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‘Political prisoners’ awaiting permission to travel abroad for medical care

Families of former President Mohamed Nasheed, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim and former MP Ahmed Nazim are petitioning the state to allow the three to travel abroad for medical care. Nasheed requires a backbone surgery for slipped discs, lawyers said today.



Family members and lawyers of three jailed high-profile politicians, including former President Mohamed Nasheed, have complained over state negligence in providing access to medical care.

Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim were brought to Malé this week for consultations with the doctor, while former MP Ahmed Nazim remains hospitalized, awaiting clearance from the Supreme Court to go abroad for a surgery of the spine.

Nasheed and ex-minister Nazim’s families have also requested the Maldives Correctional Services to allow the pair to travel abroad for a surgery of the spine and for deteriorating eye sight, respectively.

Moosa Rameez, the MCS spokesman, said he was saddened by the complaints of delays: “We face the same difficulties the public faces in getting doctor’s appointments. The hospitals do not reserve numbers for MCS. We also have to stand in queue, sometimes throughout the night.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed

Nasheed, who is serving a 13-year jail sentence on a terrorism charge, was brought to ADK hospital on Sunday morning to consult with a neurosurgeon. He had undergone an MRI scan of his backbone in late September.

In a press conference today, his lawyers said that doctors have recommended a micro discectomy, a backbone surgery to relieve pressure on spinal nerves due to slipped disks.

“This is a keyhole surgery to treat injuries inflicted on President Nasheed when he was jailed for a period of over six years on separate occasions, during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime,” lawyer Hisaan Hussain said.

Family members have not been informed of the details of Sunday’s visit or given medical records, she said. The opposition leader is not being allowed to exercise as recommended by the doctor, she added.

Nasheed’s family and lawyers have now requested the home ministry and to allow Nasheed to travel abroad for surgery as recommended by the doctors.

Rameez confirmed that the doctor had recommended a surgery, “but the report says this surgery can be done in the Maldives.” There are legal processes the MCS must follow, such as clearance from the state-owned Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, to authorize and inmate to travel abroad, he said.

An appeal of Nasheed’s terrorism conviction is now before the Supreme Court.

Former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim

Nazim, serving an 11-year jail term on a weapons smuggling charge, was meanwhile brought to the ADK Hospital this morning for a consultation with a physician.

His brother-in-law Ismail Hameed told the Maldives Independent that the MCS was not allowing Nazim to see a specialist.

“Nazim is having several health complications including deterioration of his eye sight, heart problems and also varicose [budging and twisting of large veins, especially of the leg]. Recently a varicose vein had burst but MCS refuses to let a specialist doctor see him.”

In mid-September, the MCS granted Nazim leave to seek treatment in Singapore, but family members have asked to be allowed to travel to India instead.

“Singapore is very expensive. The state healthcare scheme Aasanda does not cover hospitals there,” Ismail said. The family has now submitted a list of hospitals covered by Aasandha and is awaiting a reply.

Nazim’s appeal, which stalled halfway through in June, restarted at the High Court last week.

Former MP Ahmed Nazim

Nazim, a former associate of President Abdulla Yameen, was admitted at IGMH on November 10. He is serving a 25-year jail sentence on corruption charges.

According to his lawyer Fareesha Abdulla, Nazim had previously undergone two backbone surgeries and is being treated now for severe back pain. He is experiencing numbness of the limbs, because of a lack of physiotherapy and regular exercise.

“Doctors have recommended he be flown abroad for further treatment and MCS has given the necessary permissions. However, he was unable to leave to Singapore last night as scheduled since the department of immigration had seized his passport on orders from Supreme Court in early February of this year,” she explained.

Rameez from the MCS said they have asked the Supreme Court to remove the block on Nazim’s travel documents.

Nazim was sentenced by the Supreme Court.