Adeeb framed Nazim after fallout over Malé City’s Areca palms, lawyers claim

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb threatened to “destroy” former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim two months before police raided the retired colonel’s apartment and discovered a pistol and bullets, Nazim’s lawyer has alleged.

Presenting the defence’s opening statement at today’s hearing of Nazim’s trial on charges of weapons possession, Maumoon Hameed claimed Nazim had found out in October last year that Specialist Operations (SO) police officers chopped down the city council’s areca palm trees on Majeedhee Magu on orders from Adeeb.

Upon learning that the defence minister had complained to President Abdulla Yameen of the incident, Hameed claimed Adeeb called and threatened Nazim in a conference call with Home Minister Umar Naseer.

Hameed said Naseer had expressed his displeasure regarding the threats in a text message to President Yameen.

The police professional standards command subsequently discovered that money was deposited to the bank accounts of the SO SWAT team officers, Hameed claimed.

Hameed said the SO officers learned of Nazim’s objections to the president and bore animosity towards the then-defence minister, alleging that the same officers involved in chopping down the areca palm trees comprised the SWAT team that raided Nazim’s apartment in the early hours of January 18.

Fabricated

During the opening statement, Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf repeatedly interrupted Hameed, advised the lawyer not to mention persons not involved in the case, and asked what the allegations had to do with the charges.

Hameed said the basis of the defence was that the evidence against Nazim was “fabricated” in order to “frame” him, alleging that Adeeb – also deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – had planned and orchestrated the setup.

Hameed told the press last week that a police forensic report shared with defence lawyers stated that fingerprints lifted from the weapon did not match either Nazim or any of his family members.

Adeeb had also called Nazim two days before the raid and asked where he lived and how many rooms were in his apartment, Hameed continued, noting that Adeeb had previously been to the apartment for tea.

Judge Bari suggested that Adeeb could have forgotten the address.

Shocked

Speaking to Minivan News today, Adeeb said he was “very shocked” to hear of the serious allegations, which he dismissed as “all lies” and “very weak”.

Adeeb said he regretted that the trial was becoming “politicised” and suggested that the ex-colonel’s lawyer and not Nazim himself was responsible for the allegations.

Nazim was a close friend, he added, and the pair had discussed official matters up until the former Defence Minister’s arrest.

Adeeb noted that Nazim did not mention any of the allegations at a press conference after his dismissal from the cabinet.

Hameed did not have any experience in criminal defence, Adeeb continued, suggesting that he might bear a grudge for not being appointed Prosecutor General last year.

In July 2014, parliament approved Muhthaz Muhsin as PG after PPM MPs decided to endorse the former Criminal Court judge despite the party’s leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, urging ruling party MPs to vote for his nephew Maumoon Hameed.

Hurried trial

State prosecutors will present anonymous testimony by three officers involved in the raid, a crime scene report by police officer Mohamed Areef, a report on the weapons authenticity by MNDF’s Mohamed Nazeem and a confidential letter from the army stating the pistol and bullets did not belong to the state.

Confidential documents from a pen drive confiscated from Nazim’s apartment will also be presented to show the former Defence Minister harbored the intent to use and was capable of using the pistol, state prosecutor Adam Arif said.

Further evidence includes a statement by Nazim in which he “admitted” the police had discovered the weapons in his presence, Arif continued.

The Prosecutor General’s Office is also awaiting analysis of DNA samples lifted from the weapons, he added.

Hameed, then contended the state had filed charges without completing a full investigation, and appealed to judges’ to dismiss the state’s case.

Noting the Constitution declares any evidence obtained unlawfully as inadmissible, Hameed once again pointed to what he called several irregularities during the police raid.

Judge Yoosuf, however, told Hameed to focus on the content of the evidence, stating the bench had taken note of the defence’s concerns.

The Criminal Court gave Nazim three days to submit evidence in his defense, and denied a request to review its decision to keep the former Defence Minister in police custody until the end of the trial.

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Palm trees used by MDP to curse President Yameen, alleges senior government official

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were using areca palm trees planted in Malé by the city council for black magic to curse President Abdulla Yameen with ill health, an anonymous senior government official has alleged.

“The palm trees were planted with black magic,” the unnamed official told newspaper Haveeru today, claiming that the sorcery or black magic was the reason for the main opposition party’s concern and preoccupation with the felling of the trees in the early hours of October 24.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged that masked Specialist Operations (SO) police officers in plainclothes chopped down the palm trees with machetes.

Patrolling police officers from the Maafanu police station arrested two of the perpetrators, Nasheed told the press on Tuesday (October 28), claiming that the suspects were handed over to the SO on the orders of a senior official from the SO command.

The pair were taken to the police Iskandhar Koshi barracks on an SO vehicle, he claimed.

Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed held a press conference yesterday and denied police involvement in the incident, dismissing the opposition leader’s allegations as “baseless”.

Haveeru meanwhile claimed to have learned that the palm trees were cut down because senior government officials believed the MDP was using the trees to practice black magic.

The local daily claimed that senior members of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) believe that the trees were planted for use in black magic or sorcery, noting that several areca palm trees were uprooted during anti-government protests in January 2012.

The MDP-dominated city council planted the palm trees – donated by the Indian High Commission – in October 2011 as part of efforts to make the capital greener.

President’s health

Haveeru also referred to rumours of President Yameen undergoing brain surgery in Singapore to remove a tumour following his most recent unofficial trip to the country.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz had dismissed the rumours as false and assured that the president and first lady were in good health, after MDP leader Nasheed had questioned Yameen’s absence from the country.

A close associate of President Yameen told the newspaper that the president did not seek treatment for a brain tumour.

Instead, the associate claimed, the president sought treatment for infections caught during his Hajj pilgrimage and had to be admitted at a Singapore hospital.

The anonymous government official said the president’s close associates believe that black magic or sorcery using the palm trees were responsible for the president’s ill health.

The associates advised President Yameen that the palm trees were the cause of his health problems, the senior official said.

“[They] believe that [President Yameen’s] health worsens with every palm frond that falls off the areca palm trees. And that his health would worsen further with every tree that blossoms,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying.

The official further claimed that the housing ministry had sent a letter to the home ministry requesting the trees be taken down.

“Those who [chopped down the trees] did it because the home ministry wouldn’t,” the president’s close associate told the local daily.

“This has to be done for the sake of national security as well. That is the palm trees can be taken down when the head of state’s life is in danger,” he was quoted as saying.

“President Yameen got relief when the palm trees were cut down. And the black magic is being exposed by the MDP’s actions, isn’t it? Less than 24 hours after the palm trees were cut down, [MDP MP Reeko] Moosa [Manik] announced he would contest in the [MDP’s presidential] primary.”

Allegations supported

Police officers have also told Haveeru on condition of anonymity that former President Nasheed’s allegations were true.

“We were on duty that night. The police command said masked men were cutting down the trees,” a police officer claimed.

A second police source alleged that the two or three groups of officers from the SO SWAT who cut down the trees were wearing SO balaclavas or masks.

“The Maafanu police caught two groups. They caught one on Lily Magu and he fell when they struck him on the back,” the police source alleged.

Credible sources have corroborated the claims to Minivan News, revealing that the incident has caused a rift between the SO and capital police commands.

In May 2012, police raided the MDP’s Usfasgadu protest camp over “suspected black magic performed in the area.”

The search warrant obtained from the Criminal Court alleged that on May 25 “MDP protesters threw a cursed rooster at MNDF officers.”

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