Fifty-five of the eighty-nine individuals facing terrorism charges in relations to violence in Gaafu Dhaalu Thinadhoo on February 8, 2012, have been detained until the end of the trial.
Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed told the court today that information had been received regarding the intimidation of witnesses, prompting the decision to hold a number of suspects until proceedings are completed.
The island’s atoll council office, its court building, police station, and several police vehicles were set on fire following the contested resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012.
Nine policemen were attacked, while police officials at the time declared the area unsafe for local policemen as Maldivian Democratic Party supporters had threatened to attack the residences of policemen.”
MDP lawyer Hisaan Hussain criticised today’s decision, saying: “We condemn this collective punishment which is not in line with our constitution or international law.”
Another lawyers familiar with case described the decision as “most unusual”,noting that the identities of state witnesses are not disclosed and have their voices disguised in order to protect their identity.
Defence lawyers have requested a written copy of the order to begin the appeal process but have yet to be provided with the relevant documents.
Hearings in the case began on October 1, while the trial of juvenile offenders in the same case is also nearing completion this month. Around 80 people are also currently facing terrorism charges in relation to unrest in Addu during the same period.
Acts of arson are considered terrorism under the Terrorism Prevention Act enacted by the administration of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The offence carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.
The MDP has contended that the trials against dozens of the party’s members and supporters in Addu City and Thinadhoo were acts of intimidation, accusing the government of threatening to prosecute persons who participate in MDP activities.
Hisaan today also criticised the use of a single judge – Abdulla Mohamed – in the 300-400 cases ongoing in relation to the February 8 unrest, calling the entire process “highly politically motivated”.
The detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – following repeated obstruction of investigations into his conduct – led to the intensification of anti-government protests, culminating in policemen mutinying on the evening of February 6.
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