President Abdulla Yameen called Deputy Prosecutor General Hussein Shameem’s resignation “irresponsible” and said criminal cases must proceed at the courts.
Shameem resigned on Monday citing the Criminal Court’s “obstruction” of the criminal justice system. State prosecutors are refusing to attend court hearings in the absence of a Prosecutor General (PG) and deputy PG. The PG position has been vacant since November 2013.
Shameem has called on the executive and the People’s Majlis to immediately appoint a new Prosecutor General, but Yameen said he will only submit a new nominee to the newly elected 18th People’s Majlis. Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) holds a majority in the new parliament.
“Now that we have acquired majority seats, we are becoming more comfortable. God willing, we will be able to acquire a full majority in parliament. I do not have the confidence that we will be able to get the required 39 votes if we initiate a special meeting of the current parliament,” Yameen said.
The current Majlis is in recess and it’s term is set to expire on May 28. It had previously rejected Yameen’s nephew Maumoon Hameed for the position.
Yameen said the executive would put out a third call for applicants, claiming the President’s Office had not received enough applications during the second call.
Five individuals had expressed interest. They are Shameem, Tourism Minister under the MDP administration Mariyam Zulfa, Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaz Muhusin, lawyers Aishath Fazna Ahmed and Mohamed Shah. A third call will allow Hameed to submit an application once again.
Speaking to local media, Yameen said he does not accept Shameem’s resignation at a time when the state does not have a serving PG, and said criminal cases must proceed as long as the courts allow it.
“I do not understand it. I cannot accept it. So I think the best option is to go forward with the regular cases, except the major cases, even if there isn’t a Prosecutor General, as long as the courts allow it, isn’t it? I will be very pleased if things happen in this manner,” he told the newspaper Haveeru.
Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussein has also said criminal cases must continue.
“The Constitution does not recognize the post of a Deputy Prosecutor General. What the Constitution accepts is a Prosecutor General. About four months have passed since we last had a Prosecutor General. That issue has been already reviewed. The situation has not changed,” Faiz said, referring to a Supreme Court order on February 18.
The Criminal Court released a statement today announcing that it will abide by the Supreme Court order and continue conducting cases.
In a resignation statement, Shameem said he was unable to fulfill his duties due to the Criminal Court’s failure to prosecute foreigners involved in drug trafficking, delays in issuing rulings on drug related offenses and “unreasonable obstacles” in filing cases at the court.
“These issues obstruct the proper functioning of the criminal justice system. I am deeply saddened to note the extreme delay on the part of those who have the power to address these issues,” he said.
PG Office Spokesperson Hussain Nashid was not responding to calls at the time of press.