Nasheed sole focus of government’s charges following CNI findings: Home Minister

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has told local media that former President Mohamed Nasheed was the only individual the government would charge following the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI)’s report.

Addressing the February 8 police crackdown on demonstrators, Jameel claimed that the government had not yet been able to organise or appoint a full cabinet on the day.  He added that the police themselves were responsible for their acts at that time and any potential charges they may face over the report’s conclusions.

Dr Jameel said that the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), according to its mandate, will look into issues concerning police conduct.

The fourth key finding of the CNI report called for an investigation of acts of police brutality of February 6, 7 and 8, although this was not revealed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan during the report’s release on Thursday.

Spokesman for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Hamid Abdul Ghafoor today responded to Jameel’s comments, saying: “The people who committed these crimes are responsible for implementing the CNI. The CNI has given room for politicians to free themselves.”

Ghafoor said that the report “articulated urgency” with regards to generating confidence in the nation’s key institutions.

He also reiterated the MDP’s call for the immediate implementation of legal proceedings against those implicated in wrong doing.

During a press conference yesterday, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim stated that he wanted to further highlight Nasheed’s “lies”.  He added that contrary to Nasheed’s claims the day before, the CNI report made no mention of any illegal actions or involvement in an alleged “coup d’etat” by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Former President Nasheed recently suggested that a core of 300 police and military officers were “undermining the public interest of the entire country”.

Ghaoor said today that as long as these people remained in their positions, “the country will be run by a military dictatorship”, before appealing to CMAG to review the findings of the report.

“I do not believe they will leave the country at the mercy of armed forces,” said Ghafoor following the Commonwealth’s encouragement of all sides to respect the report’s findings.

Jameel yesterday indicated his belief that the CNI report relieved the current government of any further obligations to negotiate with Nasheed, regardless of any external pressure.

“No international power can coerce this government into discussions with Nasheed again. This chapter closes here,” Dr Jameel said.

Both Jameel and Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor went on to advise the country’s youth against backing Nasheed, calling him a “habitual liar”.

“Do you realise what sort of a man you are following? He is a habitual liar, do you understand? And what exactly do you achieve by staying behind him? You just have to keep facing police and military action, be answerable to PG and courts, and end up in jail, leaving your young wives and children behind. Is this the future you want?” Dr Jameel said.

Statements from the United States, India, the United Nations and the Commonwealth all urged continuing dialogue amongst political actors.

Nazim said that, just as he had stated prior to the release of the report, the government would not be taking any action against any MNDF officers with regard to the CNI report.

Nazim did confirm that he would be taking legal action against all persons who referred to any MNDF soldier or to himself as ‘baaghee’ (a Dhivehi word meaning: a traitor who had brought about or participated in a coup).

The executive summary of the CNI report stated that urgent reforms were needed to the “basic institutions of democratic governance” and that justice “needs to be seen to be done in order to reassure the public and inspire their confidence.”

Nazim instead focused on the report’s ruling that there had been no coup in the Maldives, and hence no one had a right to label as traitors either the soldiers or any member of the executive, including himself, who, despite having been relieved of his duties officially, had acted as a commander of the MNDF Forces on February 7 in a personal capacity.

“Because I was there in a personal capacity, President Nasheed has often named me as a man who has administered a coup. But I would like to point out that my name does not come up in the CNI report at all,” Nazim claimed.

Nazim is identified in the CNI report as one of three “critical participants” on February 7  as one of three people who – along with current Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz –  “had been watching what was going on at Republican Square and felt it was their moral obligation and  public duty to intervene.”

“These three men, when they arrived at Republican Square, appeared to  enjoy positive rapport with the opposition groups outside the MNDF HQ and quickly  assumed leadership roles, particularly with the police. There is no suggestion that they were appointed or given specific authority,” the report states.

Regarding a statement by the international advisers in the CNI defending the commission’s professionalism and integrity, Attorney General Shukoor said that the international community may have taken Nasheed’s nominee Ahmed Saeed (Gahaa)’s claims more seriously had he submitted a dissenting opinion instead of handing in his resignation.

The attorney general alleged that Saeed was unable to do this as he did not have enough evidence to back his claims.  She said that if anyone wished to contest the findings of CNI, they were advised to file the case in court.

Ghafoor today lamented what he saw as the failings of the CNI: “It does not seem as if [the MDP’s] troubles are over. Doesn’t look as if trouble for the country as a whole is over.”


“I realised it was all going wrong”: member Saeed on CNI’s final days

“I realised it was all going wrong,” recently resigned member of the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed told a press conference at Dharubaaruge this evening.

During the press conference, Saeed revealed comprehensive details of the admissions from the final CNI draft which led to his resignation on Wednesday.

“I did push for the initial extension, but this time around I realised that even if the time was extended, there was no possibility that the report would come out any different,” he said.

Saeed said that he had accepted the post because he had been deeply affected by the brutality and the injustice he observed in the events following February 6, and felt he could make a constructive contribution to the commission’s work.

He emphasised that he was not a politician and did not take up these responsibilities with any political interest in mind. Saeed provided a copy of a letter which he says was presented to the commission’s co-chairs on August 26 as well as a copy of his resignation letter.

The first letter, written on August 18, detailed Saeed’s concerns about the commission’s progress, which included the following:  withheld evidence, non-cooperation from crucial witnesses, non-examination of witnesses, witnesses being intimidated or obstructed, testimonies and evidence that was not reviewed, and organisation by the CNI secretariat.

“I feel compelled to formally register with you a number of issues that I believe, if left unaddressed, will seriously undermine the credibility of the report. I also believe these matters defeat the purpose for which the CNI was established,” read the August 26 letter, sent to the other members of the commission as well as Commonwealth Special Envoy, Sir Donald McKinnon, and members of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) – whose pressure led to his appointment.

Saeed told the press today that he had submitted his concerns regarding Singaporean Judge G.P. Selvam’s extended absences to the Commonwealth, but that he had so far not received a response.

He mentioned that there were a total of 31 days in which the commission was not able to work with the full commission’s presence, alluding to Selvam’s lengthy absence.

In responding to questions from media, Saeed said that Judge Selvam had brought gifts for the commission members ranging from dictionaries to perfume.

He said that the last gift, which had been offered along with the draft of the CNI report, was an Apple iPad for each member of the commission.

Saeed confirmed that while he had not accepted any of these gifts, the other commission members had.

Saeed also spoke of material worth thousands of Singaporean dollars that Judge Selvam had donated to the Villingili Hiya Children’s Center and the Maafushi Juvenile Detention Centre.

In the distributed letter, Saeed decried the fact that no CCTV footage from the police or the President’s Office had been made available to the commission.

“Only three out of eight CCTV cameras in and around MNDF have been provided and these have some crucial hours of footage missing,” wrote Saeed.

Saeed added that, “after much stonewalling”, he was simply told the footage was not available.

Saeed also wrote that the CNI was unable to access the information compiled by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) despite repeated requests.

He also said that the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) report was not received until August 16, describing the eventual report as “superficial and inconclusive”.

The letter suggested that key witnesses, believed to have played crucial roles in the events of February 7, appeared to have been coached – all giving standard responses to questions such as “no”, “I don’t know”, or “I can’t remember”.

Saeed also suggested that the non-cooperation of Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer was unacceptable after he had made public statements detailing his role in Nasheed’s resignation.

He also alleged that the original members of the Commission (Dr Ibrahim Yasir, Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef and chairman Ismail Shafeeu) showed a lack of interest in witnesses, “rarely posing questions.”

Using the examples of MC Mohamed Hameed and Superintendant Adnan Anees, Saeed expressed his belief that pressure was being put on members of the security forces not to cooperate with the CNI.

He added that a number of potentially crucial witnesses had been transferred, sometimes overseas, “making it extremely hard or impossible for them to appear before the CNI.”

Writing 12 days before the report was due for release, Saeed had mentioned his concerns that a lot of evidence had yet to be reviewed in the limited time remaining.

The final point raised in the August 26 letter was the poor scheduling of the witnesses by the commission’s secretariat.

Saeed said that inadequate notice had been given to enable his preparations for questioning. He also suggested that the most important witnesses were scheduled at the least convenient times.

The quality of translations services provided by the secretariat were also criticised, being described as “inappropriate and to some extent misleading.”

Additional details of Saeed’s concerns came in the August 29 resignation letter in which he alleged that the reformed five-man commission had not reviewed the finding of the original three-man group, “despite inconsistencies”.

The resignation letter detailed that no officer from the Special Operations branch of the police force had been interviewed. “The CNI has not been able to ‘summon’ any of the alleged ‘perpetrators’ or ‘culprits’,” he wrote.

Saeed criticised the nature of the commission’s work, arguing that it lacked the “investigative powers to thoroughly probe accusations.” He mentioned that the group had been unable to access key individuals’ bank accounts or phone records.

In concluding the press conference, Saeed said that he felt the Commonwealth had welcomed the final CNI report even though Saeed himself had not signed it because after his resignation, he was no longer a part of CNI and his signature would no longer be needed.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma has welcomed the release of the report by the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), and urged “all concerned to respect the findings of the commission so that, moving forward, all actions and reactions reflect the sense of responsibility and restraint necessary in the best national interest.“