Alleged drug dealer released due to police procedural failure

Officers of Maldives Police Service handling confiscated items | Photo: Maldives Police Service

Malé, Maldives – The High Court on Tuesday, overturned the lower court verdict, highlighting police negligence in the matter, and released a drug dealer who was previously sentenced to 25 years in jail.

The alleged is Ismail Nahidh, Valuge, Dh. Hulhudheli. He was arrested back in 2016 in a police drug bust after information received by intelligence that drugs were being smuggled from Malé to Hulhudheli via a boat. The police confiscated 4.38 grams of Diamorphine during the drug operation.

Following the drug operation, the case was presented to Hulhudheli Magistrate Court where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison along with a fine of MVR 100,000.

However, the lower court decision has now been overturned following the High Court verdict after the alleged appealed to the higher court.

The High Court verdict noted mistakes made by the police during the investigative phase of the case.

The court noted that the police gave the legal warning on the initial charges raised against him. These include, paddling cannabis, paddling Diamorphine, Cannabis usage, Diamorphine usage and also the usage of another drug.

However, Police later raised an additional charge of Diamorphine trafficking after further Investigations. The court noted that the alleged was not given a legal warning and read his rights, giving him the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer on the additional charge. The court added that there is no proof of investigation on the additional charge as a separate legal warning was not given.

The High Court noted that it is a part of the legal procedure that the alleged must be given the legal warning before questioning and that the police failed to do so in the additional charge. They added that the rights mentioned in the legal warning are essential rights provided by the Constitution and that the alleged was deprived of those rights. Therefore, the court decided that he cannot be convicted, overturning the lower court decision.