The criminal court has extended the detention period of 61 protesters arrested on Thursday, in opposition to President Mohamed Waheed Hassan giving the presidential address to open the first session of parliament.
Police had arrested 67 protesters on the day, but released six of them later. Minivan News understands that those detained include former President Mohamed Nasheed’s brother, Nazim Sattar.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) called on police to immediately release of the detainees last night. MDP in a press statement stated: “The families of the detained are extremely concerned and some of the families have suffered psychologically following the arrests of the detainees.”
MDP also called on the courts to make their judgements freely and impartially to ensure the people’s trust in the judiciary was not tarnished any further.
“The detention extension issued by the courts regarding the protesters who had been arrested was against legal principles,” said member of MDP’s legal team and Chairman of the MDP Legal Affairs Committee, Ahmed Abdullah Afeef, in a press conference held by MDP on Friday night.
Afeef also stated that the detention extension had been carried out “unfairly”, and alleged that the whole process had been “pre-planned” before the protesters were even taken into the court.
“Police had no evidence to prove to the court that there was a legitimate reason to extended the detention periods. The actions of the criminal court imply more of a personal vendetta rather than an impartial decision,” said Afeef.
Afeef observed that during protests that took place during December 2011 under Nasheed’s government, police had sought the detention of several protesters, providing photo and video evidence proving attacks on police, but the criminal court had rejected it and released those detained.
Afeef said that the party would appeal the decisions of the Criminal Court and said the case would be filed in High Court today. Afeef also added that High Court has said that they will hold a hearing today.
Speaking to Minivan News today at the High Court building, Afeef said: “What we are trying to say is that there maybe people amongst the protesters who should be arrested, but it has to be done based on evidence.”
“As a principle, the judge would not know what happened at the protests. Decisions from a judge should come based on evidence. Here in this case, the police could not provide any evidence, but yet still the judge issued the detention extensions,” he said.
Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News today that 61 people arrested during the protests are in police custody, “all of them had arrested attempting to break through police lines, or attacking police officers. We have evidence and the investigation process is going on currently. We will submit that evidence to the authorities as well,” Shiyam said.
Fourteen police officers were injured on Thursday in skirmishes with demonstrators, some of whom threw rocks at officers. Four were seriously injured, and one officer was flown to Sri Lanka for further treatment.
Minivan News also observed police in riot gear cracking down protesters near the Reefside Shop in Chaandhanee Magu, without advance notice. Three protesters were taken into custody at the scene.
Questioned about the incident, Shiyam said that the people who are currently arrested were those who had “attacked the police officers”, that the others had been released.
The High Court was yet to announce the appeal hearings at the time of press.