Two police witnesses presented to court by the prosecution against retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi have said they met Didi inside the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) Headquarters the night Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed was taken into military detention.
Ibrahim Didi is charged for the controversial military detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.
Along with Didi, former President Mohamed Nasheed, his Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, former Chief of Defense Force retired Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel and Colonel Mohamed Ziyad are all facing the same charges, of arbitrarily detaining an innocent individual as stipulated in article 81 of the Penal Code.
Article 81 of the Maldives Penal Code states: “It shall be an offense for any public servant by reason of the authority of office he is in to detain to arrest or detain in a manner contrary to Law innocent persons. Persons guilty of this offense shall be subjected to exile or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding MVR 2,000.00.”
Didi however denied the charges levied against him during the first hearing of the trial, contending that he should not be facing charges as an individual for an act carried out by the then Defence Ministry.
The former Brigadier General claimed that the charges levied against him by the state were unfair and raised question over the credibility of the witnesses presented by the state against him. He also argued that the arrest was made by the Defence Minister under the direct orders of the president, and that he had no role to play in it.
During the hearing of the trial held at Hulhumale Magistrate Court on Wednesday, two witnesses, Police Sergeant Hassan Irash and Police Lance Corporal Ibrahim Hameed, told the court that they had met the former Male Area Commander at Bandaara Koshi together with a group of police officers.
Sergeant Irash claimed that he and the group of police officers including Lance Corporal Hameed went to the MNDF headquarters on the order of former Police Superintendent Mohamed Jinah. He added that Didi met the group and had asked whether they were the police.
However, Lance Corporal Hameed claimed that he did not know whose order the group of police officers were following, when they were on their way to the MNDF headquarters on the night of February 6, 2012.
State prosecutors did not disclose what they were trying to prove through the witness statements given by the two police officers.
Prior to the witness statements, Didi’s defence lawyer Ismail Wisham took a procedural point contending that the two police officers was not required to be brought before the court to give evidence.
This, he said, was because neither of the two statements given by the two officers had anything to do with the arrest of the judge and therefore, their statements did not carry any weight.
Dismissing the point, State Prosecutor Aishath Fazna Ahmed contended that the defendant’s lawyer had not objected to the list of witnesses presented to the court during the first hearing.
She also argued that debate on witness statements would take place after all the witness statements had been made in court and added that the state wished to prove certain elements through a combination of multiple witness statements.
Deciding on the matter, the panel of judges concluded that every party under the constitution was entitled to submit as much evidences as they could, and that therefore the court had decided to take evidences from the two police officers in a bid to respect that constitutional right.
The court concluded the hearings announcing that another would be scheduled on March 31 (Sunday).
Judge Abdulla Mohamed was taken into military custody in January 2012 after the former Home Minister Hassan Afeef wrote to Defense Minister Tholhath asking him arrest the judge, stating that he posed a threat to both the national security of the country and a threat to the country’s criminal justice system.
Minister Afeef at the time of the judge’s arrest accused him of “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist”, listing 14 cases of obstruction of police duty, including withholding warrants for up to four days, ordering police to conduct unlawful investigations and disregarding decisions by higher courts.
Didi was the Male Area Commander at the time the arrest took place.