Two Maldivian men were found guilty last week of smuggling 24kg of heroin into the Maldives in March 2014 and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The criminal court on Monday also imposed a fine of MVR100,000 (US$6,500) each on Abdulla Sofwath and Ismail Moosa.
The 24kg of heroin was seized from a dinghy near Hulhumalé in a major operation that lasted for several days. As of June last year, it was the largest drug haul from a police operation in the country’s history.
The street value of the drugs was estimated to be worth MVR 100 million (US$6.5 million).
The drugs were found concealed under fibre boards in a dinghy. According to the police, it was smuggled into the Maldives in a vessel registered in Iran named Hormuz.
Sofwath and Ismail were the only ones to stand trial of the 18 suspects taken into custody, including 11 Pakistanis, four Maldivians, and three Bangladeshis.
The Pakistanis were later deported and the other suspects were released due to lack of evidence.
The trial of the two Maldivians concluded in May 2016 with both the prosecution and defence presenting closing arguments.
The prosecution told the court that the dinghy was registered under Sofwath and Ismail’s names whilst witness testimonies prove that both men collected the drugs from the Iranian boat.
Call recordings from Ismail’s phone were also submitted as evidence to show that he was an accomplice.
A piece of paper was found in Sofwath’s pocket with GPS coordinates and the phone number of Ismail’s wife, the prosecution noted.
Sofwath also told the police during the investigation that the drugs were smuggled to pay off his debts.
The defence lawyer meanwhile contended that there were glaring contradictions in the witness testimonies. He also argued that the phone recording was inadmissible as it was obtained without a court warrant.
But Judge Abdul Bari Yousuf ruled that the prosecution’s evidence was sufficient to prove guilt.
Convictions in high-profile drug trafficking cases are rare in the Maldives.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent