Former President Mohamed Nasheed has been presented to a court hearing under police custody, following his arrest on Monday on an order issued by Hulhumale Magistrate Court.
Hundreds of protesters are gathered in the area surrounding the court. Protesters claim that the Hulhumale’ court is unlawful and are calling for Nasheed to be freed.
The arrest of Nasheed on the island of Fares-Mathoda by the police followed a decision by Nasheed’s party to ignore two previous summons and a travel ban issued by the court, which the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) contend has no legitimacy under the 2008 Constitution. The matter is currently being considered by the Supreme Court.
Excessive force used in arrest: Amnesty
International human rights NGO Amnesty International has stated that the Maldives Police Services (MPS) used “excessive force” during the arrest of Nasheed.
The statement noted eyewitness accounts of the police vandalising the house of former Minister of Housing and Environment Mohamed Aslam, where Nasheed was staying at the time of arrest. It also highlighted accounts of attacks against supporters outside the residence who were exercising their right to protest peacefully.
Regarding the case against Nasheed, the statement further says that although it is “positive” that the Maldivian authorities are investigating the case, the organisation is concerned that the human rights violations during the 30 year presidency of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom and those that have occurred since Mohamed Waheed Hassan assumed office in February 2012 were being ignored.
“Investigations into past abuses are always welcome. However, accountability must not be selective – all authorities including former presidents should be held accountable for human rights violations. The focus on human rights violations during only Nasheed’s presidency appears politically motivated,” said Amnesty International’s Researcher on Maldives Abbas Faiz.
Arrest was carried out “very professionally”: police
Police have released a statement claiming that police officers acted “very professionally” in bringing Nasheed into police custody.
The statement says that the police had initially requested Nasheed to hand himself over to the police. According to the police, officers broke down the door of the room Nasheed was in and detained him after he failed to respond to the initial commands. The statemen claims that this is the general course of action used by police in similar situations.
The police denied that any officers used offensive language or that any physical or that psychological trauma was caused to anyone during the arrest.
The statement further notes that from the time Nasheed was brought to the Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre last night, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and the Police Integrity Commission have been provided with the opportunity to observe the proceedings of the operation to arrest Nasheed.
Police have also stated that Nasheed is allowed access to legal counsel and family under the arranged regulations.
“No chance of a fair trial”
The MDP has claimed there is no chance of a fair trial in the Maldives for former President Nasheed, and Nasheed’s legal team have complained about the “extraordinary way” the trial is being conducted.
President Nasheed’s legal team said they had not received official notifications from the court about trial dates., and were instead learning this information from local media reports.
“Moreover, in an unprecedented move, the Judicial Services Commission, which includes President Nasheed’s political rivals (such as resort tycoon and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim), have hand-picked a panel of three magistrates to oversee the case, whose names have been kept secret. This is in breach of normal practice and in violation of the Judicature Act,” the party stated.
“The coup has not been fully completed,” said MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor. “There is no point bringing President Nasheed down in a police mutiny if he then goes on to win presidential elections 18 months later. To ensure its survival, Mr Waheed’s regime needs to remove President Nasheed from the political equation and that is precisely what they intend to do.”
He noted that the UN Human Rights Committee, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, FIDH, and the Commonwealth had all have expressed concern over the independence and competence of the Maldivian judiciary and called for reform.
Police used force despite Nasheed not showing resistance: Aslam
Former Minister of Housing and Environment, who had accompanied Nasheed on the police boat along with MDP MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy and Ilyas Labeeb, told Minivan News on Monday that Nasheed had not shown any resistance to being arrested, but the police had used undue force in the arrest.
Aslam further said that the police had forced themselves into the house, damaging property in the process. He further said that the police had “pushed around” people inside the house.
In addition to riot guns, Aslam also alleged that police had been carrying firearms.
“We also later on knew that they had pistols. I don’t know what sort of pistols they were. But we saw them packing them away after escorting us on to the boat,” Aslam said.
MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik gave a press briefing following a visit to Nasheed in Dhoonidhoo on Tuesday afternoon, stating that the former president was being kept in detention outside of the normal systems and deprived of his freedoms. He said that he condemned the police treating Nasheed “like a convicted criminal”.
No force used after Nasheed was brought to Dhoonidhoo: PIC
Police Integrity Commission (PIC)’s Vice President Abdullah Waheed confirmed Tuesday that a three member team had visited Dhoonidhoo on Monday night following Nasheed’s transfer to the detention centre.
Speaking to Minivan News, Waheed said that observers had not accompanied the police who had travelled to FaresMathoda to arrest Nasheed, but had stayed at Dhoonidhoo from the time he was brought until midnight.
“During their visit to Dhoonidhoo, our team did not see any force being used against Nasheed,” Waheed said.
“We have not received any complaints from anyone alleging anything was done wrong by police during Nasheed’s arrest,” Waheed said, adding that the commission only looked into matters when an official complaint was filed.
Vice President of Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) Ahmed Tholal confirmed to Minivan News that himself and the President of HRCM Mariyam Azra had made a visit to Dhoonidhoo last night in relation to Nasheed’s arrest.
He said that more information could be provided following a commission members meeting, but did not respond to calls later.