The Maldives Bar Association has called for the suspension of Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed pending an investigation into allegations over the judge’s appearance in a series of sex tapes.
Hameed’s continued presence on the Supreme Court bench contravenes the Islamic Shariah and the norms of justice, the organisation said in a press statement on Monday.
“Given the serious nature of the allegations against Ali Hameed, that the judge continues to hold trial contravenes norms of justice, conduct of judges, and established norms by which free and democratic societies deal with cases of this nature,” the statement read.
Three videos showing Hameed engaging in sexual relations with foreign women in a Colombo hotel room first surfaced in May 2013. The judicial oversight body Judicial Services Commission (JSC) set up committees to investigate the case twice – in May and December 2013.
Both subcommittees unanimously recommended the JSC suspend Hameed pending an investigation. In July 2013, the JSC disregarded the recommendation citing lack of evidence, while a JSC decision on the December subcommittee’s recommendation is still pending.
JSC member Shuaib Abdul Rahman and former member MP Ahmed Hamza have accused JSC President and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed of stalling the investigation into the scandal.
The JSC’s four-month delay in a decision undermines public trust in the judiciary, the Bar Association said.
President of the Bar Association Husnu Suood, and former member of the second JSC committee set up to investigate the scandal has suggested his suspension from practicing law – handed down by the Supreme Court in January – was related to his role in the investigation.
The Supreme Court withdrew the suspension on Sunday on the condition he refrains from engaging in any act that may undermine the courts.
The Maldives Police Services had completed an investigation into Suood’s alleged contempt of court, but the Prosecutor General’s Office decided not to press charges.
Meanwhile, the police in December said it still could not ascertain if the sex tapes are genuine. Local media have claimed the Maldives Police Services have been unable to proceed with investigations due to the Criminal Court’s failure to provide two key warrants.
The Bar Association has said the JSC must expedite a decision on Hameed’s suspension to uphold public trust.
“Judgments by judge who’s integrity has been questioned is not acceptable under the Islamic Shari’a, given that even testimony from an unreliable source is not accepted,” the statement said.
Hameed contributed to a majority verdict in a series of controversial Supreme Court judgments in recent months, including the annulment of the first round of presidential polls in September 2013, stripping two opposition MPs of their Majlis membership over decreed debt, and the removal of Elections Commission president and vice president.
In May 2013, the Supreme Court requested the Ministry of Home Affairs look into the procedures by which the Bar Association was established, claiming the use of the word ‘Bar’ in the association’s name had lead to “confusion” among international legal and judicial groups.