Civil Court concludes first hearing of Hulhumalé Court challenge

Former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader Mohamed Nasheed’s case against the legality of the process in which the bench of the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court was heard by the Civil Court today.

Nasheed submitted the case to the lower court after the High Court decided on Monday (February 9) that it could not deliberate on the legality of the bench, citing jurisdictional grounds.

The High Court’s decision read that, under the regulation, the court can deliberate on decisions of the lower courts, but not on their composition.

According to Nasheed’s legal team member Ahmed Abdulla who spoke to the press outside the court, the trial today heard the case challenging the legality of the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court bench and also a stay order requested by Nasheed.

“We have received information the Judicial Service Commission plans to bring changes to the bench, we requested the court to order a halt to that”, Abdulla said.

He added that the JSC’s legal team requested more time to respond to the case regarding the legality of the bench but that it had responded to the stay order request.

“Firstly they stated that the bench is not in existence and then they said that we have brought no changes to the bench. Therefore what they are basically saying is that bench not being in existence is not a change. We were unable to comprehend what they were saying”.

Abdulla told reporters that in response to this, Nasheed’s legal team stated that the reason Nasheed had lodged cases in court against the JSC is because the commission insists it has powers to assemble court benches.

Nasheed’s legal team member Hisan Hussain stated that the reason the JSC is saying the bench does not exist is because magistrates who were initially appointed to the bench have now been promoted to superior courts.

“We must always assume that the JSC will assemble a bench, possibly even tomorrow and proceed with the case as long as the commission insists it has authority to do so,” she continued.

The judge will decide and rule on the stay order request in the next hearing to be held Saturday (February 14) .

While the trial continued supporters of Nasheed and the MDP gathered outside the Civil Court and expressed their discontent over the government’s “persecution and failures”.

Tensions between Special Operations police officers and those gathered grew as police started clearing the crowd from the main entrance of the civil court around 5pm.

Some pushing and shoving was observed along with heated exchanges of words between protesters and the police, although no arrests were made.


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