Criminal Court bars ex-defence minister from calling witnesses

The Criminal Court today admitted only two of the 37 defence witnesses requested in former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s weapons possession trial.

Nazim has previously claimed rogue police officers planted a pistol and three bullets found at his apartment during a midnight raid, but the Criminal Court refused to allow the retired colonel to present witnesses, stating they do not appear to negate the prosecution’s charge.

Defence lawyer Ibrahim Shameel pointed to a 2011 Supreme Court precedent in which the apex court said judges had no authority to refuse to hear witnesses.

In reply, presiding Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf said: “We know what that verdict says. [But] this court has made a decision.”

State prosecutors and defence lawyers are to present concluding statements at the next hearing on Wednesday. Afterwards, the three-judge panel could issue a verdict at their discretion.

The three judges overseeing Nazim’s case, Judge Yoosuf, Judge Abdulla Didi and Judge Sujau Usman, had convicted former President Mohamed Nasheed of terrorism on March 13 and sentenced him to 13 years in jail over the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and UN Special Rapporteur on Independent of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul last week called Nasheed’s sentence unfair, contending the Criminal Court’s refusal to call defence witnesses contravened international fair trial standards.

The Criminal Court tonight also refused to allow Nazim to leave the country for urgent medical treatment, noting doctors had said he could attend court hearings despite his condition.

Lawyer Maumoon Hameed in court last week said Nazim’s condition was life-threatening. The former defence minister was subsequently transferred from the Dhoonidhoo Remand Center to house arrest on the doctor’s recommendation.

SWAT officers “gone rogue”

At today’s hearing, the Criminal Court called Superintendent of Police Abdulla Satheeh and Assistant Commissioner of Police Hussein Adam to the witness stand.

Although judges summoned Chief Superintendent of Police Abdul Mannan Yoosuf, they refused to allow the defence team to ask questions over a possible setup against Nazim.

Meanwhile, Adam, who current heads the police’s Internal Security Command and commands the Specialist Operations (SO) officers, told the Criminal Court that Deputy Commissioner of Police Hassan Habeeb asked him to alert the SO’s SWAT team for a major operation, four days before the raid.

Satheeh, who was the chief investigative officer in Nazim’s case, confirmed the raid was carried out under Habeeb’s commands, and said it was the deputy commissioner who had decided not to arrest Nazim at the scene despite the discovery of dangerous weapons.

Satheeh also corroborated testimony by several anonymous police officers last week that the search team had entered Nazim’s apartment after SWAT officers secured the premises.

Nazim’s lawyers previously claimed SWAT officers, after breaking down Nazim’s door and herding his family inside the living room, spent ten minutes inside the then-defence minister’s bedroom unsupervised before the search began.

Adam noted the police would normally request the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) to secure premises before a raid to confiscate illegal weapons and explosive devices.

He also said he was unaware the police were raiding Nazim’s home until the next day, and he had raised the issue with the Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed afterwards. But the police chief said some operations must be kept secret, Adam said.

Satheeh, who also heads the police’s Serious and Organized Crime Unit, said he did not notice police having acted against laws and regulations during the investigation.

The search warrant was obtained after police received information from a credible source, Satheeh said. The information did not come through the police’s intelligence directorate, he said, but the police acted on the information because of the reliability of the source.

State prosecutors in court previously said confidential documents on a pen drive confiscated along with the pistol and three bullets indicated Nazim was plotting to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Tourism Minister Adeeb and Waheed, with the financial backing of opposition Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group.

But Nazim said the SWAT officers framed him on Adeeb’s orders following a fall-out over his complaint with President Yameen regarding Adeeb’s alleged use of the SWAT team to commit crimes, including the chopping down of all of Malé City’s areca palms.

Police have previously dismissed allegations of framing as “untrue” and “baseless.” Adeeb has also said he was “shocked” by the defence team’s “lies.”


Crime lowest in five years, claims Police Commissioner

Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed has told media that 2014 saw the fewest reported incidents of crime in five years.

18,193 cases were reported to the police last year, he explained – a drop of 1.7 percent compared with 2013.

Haveeru reported Waheed as saying that theft – the most reported offence – was considerably lower than it had been over the past five years.

However, police statistics show that while reports of theft in 2014 had dropped compared to 2012 and 2013, they were still higher than in the three preceding years. Reported theft in 2014 was 26 percent higher than in 2009.

Comparing 2014’s figures with 2009, there were increased reports of robbery (4.9 percent), drug offences (32.6 percent), and domestic violence (69 percent). Reported cases of assault dropped between 2009 and 2014 by 44 percent, while traffic accident reports fell by 18.4 percent, sexual offences by 15.7 percent, forgery and counterfeiting by 41.6 percent, and vandalism  by 42.3 percent.

Waheed also noted that two-thirds of the 3,139 drug-related cases in 2014 were reported outside of the capital, Malé, which is home to around one-third of the country’s population.

Waheed told media on Thursday that 50 Maldivians were thought to have travelled abroad for Jihad, while noting that the unresolved case of missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan had been the biggest investigation of 2014.

Source: Haveeru


Everything will change once Rilwan is found, police commissioner tells Haveeru

Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed has said that everything happening in Maldivian society would change if missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan were to be found.

In an exclusive interview with Haveeru, Waheed denied police negligence in the investigation while again refusing to reveal any specifics into the investigation’s progress.

“Saying that Rilwan hadn’t been found, I don’t believe any slips have been made in the investigation which would justify the accusation. But there are lessons to be learned with every investigation. We are learning the lessons,” he said.

Rilwan’s family yesterday lodged an official complaint with the Police Integrity Commission, accusing police of negligence in investigating the 28-year-old’s disappearance, as well as disrespect shown towards the family.

Waheed today repeated suggestions previously made by the home minister that non-governmental and media organisations were partially responsible for the apparently stalled investigation.

A reports commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network suggested radicalised gangs were the most likely culprits in the abduction 83 days ago. Police later dismissed the findings as irresponsible, though home minister has since acknowledged gang involvement in the disappearance.

“No one should think that we have forgotten about Rilwan’s case,” Waheed told Haveeru today.

“There are many different analyses. Considering the current progress of the investigation, and given that I manage investigative teams, I cannot, at the moment, give you 100 percent confirmation that a gang or group was involved in this.”

Asked if investigations had led police to believe Rilwan was still alive, Waheed only replied that they had found no evidence he was dead.

Numerous international group – most recently Amnesty International – have called upon police to expedite investigations.


Police honour retired Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz ahead of his move into politics

The Maldives Police Services held an event on Monday night honouring retired Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz.

“If the police are once again made to do political work, the leadership will doubtless fail again. The police institution must be larger than the government or any other entity,” Riyaz advised the hundreds of serving officers in attendance.

Riyaz – appointed after the controversial transfer of power in February 2012 – stated that his plans to move into a political career are in order to build trust in this area too.

“The police must not be seen to be an institution that just protects the government. The police is an institution that serves all citizens and implements lawful orders and norms. We have to be answerable to the government. We have to be accountable to the parliament”.

Riyaz stated that, when he had assumed responsibilities of the police commissioner on the night of February 8, 2012, the police leadership of the time had “failed and hence, people’s perceptions of the police had completely changed”.

He asserted that one of his first objectives after assuming the post was to ensure that the police was freed from all external influences and went back to working independently and professionally.

Riyaz further stated that police had remained steadfast in the face of wrongful allegations and perceptions of their work, while emphasizing that during his time as commissioner he had “never made a decision or issued an order with the intention of inflicting harm or harassment to any specific individual”.

“When Amnesty International released a report with false statements against us, I personally made a phone call to their president. In response to every one of these statements, we sent a statement clarifying the truth of the matter.”

“When I first took up the post, I was reluctant to even claim my pay as there was so much murder being committed. However, due to the work done unitedly, god willing we haven’t seen a major death this year,” Riyaz said.

February, 2012

Riyaz spoke in detail about his role in the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

The retired commissioner – who had at the time been relieved of his duties as a police officer – stated on Monday night that he had gone there on the day with “good intentions because [he] could not bear to sit home and watch the situation the police and soldiers were in”.

He added that he had contacted both the current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz via phone prior to going there.

Stating that he had prioritized national interest above all, Riyaz claimed that he had accepted the post of police commissioner because his country needed him.

“Police were desiring a leadership that would not issue unlawful orders. Many asked me why I was going back to this institution, including my wife. But I decided that I cannot turn my back to the nation at the time it needed me most.”

Riyaz ended his speech by “seeking forgiveness from any police officer of citizen I may have inconvenienced during my time as commissioner of police”.

“Although I am leaving behind life as a police officer and entering politics, I will always defend this institution. There is no institution I can love as much as I do the police.”

He added that Vice Presidentv Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had been the first to advise him to enter the political arena.

Appreciation from the state

“The happiest day that I have come across so far is the day when a new president was elected on November 16, the second round of the presidential election. What made me happiest about it is that we were assured that a government has been established which will not undermine or disrespect important state institutions like the police, the military, the judiciary and other entities,” he said.

“And that this is a government which will protect the religious unity of this nation and ensure that expensive state assets are not sold out to foreign companies,” he continued.

“The fact that Maldivian citizens voted in a Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives government proves that the events that happened on February 7 [2012] was not a coup d’etat,” he stated.

Other speakers at the event, including Vice President Jameel, Home Minister Umar Naseer and current Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed commended Riyaz for his work.

Home Minister Umar described Riyaz as an assertive and sharp-minded officer who had brought commendable development to the institution.

Current Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed stated that Riyaz had stood up to defend the police institution even when faced with “immense pressure, criticism and threats against [police officers’] families”.

“Even as police were referred to with various hateful names, and even some officers’ lives were taken, our brother Riyaz was working tirelessly in our defence.”