Nasheed’s sentence was commuted to house arrest before state decision to appeal

Questioning the state’s decision to appeal a terrorism conviction against former President Mohamed Nasheed, lawyers revealed today that the opposition leader’s 13-year jail sentence was commuted to house arrest on July 19.

“The government of the Maldives has permanently moved President Nasheed to house arrest for the balance of his 13-year term in prison,” the opposition leader international lawyer Jared Genser told reporters in Colombo this afternoon.

The Maldivian high commission in Sri Lanka confirmed the move to AFP. Nasheed’s domestic legal team told Minivan News the decision had been communicated in writing.

The PG office announced the decision to appeal the guilty verdict yesterday amidst rumours that President Abdulla Yameen will pardon Nasheed in exchange for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) backing for several crucial votes in parliament.

Speaking at a press conference in Malé today, lawyer Hassan Latheef said the legal team believes the government has exerted undue influence over the PG to appeal the case in a bid to appease growing international pressure.

The European parliament, the British prime minister, the US secretary of state, the UN Human Rights Council and various international organisations have called for Nasheed’s release, Latheef noted, adding that the legal team had expected the former president to be pardoned as a result of talks.

But President Yameen could now “tell the international community that President Nasheed’s case is out of his hands,” Latheef suggested.

“We believe that there is intense foreign pressure on the government to release President Nasheed and the case was on President Yameen’s table. But we now believe that the government has sent the case to the prosecutor general’s table,” he said.

The government will be able to tell the numerous foreign diplomats expected to arrive in the Maldives to attend an official function to celebrate 50 years of independence on July 26 that Nasheed’s case has been appealed by the state, Latheef said.

Some diplomats would accept that the president could not intervene in the judicial process or grant clemency before the appeal process is exhausted, he added.

Latheef said the legal team will decide whether or not to participate in the “charade” following consultations with Nasheed’s international lawyers. The state’s sudden reversal of stance may affect ongoing talks between the opposition and the government, lawyers suggested.

Genser meanwhile told reporters today that he was denied a business visa to work in the Maldives last week and was told that he needed further authorisation from the Supreme Court certifying that he was licensed to practise law internationally.

“There is no Maldivian law, regulation, or rule that imposes such a requirement on applicants for business visas who are lawyers – it appears the Supreme Court specially designed this requirement just for me,” he said.

Genser is representing Nasheed along with Amal Clooney, the wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney, and Ben Emmerson, a UN rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights. The international lawyers have filed an appeal at the UN working group on arbitrary detention seeking a judgment declaring Nasheed’s imprisonment illegal.

Appeal

In a brief statement yesterday, the PG office said the decision to appeal the conviction was made based on concerns raised over due process in the trial and Nasheed’s request for the PG to appeal the conviction as well as his contentions over procedural violations, insufficient time to mount a defence, and inability to appeal due to the criminal court’s failure to provide a full report and transcripts of the trial within a 10-day period for filing appeals.

Lawyer Hisaan Hussain noted that Muhsin had repeatedly rejected requests for the state to appeal the conviction, insisting that Nasheed could file an appeal despite the lapse of a 10-day period and that the PG would not appeal a verdict in his favour.

The PG’s sudden reversal of stance while talks seeking Nasheed’s release were ongoing “raises questions about his purpose and intent,” Hisaan said.

Muhsin told the press in May that he believed Nasheed’s appeal had “a high possibility of being accepted at the high court since Nasheed is a former president, since it is related to a judge and since it is a terrorism charge.”

The Supreme Court had shortened the appeal period  from 90 days to 10 by striking down provisions in the Judicature Act a month before Nasheed’s arrest on February 22.

Last month, the High Court, citing lateness, rejected an appeal filed by the Prosecutor General over the acquittal of a defendant on murder charges.

On June 20, President Yameen rejected Nasheed’s appeal for clemency, urging him to exhaust all appeal processes first. The opposition leader’s lawyers say that the Clemency Act grants the president the discretion, on the president’s own initiative, to commute the sentence of any individual convicted of a criminal offence.

The next day, Nasheed was transferred to house arrest for eight weeks.

Shortly thereafter, the MDP and the government began talks on clemency for Nasheed and other jailed politicians as well as the withdrawal of charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters.

Opposition MPs subsequently backed the impeachment of vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel and a constitutional amendment setting new age limits for the presidency and vice presidency. The amendment allowed President Yameen to replace Jameel with the influential tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The MDP also issued a free whip on a second constitutional amendment to allow foreign freeholds in the Maldives. Some 19 opposition MPs, including ten MDP MPs, voted to pass the amendment.

At the fourth meeting of talks last week, MDP representative Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had suggested that Nasheed may be released before July 26.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention is meanwhile expected to rule on Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October. In a response to the UN, the government insisted Nasheed must appeal the sentence.

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Ex defence minister’s appeal underway

The High Court today began hearings into an appeal filed by ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim over a 11-year-jail term on weapons smuggling charges.

Nazim, who maintains he was framed by rogue police officers, highlighted several lapses in due process, including the criminal court’s refusal to call defence witnesses, discrepancies in testimony by anonymous police officers, and the police’s alleged failure to follow the law and standard procedures in the midnight raid on Nazim’s apartment.

The retired colonel was charged with smuggling weapons after masked police officers said they had discovered a pistol, three bullets, and a pen drive with documents detailing a plot to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen, inside a bedside drawer in Nazim’s apartment on January 18.

The rushed trial has been widely criticised for apparent lack of due process.

Five high court judges are presiding over Nazim’s appeal.

Presiding Judge Abdul Ganee Mohamed said hearings will be held daily, as agreed by Nazim’s lawyers and the Prosecutor General’s Office. Hearings are expected to conclude within the week and a verdict is expected soon.

Nazim was sentenced to jail on March 27.

He claims a team of Specialist Operations (SO) police officers had planted the weapons at his apartment on the orders of tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Adeeb and Nazim had fallen out over the tourism minister’s alleged use of police officers to commit criminal activities including the cutting down of all of Malé City’s Areca palms in October last year, Nazim has alleged.

Adeeb has denied Nazim’s claims.

At today’s hearing, Nazim’s lawyers said the criminal court issued search warrant was invalid as police officers had provided false information to obtain it.

The court warrant was issued based on information provided by a senior officer and  not based on intelligence reports, lawyers said.

While some police officers had said they did not know which floor they were to search for the weapons, another officer had testified in court that they were only instructed to search the eight floor of the apartment building, lawyers said.

The court warrant had authorized a search of the entire building. The discrepancies in police testimony on the floor to be searched showed they had lied to obtain the warrant and also demonstrated that the police were aware they would be searching the ex-defence minister’s apartment, lawyers said.

 

Nazim’s lawyers also said that criminal court judges prevented them from questioning the validity of the court warrant.

Police officers did not follow standard procedures during the raid on the apartment, lawyers said. A copy of the warrant was not provided to Nazim, and officers spent time unsupervised in Nazim’s bedroom before the search, they said.

Charges against Afaaf Abdul Majeed were dropped at the first hearing, claiming evidence from the pen drive indicated she had no connection to the weapons.

Lawyers argued charges should have been dropped against Nazim, too, claiming a police officer, who had conducted the analysis of the documents found in the pen drive, had said there was no evidence to suggest the weapons belonged to Nazim. The media was barred from the hearing in which the data analysis expert had testified.

Lawyers said they were blocked from mounting a defence because judges refused to call defence witnesses and because several key police witnesses were anonymous.

Noting discrepancies in testimony provided by police officers, Nazim’s lawyers accused them of lying under oath. Lawyers also accused public prosecutors of coaching witnesses, as they had admitted to meeting with witnesses before they appeared in court.

The criminal court prevented the ex-defence minister from making an independent analysis of the weapons and from collecting defence statements.

Public prosecutors will respond to Nazim’s appeal tomorrow.

Judges Abdul Ganee, Abdulla Hameed, Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya, Abbas Shareef and Abdul Rauf Ibrahim are overseeing Nazim’s appeal.

Two judges who oversaw Nazim’s trial, Abdulla Didi and Sujau Usman, were promoted to the High Court on June 8.

Nazim’s trial also coincided with a terrorism trial against ex-president Mohamed Nasheed. The opposition leader was sentenced to 13 years in jail on March 13.

He was tried by the three judges who oversaw Nazim’s trial.

The pair’s imprisonment has triggered a political crisis with daily protests from February through May, two mass demonstrations and hundreds of arrests.

Foreign governments, international organizations including the UN, and civil society groups have criticised the trials for apparent lack of due process. President Yameen, however, insists he has no constitutional authority to release the pair and says they must exhaust all appeal processes.

Nasheed’s lawyers were blocked from filing an appeal when the criminal court failed to issue the required case documents within a shortened 10-day appeal period.

The former president was temporarily transferred to house arrest today.

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PG awaiting court report to decide on appealing Jaleel acquittal

The prosecutor general’s (PG) office is awaiting a case report from the criminal court to decide on appealing the acquittal of defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel on terrorism charges.

The 10-day appeal period expired yesterday, but the PG media officer Hisham Wajeeh told Minivan News today that the High Court could accept appeals after the deadline if there is a valid reason.

“We only got the verdict. We couldn’t make a decision on the appeal without studying the points noted in the trial, which will be in the summary report,” he said.

The PG office will appeal if it believed there are valid grounds after studying the report, he said.

Five senior state officials were charged with terrorism and tried separately over the detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The court said there was insufficient evidence to prove the involvement of Jaleel, who was then-chief of defence forces.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed was meanwhile found guilty of terrorism last month and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Then-defence minister Tholhath Ibrahim was also sentenced to 10 years in jail over the judge’s arrest.

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Nasheed conviction “grossly unfair,” highlights “judicial politicisation,” says ICJ

The conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges was “grossly unfair” and highlighted “judicial politicisation,” the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) have said in a press release today.

The opposition leader was sentenced to 13 years in prison on March 13 over the “kidnapping or abduction” by the military of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

“The Maldivian judiciary’s independence has been compromised for years by serious pressure from the government, and this grossly unfair conviction highlights the numerous problems with the politicization of the judiciary in the country,” said Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“It is crucial for Maldivian authorities to allow Mr. Nasheed to appeal his case effectively, with transparency and monitoring by Maldivian and international observers.”

ICJ contended that trial was marred by “gross violations of international standards of fair trial, including Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Maldives acceded in 2006.”

Among the violations listed by the ICJ included two of the three judges presiding over the trial having testified in the 2012 investigation, denial of legal representation for Nasheed during the first hearing on February 23, and the denial to the defence team of both full access to evidence and state witnesses and the opportunity to consult with Nasheed.

Moreover, ICJ noted that the court denied Nasheed the opportunity to seek new representation after his lawyers quit in protest of the court’s refusal to grant sufficient time to mount a defence.

“The defence was also denied the opportunity to call its own witnesses,” the press release added.

Following Nasheed’s conviction, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News that the president could not “interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,”

“If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz insisted.

President Abdulla Yameen meanwhile called on all parties to respect the verdict and noted that the opposition leader has “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal.”

“The government calls on its international partners to engage constructively, based on mutual respect and dialogue in consolidating and strengthening democratic values and institutions in the country,” read a statement issued by the President’s Office.

Appeal

ICJ contended that Nasheed’s “right to appeal has been infringed by the unprecedented amendment of the statutory period for appeal from 90 days to 10 days, via Supreme Court circular six weeks prior to the trial.”

“In addition, the court has still not released to Mr. Nasheed’s defense team the full court record required to prepare and present an effective appeal within this accelerated timeframe,” the press release added.

It noted that the organisation has previously documented both the “politicisation of the judiciary” and the “polarised political climate in the Maldives, calling attention to a justice system characterised by vested interests and political allegiances rooted in the country’s authoritarian past.”

“Recent events reflect a justice system that still remains deeply politicised along the same lines of entrenched political loyalties that pre-date the transition period,” said Zarifi.

“The Maldivian judiciary must allow a proper appeal in this case if it is to establish itself as a separate and equal branch of the government dedicated to supporting the rule of law.”

The ICJ called on the government to ensure full acess and adequate opportunity for Nasheed’s lawyers to prepare an appeal, “and to ensure that the appeal proceeding is conducted fairly and transparently, with full access to media and domestic and international observers, in compliance with fair trial and due process standards under both Maldivian and international law.”

“The Maldives must also take effective measures to ensure that such violations do not reoccur in this or future cases,” the ICJ said.


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UN human rights chief expresses strong concern over “hasty and apparently unfair” Nasheed trial

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Nasheed to wait on appeal until Criminal Court provides full case report

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has decided to wait on appealing a 13-year jail term until the Criminal Court provides both a full transcript of court proceedings and sufficient time to prepare, despite a looming appeal deadline of Thursday (March 26).

The Criminal Court has so far only provided a judgment summary, and not a full case report as requested by lawyers.

The court today blamed the delay in issuing the full report on Nasheed and his lawyers’ alleged refusal to sign statements they had made during court hearings.

Another unnamed individual had also failed to sign off their statements, the Criminal Court said, adding that it could not release full proceedings without the required signatures.

“We hereby publicly announce that if there is a delay in releasing the detailed case report, it is not because this court has failed in its duty, but because Mohamed Nasheed and his lawyers have not cooperated with the court,” the court said in a statement.

But Nasheed’s lawyers said the former president had refused to sign the statements only because they contained serious errors, which they say the Criminal Court has so far refused to correct.

“For example, the statement of witness testimony from the Chief of Defence Force contains statements he did not make in court. Further, the Criminal Court omitted President Nasheed’s request for medical attention at the first hearing on February 23,” lawyer Hisaan Hussein told Minivan News.

She also noted the statements were not a transcript of all that was said at court, but a summary, which had resulted in omissions and paraphrasing of the actual comments.

In a statement issued today, Nasheed’s lawyers said the Criminal Court has been “repeatedly obstructing President Nasheed’s constitutional right to appeal and imposing administrative restrictions by failing to provide the court report to date.”

“The full case report would include the testimonies of prosecutor’s witness which was recounted by the Judge wrongly, submissions made regarding documentary evidence, closing statement submitted by the prosecution, detailed findings of the judges with reference to the evidences and conflicting rulings made on many aspects of procedural law which was contended during the trial.

“Additionally, since the first and last three hearings were conducted in the absence of legal representation, the arguments and submissions made by the prosecution regarding witness testimonies, documentary evidence and closing statement will be known only after we receive the full case report,” lawyers said.

A High Court appeal could be filed solely based on the judgment summary, but Nasheed’s lawyers said they would then only have the opportunity to argue within the parameters raised in the initial submission.

As issues contended in subsequent hearings would only be considered at the discretion of judges, it is imperative that Nasheed receives the case report to prepare his appeal, lawyers said.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed the Criminal Court is “using every procedural trick in the book to deny President Nasheed’s right to appeal.”

“The Criminal Court conducted a disgraceful and blatantly politicized trial, and now they are busy trying to hamper the appeal,” he added.

Nasheed was convicted of terrorism on March 13 over the January 2012 military detention of Judge Abdulla in a trial many international and domestic observers called a “travesty of justice.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Lawyers and Judges Gabriela Knaul last week urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial standards and observe due process, including adequate time for preparation.

The surprise trial began one day after Nasheed was arrested on February 22, and was completed after 11 hearings in 19 days.

“It is hard to see how such hasty proceedings, which are far from the norm in the Maldives, can be compatible with the authorities’ obligations under international law to conduct a fair trial,” Zeid said.

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Government invites international experts to observe Nasheed’s appeal hearings

The government has invited experts from the United Nations Secretary General, the Commonwealth, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Union (EU) to observe the appeal hearings of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison on March 13 over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.
“On behalf of the Government the invitation was extended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Dunya Maumoon,” read a press statement from the foreign ministry.
“President Mohamed Nasheed was sentenced on 13 March by Criminal Court of Maldives for abducting a sitting judge in 2012.”
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Hundreds urge Criminal Court to release Nasheed’s court proceedings

Hundreds of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters today urged Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed to release a transcript of court proceedings necessary for the appeal of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s 13-year jail sentence.

In a letter to Judge Abdulla, over a hundred signatories noted the ten-day appeal period would expire on Monday, March 23, and urged the court to release court proceedings without further delay.

The High Court subsequently informed Nasheed’s lawyers that the appeal period would expire on March 26 (Thursday).

Nasheed was convicted of terrorism on March 13 over the January 2012 military detention of Judge Abdulla in a trial many international and domestic observers called a “travesty of justice.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Lawyers and Judges Gabriela Knaul last week urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial standards and observe due process.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Nasheed’s lawyer, Hassan Latheef, said the Criminal Court had only provided a summary of the judgment, and said the full court proceedings were necessary for a strong appeal.

Latheef said the High Court’s decision to discount weekends in the new appeal period demonstrated the judiciary’s extraordinary treatment of Nasheed’s case.

The Supreme Court in January issued new regulations reducing the maximum period of appeal from 90 days to ten days. On March 5, in an announcement online, the Supreme Court said the ten day appeal did not include weekends or the day the verdict was issued.

The MDP has previously accused the Criminal Court of deliberately thwarting Nasheed’s attempts to launch an appeal. Meanwhile, the legal team in a statement last week noted the Criminal Court contravened the Supreme Court’s appeal regulations by providing the judgment summary a week late.

Speaking to Minivan News today, MDP MP Eva Abdulla said the possibility of the judiciary providing Nasheed adequate time to prepare an appeal seemed “unlikely, to say the least.”

Eva, MDP MP Ahmed Falah and Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof led the group delivering the letters to the Criminal Court. The crowd set out from the MDP offices towards the Criminal Court at noon, but were blocked at the President’s Office and the Supreme Court.

MP Falah rubs wrists after being handcuffed
MP Falah rubs wrists after being handcuffed

Police detained Falah in a scuffle near the President’s Office. He was handcuffed and taken to the Police HQ, but was immediately released.

When the group reached the Criminal Court, they were pushed behind barricades in a narrow alleyway and police escorted each letter bearer separately into the Justice Building.

After submitting his letter, 27-year-old Shammoon Jaleel said he did not believe justice was possible in the Maldives at present and he had also put a suggestion into a suggestion box at the Criminal Court asking the judiciary to “tear down the justice building and build a park there.”

Shimla Adam, 45, pointed out Nasheed’s legal team did not have enough time to review court proceedings and lodge an appeal even if the Criminal Court provided the report today.

“I do not think President Nasheed will get any justice. I have no hope of things getting better in this country,” she said.

President Abdulla Yameen has previously called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict, stating Nasheed had “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal” to challenge his conviction on terrorism charges at the High Court.

UN rights experts Knaul and Zeid have called on the Maldives to allow international observers including jurists to attend Nasheed’s appeal hearings.

This article was amended to include a statement by the Supreme Court which said the appeal deadline does not include weekends or the day a verdict is issued. 

 

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Nasheed’s lawyers decry Criminal Court failure to provide court proceedings as appeal deadline approaches

With additional reporting by Shafaa Hameed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s lawyers today decried the Criminal Court’s continued failure to provide court proceedings into the opposition leader’s terrorism trial, with only two days remaining before the appeal period expires.

The Criminal Court only today released a judgment summary, which lawyers say is not enough to build an appeal.

Without the full transcripts of court proceedings, lawyers would not be able to determine if the three judge panel had considered fully witness testimony and defence arguments in their verdict, a statement issued today said.

Expressing grave concern, Nasheed’s legal team said the Criminal Court’s failure to provide court proceedings “is an obstruction of President Nasheed’s right to appeal.”

The opposition leader was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in jail on March 13. According to new rules enacted prior to Nasheed’s trial, lawyers have 10 days to file their appeal.

A signed copy of the judgment summary was provided just before 3:00pm today, although the Supreme Court issued rules require judges to provide the summary at the end of the trial.

The appeal deadline is believed to expire on Sunday, March 22.

Asked if the ten-day appeal period included weekends, a Criminal Court spokesperson said he would have to check the new rules.

“These are untested rules. So we will file the appeal by Sunday, March 22,” Ahmed said.

The conviction of the opposition leader on terrorism charges relates to the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has previously accused the Criminal Court of “deliberately refusing to release court proceedings in order to frustrate attempts at launching an appeal.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday called on the Maldives to enable international jurists to observe an appeal after “a hasty and apparently unfair trial.”

Expressing strong concern, Zeid noted that the Criminal Court refused to provide Nasheed adequate time to prepare a defence, and said the court’s decision not to call defence witnesses was “contrary to international fair trial standards.”

He urged the former president be given adequate time to prepare and present his defence during the appeal process.

“The Nasheed case places the Maldives judicial processes in a sharp spotlight. The flagrant irregularities in this case can still be rectified in the appeal process, and I urge the authorities to restore domestic and international confidence in the legal system by enabling international jurists to observe the appeal process,” he said.

The surprise trial began one day after Nasheed was arrested on February 22, and was completed after 11 hearings in 19 days.

“It is hard to see how such hasty proceedings, which are far from the norm in the Maldives, can be compatible with the authorities’ obligations under international law to conduct a fair trial,” the UN human rights chief said.

President Abdulla Yameen meanwhile called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict.

In a statement released by the President’s Office on Sunday (March 15), President Yameen noted that the opposition leader has “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal” to challenge his conviction on terrorism charges at the High Court.

Correction: This article previously stated the Criminal Court had issued court proceedings. This is incorrect. The court had only provided a judgment summary.  


Related to this story:

UN human rights chief expresses strong concern over “hasty and apparently unfair” Nasheed trial

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court

Judge Abdulla suspected of involvement in “contract killing,” says Nasheed

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High Court dismisses Nasheed’s arrest warrant appeal

The High Court today dismissed former President Mohamed Nasheed’s appeal challenging the legality of the Criminal Court’s February 22 arrest warrant, after the opposition leader asked for an open hearing.

The High Court denied Nasheed’s request, claiming neither members of the public nor journalists were allowed to observe appeal hearings.

The appellate court dismissed the case after the former president reportedly refused to enter the courtroom.

Hisaan Hussain from Nasheed’s legal team told reporters that the High Court had decided in a circular to hold closed hearings for appeals concerning arrest warrants.

She argued that the decision was in violation of Article 42 of the Constitution and Article 71 of the Judicature Act as circulars did not have the force of either laws or regulations that derived its authority from an act of parliament.

Nasheed’s lawyer, Hassan Latheef, told Minivan News that the legal team has decided to appeal the High Court’s decision at the Supreme Court.

Article 42 of the Constitution states that “trials of any matter shall be held publicly” while the presiding judge could exclude the public in the interest of public morals, order and national security, or where juveniles or the victim of the crime requires, and in cases where public interest would prejudice justice.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) subsequently released a statement contending that the High Court did not have the legal authority to bar members of the public and journalists from observing hearings.

“By carrying out court proceedings in a manner that prevents constitutional rights and protection, the High Court is losing public trust, with the appeal process losing its meaning,” the MDP said.

Following the Criminal Court convicting Nasheed on terrorism charges on Friday night (March 13), Latheef said the legal team has requested the court report in order to appeal the 13-year prison sentence at the High Court within ten days.

A Supreme Court circular in January shortened the maximum appeal period from 90 days to ten days, claiming it would ensure the right to appeal in a timely manner.

“The Criminal Court informed us that the report will be provided in seven to 14 days,” said Latheef, noting that it would leave the defence team two days to prepare for the appeal hearing.

“Every aspect of this trial is very different from normal procedures followed by the courts,” he said.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz said yesterday that the government would ensure Nasheed’s right to appeal.

“I believe the Criminal Court would have afforded due process in the conduct of Nasheed’s trial. If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz insisted.

“We have a system of separation of powers. In a democracy, the head of state does not interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,” Muaz said.

Nasheed was brought from the Dhoonidhoo detention centre to Malé around 1:30pm.

Hundreds of protesters were gathered near the High Court building, demanding the former president’s immediate release.

MDP High Court Protest

Police informed Minivan News that four individuals were arrested from the protest for allegedly obstructing police duties and for trying to harm police officers. Minivan News journalists observed police officers using pepper spray indiscriminately while making the arrests.

MDP High Court Protest

Throughout the Criminal Court trial, Nasheed maintained that he had been deprived of basic constitutional rights, including the right to legal counsel, right to appeal, and the right to be provided adequate time to prepare a defence. Judges also refused to hear defence witnesses claiming they did not appear to negate the prosecution’s case.

Delivering the guilty verdict Friday night, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed as commander-in-chief ordered the arrest or “forceful abduction” of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The former president was arrested on February 22 after Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin personally sought an arrest warrant from the Criminal Court ahead of the surprise terrorism trial.


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