Attorney General (AG) Azima Shakoor has today denied reports that the Commonwealth is pressing the government to drop criminal charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed.
Local media reported yesterday that the Commonwealth had requested that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s administration assure Nasheed’s freedom, citing a government official whose identity was not divulged.
Nasheed could face prosecution over charges relating to both the alleged discovery by police of alcohol at his former residence and the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. The Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest immediately after the controversial change of government on February 7, however this was not acted upon.
Pointing to a government statement, Shakoor claimed today that there had been no discussions with the Commonwealth over dropping these charges against Nasheed. She added there would be no further comment on matter until discussions with Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon were concluded.
Mckinnon has been holding talks with several government representatives including the attorney general, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Gender Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Dr Hassan Saeed, Special Advisor to the President.
Nasheed alleged following his resignation that he had been deposed in a “coup” on February 7.
Minivan News reported last month that former President Mohamed Nasheed could face separate criminal charges for his alleged role in the Maldives National Defense Force’s (MNDF) detention of Judge Abdulla and the alleged confiscation of alcohol bottles at his home.
Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz said at the time that he had expected a decision to be made by his office on whether to prosecute Nasheed by the end of April. A decision on these charges has still yet to be taken.
Muizz was not responding to calls at the time of press.
Quoting an anonymous government source yesterday, local newspaper Haveeru reported that Commonwealth representatives had shown strong concerns that Nasheed not face charges.
“They (Commonwealth) want us to assure Nasheed’s freedom without any action or charges more than they want us to hold early presidential elections,” the official told the paper.
“We informed, [the Commonwealth] that we cannot impede or influence the justice system of this country. If a crime is committed than the guilty must be duly punished and that cannot be stopped even if the government wished to do so.”
In its statement March 15, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) expressed “continued concern” that “former President Nasheed receive the freedoms and privileges due to a former head of government. CMAG urged that all political parties and their leaders should be able to participate fully and freely in future electoral processes.”
Speaking last month after police forwarded the Nasheed charges to the PG’s Office, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy claimed that the move was “pure injustice”, representing the “broken” state of the national criminal justice system.
Fahmy contended it was ironic that Nasheed, who had worked to foster a reputation for championing human rights in the country, could now potentially face prosecution by a judiciary that he himself alleged to be guilty of several of counts of corruption.
“This is injustice. Justice is not ensured simply by a judge’s verdict on an issue, it has to be publicly accepted that it is justice,” he argued.
“For the last thirty long years, the regime [of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] tortured and suppressed the people. They systematically tortured the people. Those that were at the helm of torture and corruption are made as clean as ‘pure white cotton’ by the crippled judiciary.”