Ex Defense Minister Nazim’s wife presses “malicious prosecution” charges against PG Muhsin

Former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim’s wife has pressed civil charges against Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin for “malicious prosecution” over a now withdrawn illegal weapons charge.

Afaaf Abdul Majeed and Nazim were summoned to the Criminal Court on February 25 over the discovery of a pistol and three bullets during a police raid on their apartment on January 18.

But state prosecutors requested the three judge panel to withdraw charges against Afaaf, claiming documents on a pen drive confiscated along with the weapons had brought to light new information.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Afaaf’s family member Ismail Hameed said Muhsin had made an unjust accusation against Afaaf. Her complaint filed under Article 75 of the 1968 Penal Code was submitted to the Civil Court today.

Article 75 penalizes unjust accusations made with the intent of harming or hurting an individual with a fine no more than MVR200 (US$13).

Afaaf was not aware she was under suspicion for illegal weapons possession until she received the court summons. The police had questioned her only once on the controversial weapons find, her lawyer has previously said.

Nazim’s family alleged the weapons were planted in order to frame the then- Defense Minister, a claim the police have denied.

Lawyer Maumoon Hameed on Monday said the decision to withdraw charges against Afaaf demonstrated that Muhsin could not be trusted to protect the former Defense Minister’s rights as the accused, including the PG’s constitutional responsibility to asses evidence presented by investigating bodies before pursuing charges and overseeing the legality of preliminary investigations.

State prosecutors were also forced to change charges from illegal weapons possession to importing and possessing illegal weapons midway through Monday’s hearing when Hameed pointed out an error in the charge sheet.

Further, some of the 13 anonymized police statements presented as witness statements were dated a year back, Hameed contended. The police had also claimed to have discovered an improvised explosive device in the black bag, but had made no mention of it in court, he added.

He then asked judges to hold a public and open trial in a larger courtroom to ensure Nazim’s rights are protected. Presiding Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf refused the request, saying the trial was already public as ten reporters and six members of the public were allowed to observe the trial.

The police on February 10 arrested Nazim on additional charges of terrorism and treason, claiming the documents in the pen drive indicated he was plotting to overthrow the government and harm state officials.

However, Hameed said the police had not questioned Nazim even once during the 15 day remand.

Before the remand expired, the Criminal Court placed Nazim in pre-trial detention until the illegal weapons trial concluded.

Nazim’s family in a statement last week urged the international community to step up pressure on President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, claiming “there is no hope that Nazim can expect a fair trial” due to a “notoriously politicized judiciary.”

“Nazim never expected to be where he is now. But he has fallen foul of a political conspiracy, one in which powerful forces within the Maldivian government have sought to destroy him and thus prevent him from challenging for the leadership of the ruling party,” Nazim’s family explained in a letter to the international community.

Related to this story:

Evidence against Nazim consists only of 13 anonymised police statements

Ex-Defence Minister calls for an open, public trial

No hope for fair trial, says former defense minister’s family

Nazim accused of conspiring with Villa group to harm state officials

Ex defense minister’s wife charged with illegal weapons possession


Ex-Defence Minister calls for an open, public trial

In a letter to President Abdulla Yameen, former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has appealed for open and public hearings in an ongoing illegal weapons trial.

The retired colonel alleged his charges were based on fabricated evidence and said he has no confidence that Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin would uphold his constitutional rights.

Article 223 of the Constitution states the PG must assess evidence presented by investigating bodies before pursuing charges, oversee legality of preliminary investigations, and review the circumstances and conditions under which any person is arrested or otherwise deprived of freedom prior to trial.

“I cannot depend on the Prosecutor General to uphold his constitutional responsibilities. Hence, I believe the only means to ensure my rights are defended is a just trial open to the public,” he said.

Nazim was arrested on February 10 on treason and terrorism charges after police discovered a pistol and three bullets in the then-defence minister’s bedroom during a raid on January 18.

At a first hearing on a separate illegal weapons possession trial, state prosecutors alleged Nazim had conspired with opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group to harm senior government officials, according to documents found in a pen drive confiscated during the police raid.

Some of the documents are to be kept confidential, state prosecutors have said. Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed has described the move as one that would obstruct the former minister’s right to a free and fair trial.

“We will not be able to respond to any of the confidential documents, which hampers his right to justice. We will object to this, and we will do everything within our means to protect Nazim’s rights.”

The Criminal Court at a subsequent hearing cited national security reasons, and ruled Nazim be held in police custody until the trial’s conclusion.

In today’s letter, Nazim offered to bear the expense for a public trial at the Dharubaaruge Convention Center in Malé if the state was unable to do so.

He noted the state had held public trials at Dharubaaruge over the 2003 Maafushi Jail custodial deaths and the 2005 terrorism charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The largest courtroom at the Criminal Court, used for Nazim’s trial, only accommodates twenty members of the public, including journalists.

Pointing to the thousands of opposition supporters who had marched on the streets of Malé on February 27 urging President Yameen to release all political prisoners, Nazim said a public trial was in the public interest.

Nazim’s family in a statement last week urged the international community to step up pressure on President Yameen’s administration, claiming, “there is no hope that Nazim can expect a fair trial” due to a “notoriously politicised judiciary.”

“Nazim never expected to be where he is now. But he has fallen foul of a political conspiracy, one in which powerful forces within the Maldivian government have sought to destroy him and thus prevent him from challenging for the leadership of the ruling party,” Nazim’s family explained in a letter to the international community.

The Maldives Police Services have denied planting evidence and framing the former minister, insisting officers had acted professionally during the midnight raid.

The government has maintained the arrests and charges against Nazim demonstrate “no one is above the law,” and say it has no influence over the trial, claiming charges were initiated by an independent Prosecutor General and tried through an impartial judiciary.

On February 24, Nazim filed civil charges against PG Muhthaz Muhsin, alleging the office had failed to protect the former minister’s constitutional rights.

Nazim’s lawyers on February 12 filed defamation charges at the Civil Court and a complaint at the Police Integrity Commission against the Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed for spreading false information.

Waheed at a press conference following Nazim’s arrest said the police had found an improvised explosive device in a bag confiscated from his apartment.

But lawyers say a police document detailing items confiscated from Nazim’s apartment right after the raid did not list an IED.

Related to this story:

No hope for fair trial, says former defense minister’s family

Nazim accused of conspiring with Villa group to harm state officials

Ex defense minister’s wife charged with illegal weapons possession

Nazim remains in custody as High Court rejects appeal

Former Defence Minister Nazim remanded for 15 days

Police deny framing Nazim as former Commissioner alleges politicisation

No forensic evidence against Nazim, says legal team


Nazim accused of conspiring with Villa group to harm state officials

State prosecutors have accused former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim of conspiring with opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group to harm state officials.

At today’s first hearing on an illegal weapons charge, State Prosecutor Adam Arif said documents on a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s house during a January 18 raid show the former defence minister was planning individual and joint operations, financed by the Villa group, to cause bodily harm to “senior honourable state officials.”

The pen drive was confiscated along with a pistol, live bullets and an improvised explosive device during the early morning raid, police have previously said.

Presiding Judge Sujau Usman denied Nazim legal representation at today’s hearing stating the Prosecutor General’s Office had not yet decided which documents from the pen drive were to be kept confidential and which were to be made public.

However, Nazim’s lawyer Maumoon Hameed was allowed inside the courtroom as an observer.

The former defense minister pleaded not guilty. Judge Usman gave Nazim three days to re-appoint a lawyer and answer charges. He is to be kept in police custody until the trial ends.

Nazim’s trial comes amidst heightened tension in Malé. Former President Mohamed Nasheed is also in police custody pending a verdict in terrorism charges over the military detention of a Criminal Court Judge in January 2012. Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party and Gasim’s JP formed an alliance shortly after the weapons find at Nazim’s house and have pledged to overthrow President Abdulla Yameen’s government.

Nazim’s wife, Afaaf Abdul Majeed, was also in court today on the same charges. But Arif told the court the PG’s office was withdrawing charges, claiming the confidential documents had brought to light new information.

Obstacle to justice

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, Hameed said the state’s decision to present confidential documents present “a major obstacle in ensuring a fair trial for Nazim.”

“We will not be able to respond to any of the confidential documents, which hampers his right to justice. We will object to this, and we will do everything within our means to protect Nazim’s rights.”

According to Hameed, the court has not yet provided lawyers with any case documents on charges against Nazim or Afaaf.

“We believe there is no basis to charges against Colonel Nazim’s wife, in the same vein, we believe there is no basis to prosecute Nazim as well,” he said.

Afaaf was sent a summons to attend today’s trial on Monday, despite having received no indication she was under suspicion for possessing illegal weapons.

When the trial began, she was sitting next to Nazim at the defence stand, but was later transferred to the observer stand.

When Nazim left the courtroom he passed by the observer stand, and said to his family, “your mother is now free.”

“My freedom alone won’t do,” Afaaf replied.

Hameed said the Criminal Court in a separate remand hearing ruled Nazim posed a threat to society and must be kept in police custody until the trial ended.

Hameed said he would appeal the ruling as well as a February 11 ruling in which Nazim was remanded for 15 days on additional charges of treason and terrorism.

Despite the controversial weapons find on January 18, the police made no moves to arrest the former minister, and Nazim continued to fulfil his ministerial duties the next day.

President’s Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali at the time told media that President Abdulla Yameen continued to have “full confidence” in Nazim.

The following day (January 20) Nazim was dismissed. On February 9, police submitted files to the PG Office requesting charges be pressed against Nazim for illegal weapons possession.

Within hours, at 12:30am on February 10, police arrested Nazim on new terrorism and treason charges.

The former minister’s defence team said the weapons were planted at his residence, alleging police officers spent ten minutes inside Nazim’s apartment alone after they herded the retired colonel and his family into the living room.

The former Police Chief Abdulla Riyaz claimed Nazim is being framed.

Police have repeatedly denied framing Nazim, describing allegations as a “baseless” attempt at discrediting the force.

Despite Nazim’s detention on new charges, the police have not questioned the former minister even once, Hameed claimed.

State prosecutors did not offer substantive evidence to either arrest Nazim or keep him in detention, Hameed contended.

The allied opposition parties have described the state’s prosecution of Nazim and Nasheed, as well as alleged economic sanctions against Gasim as part of President Yameen’s plan to establish authoritarian control.

The government, however, claims it has no influence in the charges against Nasheed and Nazim, stating the trials were initiated by an independent Prosecutor General and tried through independent courts.

Related to this story

Ex defense minister’s wife charged with illegal weapons possession

Nazim remains in custody as High Court rejects appeal

Former Defence Minister Nazim remanded for 15 days

Police deny framing Nazim as former Commissioner alleges politicisation

No forensic evidence against Nazim, says legal team

Police raid Defence Minister Nazim’s home in early hours


Nasheed’s constitutional rights violated in three year trial, says legal team

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team has called on Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin to drop criminal charges, claiming the opposition leader’s constitutional rights had been violated for three years on pending “unlawful” charges.

Muhsin on Monday withdrew charges against all former government and army officials accused of detaining Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed for further review. The withdrawal came amidst Nasheed’s challenge of the process by which judges were appointed to an extraordinary bench to oversee his trial.

The offense carries a maximum jail term of three years under Article 81 of the Penal Code, but will carry a reduced sentence in the new Penal Code scheduled to come in to force in April.

“President Mohamed Nasheed’s charges have been pending without a verdict for three years. In those three years, he has been deprived of his constitutional and legal rights and the trial has affected his political career,” said Nasheed’s lawyers in a letter to the PG.

Nasheed was first summoned to court in 2012, but the trial was stalled in 2013 when the High Court began to review the composition of the bench. After a two-year hiatus, the High Court on February 9 threw out Nasheed’s complaint, paving the way for the trial to restart at the Hulhumalé magistrate court.

However, the former president’s legal team immediately launched a new challenge at the Civil Court. Meanwhile, the Maldivian Democratic Party accused the PG of attempting to expedite the case before the enactment of the new Penal Code in order to bar Nasheed from contesting the 2018 presidential polls.

Nasheed’s lawyers today contended the PG is not authorized to take up the charges in court for a second time.

MDP has describing the case among many “unjust obstacles to the party and President Nasheed.” Further pursuit of the case only “serves the government’s political agenda” the party claimed.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest led to daily protests on the streets of the capital, culminating in a police and army mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation on February 7.

Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim, a key figure in Nasheed’s ouster, has called on the state to drop charges, describing charges as “out of line with national and public interest.”

In January, the MDP and JP formed an alliance against President Abdulla Yameen’s claiming his administration has repeatedly violated the constitution.


PG considers blocking pornographic websites in the Maldives

Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin has said that the office is considering demanding that internet service providers in the Maldives block pornographic websites.

Speaking to Avas, Muhsin said pornographic websites are blocked in most Islamic countries and that the Maldives should follow suit.

“This is how it is in the lot of Muslim countries. We are thinking of doing the same in the Maldives,” Muhsin told Avas.

According to current laws and regulations, possessing and distributing pictures or videos with pornographic content is illegal in the Maldives.

Last year, nine underage students were arrested in Feydhoo School in Addu City for the possession of pornographic pictures and videos while a man was sentenced to six years of imprisonment for possessing pornographic material.

Source: Avas


PG orders Elections Commission to reprimand MDP for resolution on transfer of power

Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin has ordered the Elections Commission (EC) to take all legal action possible against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for its “irresponsible” resolution calling for Jumhooree Party’s Gasim Ibrahim to assume the presidency as an interim leader.

In a letter to EC President Mohamed Sulaiman, Muhuthaz said MDP’s call “is not the best for public order” as the Constitution clearly states how a head of state is elected and how the president’s powers may be delegated.

The decree proposed by MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed during a severe water shortage in the capital Malé called on President Abdulla Yameen to hand over the reigns to Gasim.

Speaking to the MDP’s national council on December 7, Nasheed said: “The country is under a very dark cloud at the moment. The president is not fulfilling presidential duties and ruling in absentia. So it is better for him to handover governance to Gasim Ibrahim.”

Gasim polled third twice in last year’s presidential elections – successfully requesting the first vote be annulled before again finishing behind Yameen and Nasheed in a rescheduled poll. Gasim eventually threw his support behind Yameen, forming a coalition that saw the latter win the presidency before relations soured earlier this year.

President Yameen had been out of the country during when a fire at Malé’s desalination plant cut off water to the city’s 130,000 residents on December 4. He returned from Malaysia two days into the crisis.

Nasheed has repeatedly suggested Yameen’s frequent trips out of the country may be due to ill health and has called on the President to inform the public of his health.

Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) on December 8 said the MDP’s resolution “irresponsible and cowardly.”

“At a time when the government is carrying out urgent efforts to resolve the water shortage in Malé, this party believes that the [MDP resolution] is an activity planned by the MDP leadership to disrupt the country’s peace and security as well as the unity among Maldivians,” read the statement.

The PPM also characterised the national council decision as an “undemocratic and uncivilised” attempt to topple a legitimately elected government.

When asked about the MDP council’s resolution, Yameen on December 7 responded by saying “I do not pay much attention to what Nasheed’s says on such matters.”

Nasheed has also highlighted deteriorating public safety – with at least five fatal stabbings this year, and the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan as a further reason for a changing the government.

The government’s failure to investigate and prosecute serious crimes is tantamount to “deliberate state-sponsored terrorism,” he contended in a statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

He has also accused senior government officials and elements of the police of complicity in abductions, murder, arson attacks, and gang violence.

“I note that the government has not investigated such incidents that have occurred throughout the year and serious criminals are on the loose. The state has not pressed charges against them,” the statement read.

Nasheed argued that the government’s inaction has caused harm and undermined fundamental rights, calling on the public to “find courage from each other for justice and stand up against inhumane torture.”

Local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) earlier this week, however, included the MDP’s call for Yameen’s replacement in a list of what is considered a growing trend of instances undermining democratic practices and institutions.

The other issues cited by TM were the removal of two Supreme Court judges this week, and the reappointment of the auditor general in November.

Related to this story

MDP calls on the government to hand power to JP leader Gasim

PPM condemns MDP’s “unlawful” resolution for handover of presidency to JP Leader Gasim

Transparency Maldives notes “grave concern” over undemocratic trends


Case of unauthorised imam sent to prosecutor general

Police are reported to have concluded investigations into an imam accused of giving unauthorised sermons at Malé’s Dharumavantha Mosque.

Sun Online reports that the case has been sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office after a 34-year-old man was taken into custody for leading an independent prayer congregation on September 30.

He stands charged of of “attempting to incite religious strife and discord,” said police, and leading prayers without authorisation from the Islamic ministry in violation of the Protection of Religious Unity Act of 1994 and regulations under the law.

Home Minster Umar Naseer has pledged to stop the congregation meeting at the mosque. The gatherings, deemed “extremist” by the Islamic Minister, have continued even after being temporarily shut down in February by Malé City Council.

Reports that police had arrested worshippers at the mosque earlier this month were denied by police, however, who accused media outlets of attempting to mislead the public.

In April, President Abdulla Yameen ratified amendments to the Religious Unity Act – which came into force mid-July – outlawing independent or unauthorised prayer congregations. The amendments will also bring all mosques under the central administration of the Islamic ministry from November 1.

The penalty for violations of either the law or the regulations is a jail sentence of between two to five years.


Mohamed Saleem appointed as deputy prosecutor general

Mohamed Saleem has been appointed as deputy prosecutor general at a meeting held at the Prosecutor General’s Office today.

He was appointed to the position by the current prosecutor general (PG) , Muhthaaz Muhzin.

Mohamed Saleem, who has been a staff of the PG’s Office for six years used to be the head of the prosecution department of the office. After completing his Master’s Degree in Law in New Zealand, Saleem has been working in related fields for eight years.

The former deputy PG, Hussein Shameem, resigned in May after accusing the Criminal Court of obstructing justice. Shameem had been holding the position of acting PG since the resignation of former PG Ahmed Muiz in November 2013.


Majlis approves Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin for prosecutor general post

The People’s Majlis has today approved Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin for the post of prosecutor general (PG).

Muhsin’s nomination for the role – vacant since November – received 62 votes in favour, and seven votes against, while 12 MPs abstained.

President Abdulla Yameen had nominated Muhsin and his nephew Maumoon Hameed for parliamentary approval on June 2. As Muhsin’s name was put to a vote first and approved, Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed did not call a vote for Hameed.

Thirteen MPs of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also voted in favour of Muhsin.

They were Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam, Felidhoo MP Ahmed Marzooq, Hithadhoo South MP Ali Nizar, mid-Hithadhoo MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, Hulhuhenveiru MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Komandoo MP Ahmed Nashid, Kulhudhufushi North MP Abdul Gafoor Moosa, Kurendhoo MP Abdul Bari Abdulla, Addu Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef, mid-Henveiru MP Ali Azim, Mulaku MP Ibrahim Naseer, Vaikaradhoo MP Mohamed Nazim, and Velidhoo MP Abdulla Yameen.

While the Jumhooree Party (JP) decided today that its 12 MPs would abstain in the vote, JP MP for Kendhoo Ali Hussain voted in favour of Muhsin.

MDP MP for Alifushi, Mohamed Rasheed Hussain ‘Bigey’, joined the remaining 11 JP MPs in abstaining while all seven MPs who voted against Muhsin belonged to the opposition MDP.

The MDP parliamentary group had reportedly decided last night to issue a three-line whip against Hameed and to give its 23 MPs a free whip to vote as they chose for Muhsin.

With 20 MPs in attendance at parliamentary group meeting last night, the proposal by Deputy Speaker Moosa Manik was passed with 13 votes in favour.

Meanwhile, at a parliamentary group meeting on Saturday (July 19), MPs of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) decided to endorse Muhsin despite the party’s leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, urging ruling party MPs to vote for his nephew Maumoon Hameed.

Majority Leader MP Ahmed Nihan confirmed to Minivan News that a three-line whip was also issued for PPM MPs to vote for Muhsin.

All PPM MPs in attendance along with MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) voted in favour of approving Muhsin as the new PG.


Maumoon Hameed and Muhthaz MuhsinMaumoon Hameed has meanwhile 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.”

Responding to the post, former MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed alleged that PPM MPs on the independent institutions oversight committee were instructed to award zero percent to Hameed and 100 percent to Muhsin  during the vetting process.

Following evaluation of the nominees at a closed session based on academic qualifications, experience, and competence, the oversight committee awarded Hameed 33 percent and Muhsin 67 percent and decided against recommending either nominee for approval.

In a letter to PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Nihan demanding an explanation of the PPM-majority committee’s decision, Gayoom had contended that the committee meeting where the nominees were interviewed was conducted in violation of parliamentary rules.

In the wake of the PPM parliamentary group’s decision to vote for Muhsin, MDP MP Rozaina Adam meanwhile tweeted, “Could President Yameen publicly humiliate President Gayoom more than this? Yameen’s choice is very clear.”

Vacant PG post

Rozaina also alleged that Yameen had conspired for the previous parliament to reject Maumoon Hameed in April by ensuring that several PPM MPs would be absent for the vote.

Several pro-government MPs – including Nihan who was with President Yameen in Japan and MDA Leader Ahmed Siyam – were conspicuously absent at the sitting, which saw  Hameed fail to garner the required 39 votes after falling just three votes short.

According to Article 221 of the Constitution, “The President shall appoint as Prosecutor General a person approved by a majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis from the names submitted to the People’s Majlis as provided for in law.”

Following the previous parliament’s rejection of Hameed, President Yameen refused to submit a new nominee and opened up a third call for applicants, announcing his intention to nominate Hameed for a second time to the newly elected 18th People’s Majlis.

The PG’s post has been vacant since November 25 following the resignation of Ahmed Muiz ahead of a scheduled no-confidence motion in parliament.

Meanwhile, Acting PG Hussein Shameem’s resignation in early May brought the criminal justice system to a halt after state prosecutors went on strike, citing concerns of a lack of accountability in the absence of a PG.

However, the Supreme Court ordered prosecutors to resume work “without any further excuse” and ordered the seniormost official at the PG office to assume the PG’s responsibilities.