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The Criminal Court has today started to accept new cases submitted by the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office after the Supreme Court issued a second ruling ordering the court to uphold the rule of law.
“It is essential that the criminal justice system proceeds as it has done to uphold the rule of law as per the constitution. Hence, we order the Criminal Court to continue trials in ongoing cases, to continue to rule on essential issues such as pre-trial detentions within the criminal justice system as before, and to accept cases submitted by the Prosecutor General’s Office,” the Supreme Court order read.
The Criminal Court in December suspended all ongoing cases and decided not to accept new cases filed by the PG office, claiming the court cannot proceed with trials in the absence of a PG.
Former PG Ahmed Muizz resigned from his post in November shortly before the parliament was due to vote on a no confidence motion.
The Supreme Court on deputy PG Hussein Shameem’s request ordered the Criminal Court to restart trials. The court began hearings in ongoing cases, but refused to accept new cases.
The lower court argued that the order had stated cases must be accepted as per regulations – which it suggested could be breached by beginning trials in the absence of a new PG.
With the new order, the Criminal Court subsequently accepted 20 new cases today.
Shameem has said the backlog of cases pending at the PG office has now reached 533 with the Criminal Court’s recent stance. This figure includes 196 cases of suspects in pre-trial detention.
Speaking to Minivan News today, Shameem said it would now take over a month to clear the backlog.
“We will together work with the Criminal Court and hope for greater cooperation in the future,” he said.
The Human Rights Commission of Maldives on Monday called on the People’s Majlis to expedite the appointment of a new PG, stating the delay violates the citizen’s right to justice.
In December, President Abdulla Yameen nominated his nephew Maumoon Hameed for the position. Parliament broke for recess at the end of the year, however, after having forwarded the nominee for vetting by the independent institutions committee.
The Supreme Court is at present holding trial over the Elections Commission (EC) claiming the commission has disobeyed the court’s orders by dissolving political parties.