The Maldives High Court overruled a lower court verdict on Tuesday, citing police procedural flaws in the case, and freed a drug dealer who had previously been sentenced to life in prison (25 years).
Ismail Nahidh, of Valuge, Dh. Hulhudheli, is accused of smuggling Diamorphine in the amount of 4.38g. In 2016, he was apprehended in a police narcotics bust after police intelligence received information that drugs were being smuggled by boat from capital Male’ to Dh. Hulhudheli.
Following the drug operation, a charge of Diamorphine trafficking was filed against him in the Hulhudheli Magistrate Court, where he received a life sentence (25 years in jail) and an MVR 100,000 fine.
The Hulhudheli Magistrate Court ruling, however, has since been overturned as a result of Nahidh’s appeal to the High Court. The High Court decision cited errors committed by the police throughout the investigation phase of the case.
The court further noted that the police issued a legal warning on the initial charges brought against him. These include paddling cannabis, paddling Diamorphine, cannabis use, Diamorphine use, and drug use in general.
However, following further investigations, the police charged Nahidh with Diamorphine trafficking. The High Court noted that the accused was not provided with a legal notice and was not told his rights, which included the right to remain quiet and the right to counsel on the new accusation. The court further stated that there is no evidence of an investigation into the extra charge because a second legal warning was not issued.
The High Court emphasized that it is a requirement of the legal procedure that the accused be given a legal warning before being questioned, which the police failed to do in the extra charge. The court went on to say that the rights indicated in the legal warning are fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Maldives, and that the accused was denied such rights. As a result, the court ruled that he could not be convicted, overturning the lower court’s verdict.