents and sent to close friends.”
In a press statement today, Nazim’s legal team condemned Vaguthu for publishing a story with “blatantly false information.”
“We note that the [allegations of the lawyers] committing illegal acts are baseless falsehoods fabricated with the intention of misleading those who did not attend the court hearings regarding the proceedings,” the press release stated.
The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office had submitted plans contained in the pen drive as confidential documents. The pen drive was allegedly confiscated along with a pistol and three bullets during a midnight raid at the then-defence minister’s apartment on January 18.
Nazim’s legal team categorically denied taking photos of the documents, noting that court officers searched lawyers with a hand-held metal detector before entering the courtroom.
As the confidential documents were shown to defence lawyers inside the courtroom and were not released, the legal team noted that lawyers would not have had the opportunity to take photos while court officers, state prosecutors, and judges were present.
Moreover, as the law firm’s offices were in front of the justice building, none of Nazim’s lawyers took their phones to the court hearings, the press release added.
The allegations by Vaguthu journalist Adam Nawaz were intended to unlawfully “challenge justice” in violation of court orders, influence public perception concerning Nazim’s trial and conceal the source of the documents, the legal team contended.
At a hearing on March 11, state prosecutors claimed that plans on the pen drive showed that the then-defence minister was planning to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, and Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed.
The plans demonstrated Nazim had the “motive and character” to use the pistol and bullets, State Prosecutor Adam Arif told the Criminal Court.
However, Nazim’s lawyers alleged that rogue police officers planted the weapons in a conspiracy engineered by Adeeb. The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) deputy leader subsequently dismissed the allegations as “lies.”
Nazim was sacked from the cabinet after the midnight raid on January 18 and arrested on additional charges of terrorism and treason on February 10.
Pen drive plot
Vaguthu meanwhile claimed to have verified the authenticity of the leaked documents, which allegedly revealed “a huge conspiracy to murder Tourism Minister Adeeb” on February 14 and assassinate President Yameen in Singapore.
“The document indicated that Nazim should advise Adeeb to hold a show on Valentine’s Day and the attack was planned to happen at the show which will put the blame on the extremists and therefore the evidences can be destroyed and as well the attackers could escape,” reads the Vaguthu article.
Adeeb’s assassins or marksmen were to flee on a speedboat in front of the Merry Brown restaurant and spend three days at Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Paradise Island Resort, after which they would be flown to Bangkok, Thailand.
The documents also contained a chart showing the Yameen administration divided into factions led respectively by the president and then-Defence Minister Nazim.
Nazim’s “team” included Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), Home Minister Umar Naseer, former Police Commissioner and current JP MP Abdulla Riyaz, Maldives Ambassador to Malaysia Mohamed Fayaz ‘FA,’ former State Trading Organisation (STO) Managing Director Adam Azim (Nazim’s brother), PPM MP Hussain Manik Dhon Manik, PPM MP Ahmed Nazim, Youth Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, and President’s Office Minister Abdulla Ameen.
“Tourism Minister Adheeb’s connection is extended to Environment Minister Thariq Ibrahim, Attorney General Mohamed Anil and Fisheries Minister Dr. Mohamed Shainy,” Vaguthu stated.
“Minister Adheeb’s connection is further extended to Auditor General Hassan Ziyath, Prosecutor General Muhuthaaz Muhusin, Supreme Court, Progressive Party of Maldives’ PG group, and Anti-corruption Commission.”
The plot allegedly involved Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam, Vice Chief of Defence Forces Ahmed Mohamed, Gasim’s Villa Group, STO, and an individual identified as “Bodu Boalha Naseem” who was to secure weapons from the MNDF armoury.
After President Yameen is assassinated, Vaguthu claimed that Dr Jameel would assume the presidency and back Nazim’s presidential bid in 2018. Upon winning the election, Nazim would “reconnect with the Zaeem team,” a likely reference to PPM leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
“All the government contracts will be assigned to Gasim after Nazim is elected as the President and if necessary, FA Fayaz will get the support from the Thailand’s army,” reads the Vaguthu article.
Photos from Vaguthu
Related to this story:
State concludes witness testimony in former Defence Minister Nazim’s trial
Ex-defence minister “plotted to attack” president, police chief, tourism minister
PG threatens legal action against Nazim’s lawyers
Adeeb framed Nazim after fallout over Malé City’s Areca palms, lawyers claim
Fingerprints on confiscated pistol did not match Nazim’s, lawyers reveal
Evidence against Nazim consists only of 13 anonymised police statements