Ex-defence minister, ex-MP ordered to return to Maldives in 48 hours

Ex-defence minister, ex-MP ordered to return to Maldives in 48 hours
April 18 13:41 2016

The prisons authority has ordered former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim to cut short his medical leave in Singapore and return to the Maldives within 48 hours to serve the remainder of his 11-year jail sentence.

The Maldives Correctional Services informed Nazim’s wife in a letter today that the family’s request for an extension of the retired colonel’s medical leave has been rejected.

If Nazim fails to return in the next two days, the MCS will “begin work to bring him back,” reads the letter signed by Superintendent of Prisons Ibrahim Mohamed Didi.

Commenting on the MCS order, Nazim’s brother-in-law Ismail Hameed said: “I can guarantee you that Nazim will not flee and is now forced to comply with orders to return, without having completed his treatment.”

Nazim’s family does not believe that the MCS properly evaluated medical documents submitted on his behalf before denying the request for a three-week extension, Hameed told The Maldives Independent.

According to Nazim’s lawyer Husnu Suood, the retired colonel is yet to undergo surgery.

MCS spokesman Hassan Ali refused to comment specifically on the decision. The commissioner of prisons has the final say in granting such requests, he said, declining to comment further.

Nazim left for Singapore in late March after the MCS granted a 21-day medical leave for  the treatment of deteriorating eyesight, cardiac issues, and varicose veins.

However, a week before the 21-day period expired, the home ministry ordered Nazim to return to the Maldives on April 2. The order came after the ex-defence minister was photographed speaking with jailed former MP Ahmed Nazim in Singapore.

The former defence minister was found guilty of weapons smuggling and sentenced to 11 years in prison in March last year. Nazim has maintained that he was framed by rogue police officers acting on the orders of then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

A week before he left for Singapore, the High Court upheld his conviction. Nazim’s trial in March last year drew widespread criticism over apparent due process violations.

In February, Amnesty International petitioned the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Nazim’s behalf, seeking a judgment declaring his jailing illegal.

The MCS has also ordered former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim – who was also granted medical leave to undergo treatment in Singapore –  to return to the Maldives within 48 hours.

Multiple credible sources told The Maldives Independent earlier this month that Nazim has fled to the UK after the home ministry rejected a request to extend his medical leave.

But the immigration department claimed last week that the former MPs’ passport remains with the government.

He had traveled to Singapore on December 10 for a spinal surgery with a temporary travel document.

The ex-deputy speaker of parliament – formerly a close associate of President Abdulla Yameen before a falling out in early 2014 – was handed a 25-year jail sentence on corruption charges by the Supreme Court in April last year.