Six senior government officials abused power in drug kingpin’s temporary release, says ACC

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has recommended charges be filed against six senior government officials for the temporary release of convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak in February.

Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Hanim personally paid a visit to a doctor at their home to obtain a signature claiming Shafaz required urgent medical care abroad.

However, the ACC found no evidence to suggest Shafaz required urgent treatment or care unavailable in the Maldives. Shafaz had not consulted a doctor at all in the week before his release.

Hanim, who is now the deputy minister of environment, also oversaw the illegal preparation of Shafaz’s travel documents and allowed him to leave the country without obtaining approval from the Maldives Correctional Service’s (MCS) medical board.

The investigations also revealed former Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim lobbied the medical board to approve Shafaz’s release despite knowing his paperwork was incomplete.

In addition to Hanim and Azim, the ACC has recommended corruption charges be filed against two members of the medical board, a technical officer at Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and a staff of the MCS.

Shafaz was caught in Sri Lanka in May in a joint operation by the Maldivian and Sri Lankan security forces when he failed to return to the Maldives in the three-month period he had been given.

The Criminal Court had in November 2013 sentenced the 30-year-old to 18 years in prison and had levied a fine of MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking.

Deputy Minister’s abuse of power

According to the MCS’s regulations, an inmate can only be allowed abroad for medical treatment if two doctors attest that the inmate requires urgent care that is not available in the Maldives.

The MCS’ medical board must then review the doctors’ referrals before endorsing the release.

According to the ACC, Chief Superintendent of Malé Prisons Mohamed Thaufeeg, on Hanim’s request, illegally entered the medical section and printed the forms required for Shafaz’s release.

Thaufeeq had entered the medical section’s premises in the absence of the officer in charge.

Hanim and Thaufeeq then paid a personal visit to a doctor at their home on February 2 to obtain signatures. Local media have identified the doctor to be Indian national Dr Ganga Raju.

The forms require signatures of two doctors, but a senior technical officer at IGMH, Abdulla Rafiu, filled in the second slot.

Hanim sent a letter to the Department of Immigration ordering Shafaz’s travel documents be prepared although such letters must in fact be sent by the individual who heads the Home Ministry’s Implementation Section.

The letter was prepared and dispatched before the medical board and the Commissioner of Prison’s approved Shafaz’s release.

When the head of the Implementation Section refused to allow Shafaz to leave Maafushi Jail on February 5, Hanim himself authorized the release.

According to the ACC, Hanim attempted to complete the paperwork only after Shafaz left the country.

Medical board’s role

The medical board met on February 4 to review Shafaz’s request for temporary release.

The board noticed only one doctor had signed his forms and that the forms did not provide details on Shafaz’s medical conditions or the type of treatment he was to receive abroad.

However, Azim assured the board that the proper paperwork would be submitted at the next meeting. Board members, Maldives Police Services Chief Inspector of Police Dr Mohamed Fazneen Latheef and Home Ministry’s Deputy Director General Ishaq Ahmed, supported the inmate’s release.

Fazneen admitted to the ACC that the medical board had not released any inmate without complete paperwork in the past, and said he believed he had failed to uphold the board’s stringent standards in supporting Shafaz’s leaving the country.

Azim only signed the medical board’s final approval after Shafaz had left.

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.



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Extradited drug kingpin Shafaz brought to Malé

Convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak – caught in Sri Lanka’s capital city Colombo on Tuesday – has now been transferred to the Maldives’ capital city Malé.

After being sentenced to an 18 year jail term, Shafa was temporarily released in February for three months to seek medical treatment in Colombo.

After his failure to return during the allocated time period which ended on May 5, Shafaz was arrested in joint operation between Maldives and Sri Lankan security personnel.

Earlier in April, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer pledged to extradite Maldivian offenders from whichever country they were in.

“No offender should delude themselves into thinking that they can flee from the Maldives and peacefully live elsewhere. That cannot be done.”

“The first topic of discussion that I take up with leaders, Home Ministers and police leaders of every country I travel to is that in the instance there is a runaway Maldivian offender in the country, they should arrest them immediately and turn them over to the Maldivian authorities,” he said at the time.

Shafaz currently remains under police custody, but will be transferred to the Maldives Correctional Services.

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Convicted drug kingpin Shafa caught in Colombo

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.

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Drug kingpin Shafaz must return from Sri Lanka in May, says Home Minister

Convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak must return from medical treatment in Sri Lanka by May 20, Home Minister Umar Naseer has said.

Shafaz’s temporary release in early February has garnered controversy with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) confiscating the passport of an expatriate doctor who signed the medical report recommending that Shafaz be sent abroad for medical treatment.

Shafaz is serving an 18 year prison sentence and was fined MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking in November 2013.

Speaking on Villa TV (VTV), Naseer said Shafaz’s authorized period to stay abroad will expire on May 20 and that the Home Ministry will seek assistance from the Interpol to find any inmates who flee.

Naseer defended the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS), claiming a prisoner will only be sent abroad on the recommendation of two specialist doctors. The MCS would only provide inmates with a temporary travel document instead of a passport, he claimed.

Shafaz has now appealed his 18 year jail term at the High Court.

Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim has previously told Minivan News that all due procedures had been followed in Shafaz’s release.

“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.

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.

Since the formation of the new government late last year, the Home Ministry has made the combating of illegal drugs its top priority, culminating in the confiscation of a record 24kg of heroin.

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Doctor’s passport held as drug kingpin’s medical release investigated

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has confiscated the passport of an expatriate doctor who signed the medical report recommending that Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzaq be sent abroad for medical treatment.

Shafaz was sentenced to 18 years in prison last November for drug trafficking, but was permitted to leave the country unaccompanied in February. Shortly after his arrival in Sri Lanka, Shafaz asked the High Court to review his sentence.

The ACC has told the local media that the doctor’s passport was held last week after a warrant had been obtained  from the Criminal Court.

Speaking to Minivan News today, President of ACC Hassan Luthfy said that he could not give any information except to confirm that the passport of an expatriate doctor had been held by the commission.

He said that detailed information on the case will be revealed to the media as soon as the commission concludes its investigation.

Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim has previously told Minivan News that all due procedures had been followed in allowing Shafaz to leave to get medical treatment.

“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.

Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011 with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by PPM 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’.

Jihah 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.

Since the formation of the new government late last year, the Home Ministry has made the combating of illegal drugs its top priority, culminating in the confiscation of a record 24kg of heroin.

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Drug kingpin appeals sentence from Sri Lanka

The ringleader of a nationwide drug network who is currently in Sri Lanka for medical treatment has asked the High Court to review his 18-year jail term.

Ibrahim Shafaz ‘Shafa’ Abdul Razzaq, 32, of Maafannu Lonumidhilige was sentenced to 18 years in prison and fined MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking in November.

Shafaz’s departure to Sri Lanka caused a furor in local media last week with newspaper Haveeru claiming the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) were not informed of a date for the inmate’s return. An MCS officer did not accompany Shafaz, the local daily reported.

Opposition aligned broadcaster Raajje TV alleged Shafaz was not listed in the immigration control system as a convict when he boarded the midnight flight with his family.

But High Court procedures say appellants in criminal cases must be present in the courtroom for trials to proceed.

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim said all due procedures had been followed in allowing Shafaz to leave to get medical treatment.

Article 70 and 110 of the new Jails and Parole Act states the Commissioner of Prisons may release an inmate to seek medical treatment abroad, on the advise of a medical board, if such care is not available in the Maldives.

“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.

Although an inmate is given a maximum three-month period for treatment, the duration may be extended if documents prove further care is required.

“Shafaz’s family is required to keep us informed through daily reports,”Azim said.

Operation Challenge

Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011 with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by PPM MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.

Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department (DED), Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long “Operation Challenge.”

Jihah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.

The traffickers had been using an authorised money changer called A J Emporium to transfer funds to Sri Lanka, Jinah revealed.

The drugs were believed to have been smuggled via Sri Lankan Airlines.

Jinah claimed that the network smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.

Police also discovered that Shafaz had bought a shop named ‘Charm’ for MVR150,000 (US$9700) that was sold in June 2011 for MVR200,000 (US$12,970).

Moreover, Shafaz was renting three apartments in Malé and owned a tailor shop bought for MVR200,000 (US$13,000), a shop in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi, and a Suzuki Swift car worth MVR180,000 (US$11,673), later sold for MVR170,000 (US$11,025).

As Shafaz was not in the room with the drugs at the time of the raid and his fingerprints were not found on the confiscated drugs, the Criminal Court ruled last year that there was not enough evidence to convict Shafaz on one count of the drug charges.

However, he was found guilty on the second count based on recorded phone conversations and financial transactions with a contact in Colombo, believed to be the supplier.

Three of Shafaz’s accomplices who were caught with the opiates and packing equipment – Ismail Shaheem, Mohamed Meead, and Anas Anees – were meanwhile found guilty of possession and trafficking and sentenced to ten years in prison.

In a speech a few days after the drug bust, former President Mohamed Nasheed said he found it “quite shocking [that] 800 packets of heroin a night were getting sealed in the house of an honourable member of parliament.”

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Female resort worker dies after being hit by dive boat propeller

A 27 year-old female resort worker died yesterday after she was hit by the propeller of a diving boat near the island of Hinmafushi.

Police said Aishath Safa, who worked as a telephone operator at the Four Seasons Kudu Huraa resort 20 minutes from Male’, was hit by the propeller while on a diving excursion after the boat pulled over to pick up another person in the water.

Four Seasons Kuda Huraa issued a statement confirming the incident, and noting that the police investigation was ongoing.

“The Senior Management of the resort extends it deepest sympathies and has offered its fullest support and assistance to the family of Ms Aishath Safa,” the statement read.

The resort stated that Safa was a certified Open Water diver and had joined the afternoon dive session on her day off from work.

During a rally last night former President Mohamed Nasheed expressed sorrow over Safa’s death and praised her contribution to campaigning for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“Safa was a young woman who worked in numerous ways for the MDP and reform in the Maldives. May God grant her Paradise and give patience to her family,” Nasheed tweeted.

The incident is the fourth serious accident involving a boat propeller this year, and the second fatality.

On June 1, a German woman on honeymoon at Reethi Beach Resort suffered serious leg injuries after she was hit by the propeller of a dive boat.

A 51 year-old Italian woman died on January 31 while snorkeling near Elaa Island in Thaa Atoll, suffering major head injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller.

An 18 year-old Maldivian man was also seriously injured trying to disentangle a fishing line from a dhoni propeller on April 23.

Nauf Ibrahim was hit in the head by the propeller and suffered serious injuries including a skull fracture and internal bleeding. He was taken to Laamu Atoll regional hospital and later transfer to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) helicopter.

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Police arrest stabbing suspect Sharufan and three others

Police have located and arrested 19 year-old Sharufan Abdul Razaq Ahmed of Lonumidhilige, after calling for public assistance to locate the suspect in a recent double stabbing.

Police said that the four were arrested Tuesday night at 11:00pm while they were inside an apartment on the first floor of Nikoshia house in Maafannu ward.

Police stated that the other three were arrested on allegations they assisted Sharufan to hide from police.

According to police, the three arrested included two males aged 32 and 27, and a 20 year-old female.

Officers obtained a search warrant for the premises and discovered evidence related to the crime, police said.

According to local media, the three arrested in the apartment included Sharufan’s brother Ibrahim Shafaz of Lonumidhilige in Maafannu ward. Shafaz was arrested in 2011 after police labelled him a drug lord.

Shafaz and the 20 year-old woman were released yesterday when they were taken before the Criminal Court for extension of detention. The court however granted a 15-day detention period for Sharufan.

Police said the operation to arrest the suspects was conducted by its special task force recently established to combat the rise in gang related crimes in Male’.

Police had earlier appealed for public assistance in locating Sharufan, alleged that on May 18 at 3:25 pm he stabbed two people near the junction where Chanbeyly Magu meets Haveeree Hingun.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that the two people injured in the attack were still in a serious condition.

Razzaq has a prior criminal record, according to local media, after he allegedly entered Nalahiya Manzil House in Henveiru Ward in January 2010 with a companion and stabbed a person inside the house.

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