Drug trafficking life sentence overturned on irregularities

Drug trafficking life sentence overturned on irregularities
August 19 16:31 2015

The High Court on Tuesday overturned a man’s life sentence on drug trafficking charges on the grounds that the accused was not allowed to respond to the prosecution’s evidence.

In its ruling, the appellate court said Ramiz Ahmed, from Janavareemaage in Laamu Isdhoo, was “deprived of the fundamental constitutional right” to examine the evidence or testimony against him.

The criminal court reached a guilty verdict based on a police report that stated the defendant’s fingerprints were found an envelop containing illicit narcotics. However, Ramiz was neither informed of the report nor offered an opportunity to respond to its contents.

Ramiz was arrested along with another man on September 5, 2010 from a residence in Malé. The police found three rubber packets with 329 grams of heroin. The pair also tested positive for cannabis.

The High Court, however, noted that the prosecution’s witness testimony did not establish that Ramiz had rented the room where the drugs were discovered.

In March, the criminal court sentenced former President Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in prison after a 19-day trial that was widely criticised over its apparent lack of due process.

The opposition leader’s lawyers had objected to insufficient time to prepare a defence whilst the three-judge panel had also refused to hear defence witnesses.

The prosecutor general has since appealed the terrorism conviction at the High Court.

In late July, the Supreme Court acquitted a convicted drug trafficker citing irregularities similar to that raised by Nasheed’s lawyers.

In the unprecedented ruling, the apex court said the accused was not given access to a lawyer or the opportunity to call defence witnesses.