A visibly injured former President Mohamed Nasheed appeared at the Criminal Court today for the first hearing of his sudden terrorism trial.
Nasheed limped inside the courtroom at 4:35pm, nursing what appeared to be a broken arm and using his tie as a makeshift sling.
There were no buttons on his shirt, his glasses were missing, and he had a T-shirt wrapped around his body.
Nasheed appeared at court without legal representation as the Criminal Court today refused to register any of the five lawyers on his legal team.
Ignoring requests for medical attention, presiding Judge Abdulla Didi asked the state prosecutors to present charges.
The former president is being charged with terrorism for his administration’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.
Didi gave Nasheed three days to appoint a lawyer and answer charges, and ordered the opposition leader be held in police custody until the trial ended.
Nasheed has now been taken to Dhoonidhoo Island Detention Center, but lawyers said he may be taken to ADK Hospital for treatment. Supporters are awaiting him outside the hospital on Sosun Magu.
He was arrested yesterday at 3:00pm from his residence Yagoothuge.
Nasheed arrived at the Justice Building at 4:00pm under a heavy Specialist Operations (SO) police guard. Journalists attempted to question the opposition leader, but SO officers surrounded and manhandled Nasheed, shoving journalists and cameramen aside.
Nasheed’s shirt was torn in the process and he fell to the ground.
He repeatedly urged police officers to allow him to walk inside the court building, but SO officers dragged the former president inside the building by force.
Court officials locked the door afterwards.
When a three judge bench commenced the trial at 4:40pm, Nasheed stood up and said: “Honourable judge, I have been shoved to the ground and my arm has been broken. I want to see a doctor. As you can clearly see, I am hurt.”
He added: “I’ve been waiting for a while now. Take me to a doctor and then you can issue your verdict.”
However, Judge Abdulla Didi – presiding over the case along with Abdul Bari Yoosuf and Sujau Usman – said the judges had received reports suggesting that Nasheed had staged a fall, caused his own injuries and refused to enter the court building.
Nasheed replied: “What evidence are you basing this on? Check the videos.”
State Prosecutor Abdulla Rabiu said Nasheed was charged under Article 2(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act and that as commander-in-chief the former president was responsible for the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.
Asked to respond to the charges, Nasheed repeated his request for medical attention and asked to be allowed to appoint a lawyer.
When Judge Didi said Nasheed had allegedly refused to enter the court, he replied: “I’ve never given an excuse not to enter a courtroom.”
Nasheed also noted that he had been kept in detention for more than 24 hours without being brought before a judge.
State Prosecutor Aishath Fazna Ahmed then read out a letter from the Prosecutor General requesting an order to hold Nasheed in remand detention on the grounds that his previous conduct during proceedings at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court suggested the former president might abscond from trial.
Fazna also cited a police intelligence report to support the request, and requested for a continuous trial.
Judge Didi gave Nasheed three days to appoint a lawyer and answer the charges of terrorism and ordered police to hold the former president in pre-trial detention until the conclusion of the trial.
Didi said the Criminal Court would order the police to provide the former president with medical care.
Judge Abdulla Mohamed has meanwhile taken a leave of absence until the end of the trial.
Outside, the police had cordoned off the area encompassing the Criminal Court, the adjoining Supreme Court and the Vice President’s residence. Supporters had been gathering behind barricades from 3:00pm onwards.
Condemning the police’s unlawful use of force and brutality, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has called on the police to provide Nasheed with medical attention immediately and ensure he is afforded all constitutional rights.
In response to a question today, Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, expressed concern over the developments in the Maldives, “including the arrest and manhandling of former President Nasheed.”
“We urge all concerned to calm the situation and resolve their differences within the constitutional and legal framework of Maldives.
“The Government of India reiterates its commitment to supporting the people and the Government of Maldives in their quest for peace, development, prosperity and democracy,” the spokesperson said.
The Maldivian Democracy Network, meanwhile, said Nasheed had been denied constitutional rights, including the right to legal counsel and appeal.
In a statement detailing several alleged irregularities, the human rights group called on the Maldives Police Services and the Prosecutor General to work within the ambit of the Constitution.
“We urge the authorities to release Nasheed and all peaceful protesters as we are of the view that these persons have been detained unlawfully without adherence to due process,” the statement read.
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