Maldivian Democratic Party on Tuesday night held a march around the capital island Male’ calling for judicial reform ahead of the next hearing of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s trial, scheduled for November 4.
Over 500 protesters marched around Male’ with banners and placards displaying messages on the importance of judicial independence and holding the judiciary accountable.
A number of leading MDP figures joined the march, including former Minister of Environment and Housing Mohamed Aslam, MP Ilyas Labeeb, former Ministers of Education Shifa Mohamed and Musthafa Lutfi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem and former Minister of Home Affairs Hassan Afeef.
Some of the messages on the banners observed by Minivan News said: “Do not destroy justice for the sake of political gain” and “No one will benefit through spoiling the judiciary.”
The protest march began in front of the MDP office on Sosun Magu and protesters walked on the streets of Male’ despite the rainy weather. The march stopped at some street junctions where party leaders gave speeches to the gathered crowds. Speakers included Musthafa Lutfi and Shifa Mohamed.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said that a main focus of the protest was asserting that the judiciary too must be held accountable.
The three judges presiding over the Nasheed case have continued to refuse to attend parliament committee meeting despite repeated summons.
Trial against Nasheed
On October 9, the police presented Nasheed to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court for the first hearing on the case concerning his arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
After the first hearing, Nasheed was released from custody, though they maintained the previously imposed travel ban, requiring him to get a special permission from the courts prior to any travelling.
Nasheed alleged that the Prosecutor General’s sole purpose was to bar him from contesting in the upcoming presidential elections, stating, “If, as the President of the Maldives I arrested the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, then it is not as small a crime as is stated in Article 81 (of the Penal Code). The Prosecutor General’s only objective is to ensure that I cannot contest in the next presidential elections. To do so, he has identified an article which would provide just the required period of detention to cancel my candidacy.”
Nasheed’s legal team has previously raised concerns about the trial, stating that case proceedings were against laws and norms. They raised questions about the legality of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court and procedural issues with the three judge panel presiding over the case.
While the next hearing has been scheduled for November 4, two among Nasheed’s lawyers have been barred from court.
Meanwhile, following an application for a temporary injunction by Nasheed’s legal team, the High Court has declared that it will hold the next hearing of the injunction case on the same day coinciding with Nasheed’s next hearing at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.