Former President Mohamed Nasheed in a public speech on Tuesday challenged the Prosecutor General (PG) as to why “such a small charge” was being raised against him while he was being accused of “the much larger crime of having hijacked the entire criminal justice system of the Maldives”.
Following Nasheed’s first hearing in the case against him regarding the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, the former president addressed a crowd of over 1500 supporters at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s rally grounds in ‘Usfasgandu’ on Tuesday night.
Speaking at the rally, Nasheed stated that the Prosecutor General had filed a case against him under Article 81 of the Penal Code for the arrest of a judge.
Article 81 of the Penal Code states that it is a criminal offence for any employee of the state to use the constitutional powers to arrest vested on him to deliberately arrest a person who has not committed a crime. The article further details that the maximum penalty for this offence is either a jail sentence or banishment for a period of up to three years, or a fine of up to MVR 2000 (US$130).
“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. 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 explained.
“In truth, if I have committed the crime he is accusing me of, then it is far more serious than he is currently saying. If such a crime has been committed, then the charges must be for having dismantled the whole criminal justice system.”
“That the PG is not charging me for that, and instead is sticking to such a small charge shows beyond any doubt that he is looking at the matter from a political perspective,” Nasheed alleged.
Nasheed said he was confident that his legal team would prove in court the challenges that the criminal justice system of the country was facing, the problems that the whole justice system of the Maldives was facing, the ensuing risks to national security, and that the steps taken by the President of the Maldives to solve the issue fell within the legislative framework of the country.
“What is the specific moment during the orchestration of the coup that all political actors were noting as most important? The moment when Abdulla Ghazi (Judge Abdulla Mohamed) was released. The coup d’etat that was brought in this country was made possible because our criminal justice system has failed,” said Nasheed.
Nasheed also said that government employees in the southern atolls had raised concerns of not having received their monthly salary.
“Hassan Thaajudeen declared a wage system in the 1600s. Since then, the state has never once failed to pay wages, until now. What we are seeing are the effects of the coup,” Nasheed said.
Regarding the actions of the police, Nasheed stated that there were many police officers who worked with the national interest in mind. He said that these officers were following the orders of their “political leaders” with reluctance.
“The Home Minister may have instructed (police) to shoot me in the head and bring me back. Home Minister may have asked them to bring me with my hands cuffed behind my back. The Home Minister may also have asked them to completely destroy Aslam’s house, or destroy Fares-Mathoda and bring me back. We do not at all doubt that the state has the means and manpower to do so. However, these past few days have made it even clearer to me that there are lots of police and soldiers who are aligned with the national spirit,” Nasheed stated.
Nasheed further stated that the MDP’s campaign trip to the southern atolls, the “Journey of Pledges” had been interrupted by the state with the use of force disproportionate to the situation.
“Some days we fall, but then we get back up even faster,” Nasheed said, stating that the campaign trip would resume on Wednesday morning.
After the first hearing of the case on Tuesday, the court has scheduled the next hearing to be held on November 4. Although Nasheed has been freed from police custody after Tuesday’s hearing, he is still effectively under island arrest.
“We have heard the manifesto of our political opponents. They vow only to detain President Nasheed for a long period of time. There is nothing for the benefit of the people,” Nasheed said.
“Our party’s and my own first pledge is that my name will be on the ballot paper,” Nasheed declared, prompting loud cheers from his supporters.