Former Defense Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim was sentenced on March 27,2015 for an 11-year jail term on charges of harboring a concealed weapon in his residence. In the two odd years that had passed since then, the investigation and the case had been tried both in the Courts and in the public eye, with the two reaching two very starkly different conclusions. This was also reflected in the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruling on the case.
The investigation into the weapon found in Nazim’s apartment was concluded within a month. The trial was concluded in a month. Observers did note the investigation and trial were carried out at lightning speed. The former Defense Minister throughout the whole process said over and over again that he had been framed. Neither the prosecution nor the judiciary took this claim into account.
In the trial, Nazim had presented 50 witnesses as part of his defense. Only three were summoned to the Court. He had been denied access to 26 pieces of documentation, time and resources to prepare his defense.
This is a summary of the Criminal Court proceedings. In the High Court appeal, the Court allowed the defense to bring forth an additional 11 witnesses. However, the Court had failed to reflect on these additional witnesses when arriving at a verdict.
Nazim’s defense then filed the case in Supreme Court for appeal. A preliminary hearing was held, in which Supreme Court upheld High Court verdict and threw out the case.
Both Criminal and High Courts had noted that if the weapon did not belong to Nazim, then it should belong to another and as such, it was up to Nazim to produce that individual. The state prosecutors add as the weapon was discovered in his residence then Nazim, as the owner of the residence, must be responsible for the weapon. The defense was able to draw a line toward the additional suspect the Court was asking to produce in order to prove Nazim’s innocence. Analysis on the weapon did not yield fingerprints of either Nazim or any of his family members. However, the DNA of former Tourism Minister, and later on Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb was discovered. The analysis was carried out by the Police, not Nazim’s family. The DNA report was shared with Prosecutor General as well. The report was in PG office when Supreme Court expedited the case and threw out the case.
With the Supreme Court, having refused to accept the one piece of evidence that would prove Nazim’s innocence, all local legal avenues for Nazim had been shut off. Having exhausted all legal avenues, Nazim’s family decided to file the case in United Nations. An impartial review of the case proved what the Courts had deliberately decided to ignore. The review proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nazim was innocent, jailed on false claims and deprived of his basic rights. The Group called on the Government for Nazim’s immediate release and to pay damages for the time he had spent in jail.
Both the Constitution and the laws of the country demand that the Government abide by the international accords and agreements. Maldives is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Universal Declaration on Human Rights were referred to by the UN. UN stated that Nazim had been deprived of the fundamental rights granted under these two accords. However, in spite of growing and damning evidence against the verdict, the Government had staunchly refused to heed the calls and admit their mistakes.
As we are human, we are prone to mistakes. It is therefore, expected that this would apply to individuals tasked with carrying out the various procedures in the judicial justice system. In the event, a gross miscarriage of justice is seen, it is up to the justice system to rectify the said issue and make amends for the issue. This is demanded both in the Constitution and in Islam.
In spite of all this, as well as the mounting evidence against the verdict, the Government much like a petulant child in a fit of a tantrum, refuses to see the errors. Using the props of national security, an independent judiciary and national integrity, the Government seems determined to flaunt any and all decisions issued on the former Defense Minister. This, however, shows an inability to accept and rectify wrong doings. The true mark of strength comes from doing the opposite.