Remand of Indian drug trafficking suspect extended by 30 days

Criminal Court of the Maldives on February 15, 2021. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Criminal Court has remanded an Indian woman who was caught attempting to smuggle MVR 9 million worth drugs into the Maldives from Ethiopia in police custody for 30 days.

She was remanded in custody for 30 days during a remand hearing on Thursday following the expiration of her initial remand.

She was first remanded in custody for three days during a hearing without a translator. Referencing the factor at a later hearing, Criminal Court ordered the appointment of the translator to proceed with the case. Her remand was extended on three further occasions without a translator. The court orders with respect to these extensions stressed difficulties faced by the woman in communicating with her lawyer due to the absence of a translator.

There were difficulties in appointing a translator as the woman did not speak English or Hindi.

However, Thursday’s remand hearing, as per the court order, proceeded with a translator.

The drugs were seized during an investigation prompted by intelligence information received to customs regarding an attempt to smuggle a large quantity of drugs into the Maldives via air.

In this regard, the drugs were discovered on a 56-year-old Indian woman who traveled to Maldives from Ethiopia back in April. Cocaine was seized from the woman’s handbag while heroin was seized from her luggage.

The cocaine seized from the handbag weighed 1.18 kilos while the heroin seized from the luggage weighed 4.2 kilograms. Combined, their street value is estimated at MVR 9 million.

A regulation that came into force in January provides the Controller of Immigration with the discretion to deny entry to foreigners arriving in the Maldives via air who are discovered with drugs. They include circumstances where it is suspected that drugs are stored in the passenger’s luggage or where intelligence has been received that the passenger is using Maldives as a transit point to transport drugs or the passenger is going to traffic drugs into the Maldives.