DNA tests have established a link between former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and a pistol seized from former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s home, the police confirmed tonight.
The explosive findings have been taken widely as evidence that Adeeb ordered rogue police officers to frame Nazim. However, the police were quick to stress that the breakthrough did not “conclusively” prove a set-up.
The retired colonel has already spent more than 18 months in jail on a weapons smuggling charge. He was handed an 11-year sentence last April in a trial condemned as grossly unfair.
The police’s midnight admission wrapped up a night of high drama that also saw Home Minister Umar Naseer’s resignation.
It is not clear if the prosecution will reconsider its case against Nazim as the prosecutor general’s office was not responding to queries for comment.
The supreme court is currently hearing an appeal.
Stressing that it was prosecutors who would make a decision on the way forward, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Abdulla Nawaz, said the police will forward the findings to the prosecutor’s office tomorrow.
“We do not decide if he was framed or not. That is established through the courts. Even if there is a DNA match, that does not conclusively say that the items are linked only to a particular person,” he said. He added that tests show a second unknown person had also handled the weapon.
Nawaz’s comments prompted a barrage of questions by the press over political influence, criminal misconduct and incompetence by the police, and ignited a firestorm of criticism online, with many questioning how a former minister could be jailed on an incomplete investigation.
The senior officer, however, insisted the police had followed standard procedure, claiming the decision to file charges lay solely with the prosecutor’s office
“What we do is after we investigate, we send what we have at that particular point of time, the findings of our investigations, to the prosecutor general. That is what we did in this case as well.
“We share information with the Prosecutor General’s office as and when we receive new information… In light of this [report], we do believe we have more work to do.”
He avoided questions on whether the police had looked into the defence’s claim that the police’s SWAT officers had planted the pistol at Nazim’s home.
The defence claims a policeman named Asif was responsible for planting the weapon, and accused the former police chief Hussain Waheed of playing a key role in the set-up.
Despite the defence noting there is no evidence to link the weapons to Nazim, prosecutors say he must bear responsibility as the bag containing the pistol, bullets and a bomb was found in his bedside drawer.
Nazim’s arrest was a key trigger in the breakup of the ruling coalition, and helped set off the multiple crises that continue to roil the Maldives today.
The raid on his home had coincided with Jumhooree Party’s split with the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives and subsequent alliance with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.
Shortly afterwards, former President Mohamed Nasheed was arrested and jailed for 13 years on a terror charge. His 19-day trial set off historic protests against President Abdulla Yameen’s regime and led to the jailing of more opposition figures.
Adeeb, who was the tourism minister at the time of Nazim’s arrest, went on to become the vice president later that year. But he has now been impeached and jailed on terror charges for plotting to assassinate Yameen.
Earlier this month, Nazim, Nasheed and Adeeb formed a new coalition called the Maldives United Opposition to oust Yameen.
Oh apparently prosecuting people based on incomplete investigations and partial evidence is standard procedure.
— Naail (@kudanai) June 21, 2016
@PoliceMv just admitted their incompetence and lack of integrity put someone in jail for 11 years
— FreeRN (@Thzyn) June 21, 2016
Investigation hasn’t concluded, but the guy is already in prison for 11 years.
— Yameen Rasheed (@yaamyn) June 21, 2016
@PoliceMv plants evidence to frame innocent people Prosecutor General prosecute them with incomplete investigations life in Maldives sucks
— Aisthu (@aisthu) June 21, 2016
Additional reporting by Xiena Saeed and Hassan Moosa