Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team on Sunday stated they had not been officially informed by the civil court of the rescheduling of the defamation case filed by Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz against Nasheed.
A member of Nasheed’s legal team, Hisaan Hussain, said they had seen local news reports that the hearing had been postponed on Riyaz’s request, but had not been officially informed. Hussain said they had no information as to when the hearing had been rescheduled to.
“The procedure is that the person who filed the case has to request for postponement at least one hour before the hearing. We don’t know when Riyaz sent in the request, we saw it in the news around 11:15pm,” Hassan said.
In addition to this, the legal team noted that they had so far not received details of the case and were not aware which action or words of Nasheed had prompted Riyaz to file the defamation case against him.
“We haven’t had any official word as to why the case has been filed. Again, through local media we have heard it was because Nasheed had called Riyaz a ‘baaghee’ (traitor). What we have heard through official means is only that it is a case for defamation, and that Riyaz wants compensation for a loss that this alleged defamation has caused him,” Hassan said.
Another member of the legal team, former Minister of Youth and Sports Hassan Latheef, pointed out that while Riyaz had filed the defamation case in the civil court, the police were continuously arresting people for calling them ‘baaghee’ (traitor) on the streets, and that the criminal court was continuing to provide extensions of detention periods for people arrested under the charges.
“The articles in the penal code against defamation has been removed. Defamation is now considered a civil offence, and yet police continue to arrest people for expressing their opinions on the police force under what can only be perceived as charges of defamation,” Latheef said.
A second case regarding similar defamation allegations against Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim is also pending.
Hassan added that they believed the police were arresting people under the directives coming from the Commissioner of Police. Emphasizing the contradiction, Hassan further said, “We believe this is something Riyaz needs to answer to the people for. This is because people are continuing to be arrested, jailed and charged for the matter. The Police Commissioner needs to make up his mind whether he perceives defamation as a civil or criminal offence.”
In response to a question posed by Minivan News, Latheef said that Nasheed would respect the decisions reached by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), referring to the NEC’s decision to not abide by court orders until the changes proposed by international community are brought to the Maldivian judicial system.
“Since President Nasheed is MDP’s presidential candidate, he accepts that a decision by the NEC is one that he, too, would wish to abide by in principle. The NEC, after much consideration, came to that decision. Hence President Nasheed believes that he will act in accordance with it,” Latheef said.
The legal team stated that Nasheed would decide whether or not to attend the hearing once he is officially notified of the rescheduling by the civil court.
MDP International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today that the MDP would go ahead with the scheduled trip to the atolls, although the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has placed Nasheed under island arrest with regard to a case against him for the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
“We will be leaving tomorrow for the southern campaign. We will not budge,” he said.
Minivan News tried contacting Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, but he was not responding to calls.
Maldives Police Services Media Official Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef was also not responding to calls.