The prisons authority has granted permission for former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim to travel overseas for medical treatment.
The Maldives Correctional Services this week approved a 15-day medical leave for the retired colonel to undergo a heart surgery in Singapore.
“MCS’s medical board granted permission for Nazim as the heart surgery he required is not available in Maldives,” spokesman Moosa Rameez said.
He added that Nazim and his family can decide when they want to leave for the surgery.
“The two week period will start from the day he leaves,” he said.
Nazim’s family members and lawyer Husnu Suood were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
In mid-September Nazim was given permission to travel to Singapore for health complications related to his kidneys and eyes. But Nazim’s family had sought approval to travel to India instead.
“Singapore is very expensive. The state healthcare scheme Aasanda does not cover hospitals there,” his brother-in-law told The Maldives Independent last month.
Nazim faces several health complications, he said, “including deterioration of his eye sight, heart problems and also varicose [budging and twisting of large veins, especially of the leg].”
Nazim had been brought to Malé for consultations with doctors on numerous occasions since his arrest in February.
He was sentenced to 11 years in prison after a rushed trial in March that drew widespread condemnation over apparent lack of due process. Nazim maintains he was framed by rogue police officers acting on the orders of then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.
Nazim’s appeal hearings meanwhile resumed at the High Court on December 3 after a five-month hiatus. The appeal had stalled in June when the Supreme Court transferred two judges on the five-judge panel to a newly-created regional branch in the south.
After summoning witnesses last week, a final hearing is due to take place tomorrow. During Nazim’s trial in March, the criminal court had refused to call all but two of the 37 defence witnesses, claiming some were not relevant while others could not negate the prosecution’s case.
At a previous hearing, Nazim’s lawyer Husnu Suood asked the High Court to consider sentencing Nazim under the new penal code if judges decide to uphold the criminal court’s verdict.
Under the new penal code, the punishment for weapons possession is a jail sentence not exceeding one year. Nazim would have served a one-year prison sentence by April next year.
But state prosecutors contended that the new penal code is irrelevant in Nazim’s case as it came into force after he was convicted.
During the first appeal hearings in June, Nazim’s lawyers highlighted several lapses in due process, including the criminal court’s refusal to call defence witnesses, discrepancies in testimony by anonymous police officers, and the police’s alleged failure to follow the law and standard procedures in the midnight raid.
The human rights watchdog had also questioned police conduct during the 3:00am raid. The failure to videotape the raid “raises questions about the actions of police officers,” the Human Rights Commission of Maldives had said in July.