Convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak has been caught in Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo in a joint operation by the Maldivian and Sri Lankan security services.
Shafaz, commonly known as Shafa, was temporarily released in February for three months to seek medical treatment said to be unavailable in the Maldives.
However, he failed to return during the allocated time period and did not ask for an extension.
“He will be brought back to the Maldives on the next flight. His failure to return in the designated time period is an offense,” Home Ministry’s media coordinator Thazmeel Abdul Samad told Minivan News.
The Criminal Court in November 2013 sentenced the 30-year-old to 18 years in prison and levied a fine of MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking.
Shafaz’s temporary release has garnered controversy, with news agency Haveeru claiming the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) violated procedures in authorising his release.
The newspaper said it has documents suggesting widespread corruption and negligence by the medical board at the MCS and doctors at state owned Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Shafaz’s release.
Regulations require inmates to obtain signatures from two specialists to leave the country for medical treatment abroad, but only one doctor had signed the forms, Haveeru said.
The other individual who signed the document was not a doctor, but a prosthetist and orthotist – an individual who provides care for people requiring artificial limbs.
The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) issued a warrant in April prohibiting the doctor from leaving the country. Haveeru has identified the doctor to be Indian national Dr Ganga Raju.
Although doctors at Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) are required to hold discussions on cases where inmates need to seek medical care abroad, no such discussions took place, the newspaper alleged.
Further, although the MCS medical board noted the lack of two doctors’ signatures on the form, the board still authorised the release.
Moreover, the documents presented to the board did not contain details of why Shafaz required “urgent” medical care abroad for pain in his neck, and did not say that treatment was unavailable in the Maldives, the newspaper added.
Only two of the four members on the board authorised the release. They were representatives of the Maldives Police Services Dr Mohamed Fazneen and the Home Ministry’s Ishaq Mohamed. IGMH’s Dr Moosa Murad and MCS’ Deputy Commissioner of Prisons Hassan Zilal were on leave at the time.
Dr Mohamed Fazneen resigned from the board in mid March.
Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim has previously told Minivan News all due procedures were followed in the case.
When inmates are released for medical treatment abroad they are not accompanied by MCS employees and are not subject to any restrictions, the MCS has said.
“A medical officer does not have to accompany the inmate. He was allowed to leave under an agreement with his family. Family members will be held accountable for his actions, including failure to return,” Azim told Minivan News at the time.
Shortly after his departure to Sri Lanka, local media revealed that Shafaz had appealed his sentence at the High Court.
Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011, with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.
Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police had raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long ‘Operation Challenge’.
Jinah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.
He claimed that the network had smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.