The United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) have joined a growing international chorus of concern over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest and surprise trial on terrorism charges.
In a statement today, the UN urged “fairness and transparency in regards to the legal proceedings” against the former president.
The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jens Toyberg-Frandzen in a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, “stressed the need for full respect for due process and transparency” in Nasheed’s trial.
He also appealed to the government to allow peaceful political dissent and to engage with the opposition in the interest of long-term political stability in the Maldives, the statement read.
At a first hearing yesterday, a visibly injured Nasheed appeared in court with his arm in a makeshift sling and repeatedly asked for medical attention and legal counsel.
Presiding Judge Abdulla Didi denied Nasheed bail and gave him three days to appoint a lawyer and answer charges.
The former opposition leader is to remain in police custody until the conclusion of the terrorism trial over the January 2012 detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
The EU Heads of Mission and Ambassadors of Norway and Switzerland in Colombo in a statement this evening said the delegation was “very concerned” over Nasheed’s arrest and was seeking clarification as to the nature of the terrorism charges.
“Equally, reports of former President Nasheed having effectively been denied appropriate legal representation at the court hearing on 23 February 2015, are of great concern,” the statement read.
“The EU Delegation reiterates the importance of respect for democratic principles, including respect for the rule of law, for the Constitution, for due legal process and for the independence of the judiciary.”
Foreign Minster Dunya Maumoon has hit back at the UN, and previous statements by the Commonwealth and Canada, expressing disappointment over what she called biased statements.
“Those who prefer to issue public statements about an on-going legal case, or on a domestic political situation, are advised to do a basic fact-check, before bandwagoning on to accusations made by a political party,” a press release by the Foreign Ministry this afternoon said.
Dunya insisted the police followed due process and standard procedure in arresting Nasheed and presenting him at court.
“The Government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom will not take instructions from a foreign government on any issue in governing the country,” she said.
She urged foreign countries and international organisations to “refrain from acts and signals that could undermine the sovereignty of independent states,” and said President Abdulla Yameen’s government “will implement to the letter, the decisions and verdicts of the Courts.”
It added that Nasheed was arrested with a court warrant and presented before a judge within 24 hours in accordance with “normal procedure,” after which the judge granted the former president the opportunity to appoint a lawyer.
However, Nasheed was brought to court more than 24 hours after the arrest for the first hearing of a trial on terrorism charges, rather than a remand hearing.
Meanwhile, the Asian Centre for Human Rights has called “upon the United States, European Union, India, Singapore and others to impose a travel embargo on Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and presiding Judge Abdulla Didi for the illegal arrest and detention of Mr Nasheed.”
“The arrest and detention of former President Nasheed on terrorism charges is a grotesque act of political vendetta. The accountability of Prosecutor General Muhsin and Presiding Judge Didi must be established, including under universal jurisdiction for meting out torture, inhumane and degrading treatment to former President Nasheed in the court premises,” stated the ACHR’s Director Suhas Chakma.
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