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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