Go through process, but do not allow trial to disenfranchise former president: McKinnon

While the Maldives’ judiciary is “not the strongest of the democratic institutions in the Maldives”, the international spotlight would encourage a fair trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed, Sir Don McKinnon has told ABC Radio Australia.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Maldives told the channel that the international community was watching the matter “very closely”.

Nasheed was arrested by the police on Monday acting on a warrant from the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, where the Prosecutor General has filed charges concerning the former president’s detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, while in office.

Nasheed has maintained that the detention was justified on grounds of national security following the failure of other institutions to hold the judge accountable, and alleged that the charges against him are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting the 2013 elections.

“All the major players that have been talking to the Maldives recently are also saying go through your processes, but do not allow this to disenfranchise the former president,” McKinnon told ABC Radio.

Asked whether he shared Nasheed’s concerns that he would not be tried fairly, “I think on this particular case [the judiciary] know very well that there’s more than just a few Maldivian people watching this trial.”

“The international players are watching and I believe that the Maldivian judiciary will be very careful,” McKinnon said.

“It certainly can be fair and it should be fair. These people know exactly what is expected of a judiciary, but there is a high level of political sensitivity in that country, there’s a tense atmosphere which does get more difficult from time to time. But there is still the possibility of having a fair trial, yes,” he said.

Asked about the country’s future, McKinnon suggested that “we who live in Western countries expect things to happen very fast. I began my dealings with the Maldives probably about seven years ago, encouraging them to have a new constitution, have free and fair elections, which they did. And that was the first time they’d really had free and fair elections in 2008.

“Now on that basis Maldives democracy is really only four years old, so there’s still a lot of elbowing people around, much of the political structure within the Maldives is based on personalities, there’s not great ideological divides, there are six or seven different parties in and out of the margins right now. There are many things that it is grappling with that it’s never had to grapple with before, and the important thing is the international community give them support to allow this very fledgling democracy to mature.”

Failure to defend democracy

Former President Nasheed has meanwhile told the UK’s Guardian newspaper that the international community had failed to defend democracy in the Maldives, saying that it was “difficult for me to believe that democracy is sacred for the international community”.

“The people of the Maldives have lost faith with the international community … which has taken a very narrow view,” Nasheed told the paper.

“It is very certain that they can’t win [the election] with me [standing] as a candidate so they are trying all sorts of ways to stop me … It is really quite chilling,” he said, noting that his party had decided to boycott the election if he was excluded from running.

“No travel ban”

The government has meanwhile issued a statement noting concerns raised by the UK, US and European Union regarding the arrest of Nasheed.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon – daughter of Nasheed’s predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – said the government was “fully committed to strengthening democracy and rule of law in the Maldives”.

“[Nasheed was released from police custody after the first hearing. He was taken into custody following a court order issued by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, after he ignored court summons and refused to appear for the first hearing of the case which had been originally scheduled for 1 October 2012 and rescheduled for 7 October 2012,” she said.

“Contrary to claims by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and also by Amnesty International, police did not use excessive force during the arrest of the former President Nasheed. His safety and security had been the priority and no one was harmed or pepper sprayed during the operation,” the statement read.

“The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) had been invited to observe the operation. While in custody, former President Nasheed was afforded the right to an attorney and meet with his family members. There is no travel ban on him and he is currently travelling out to some of the atolls.”


20 thoughts on “Go through process, but do not allow trial to disenfranchise former president: McKinnon”

  1. Now I am sure MDP will say even Sir Don is a traitor. I was a bit surprised that MDP mouth piece "Minivan" actually carried this interview, as the full interview is so contrary to nasheed's story and the lies he is spreading internationally. Sir Don has rightly pointed out the difference between government (executive) and judiciary. There isn't much the government can do in this trial. Why haven't Amnesty re-tracted their statement, as their statement (allegations) has proven to be wrong? the video footage of the arrest does not show any brutality or violence. police officers were refering to nasheed as "Sir". "whatever Sir wants, we will do". Nasheed saying, 'i got the photo that i wanted for the international press' is so damning to nasheed and anyone who listened to it. his international credibility is now dwindling.

  2. Using commonwealth as your handle is really sorry state. Desperate to be frank. Let your arguments stand for itself.

  3. The most absurd case you can imagine. The case is about to why the state has arrested an innocent person and deprived his freedom. This sounds very romantic and just case. But where is the system within judiciary or any legal institution to investigate and clear that semi evolved Abdulla was innocent.
    Why Abdulla is so special when his integrity is in question that every muscle in the country has to be wasted to show his arrest was unlawful. Some people would say, Anni has side stepped from constitutional frame work which is the judiciary itself. But how about the question that arises from the fact that this unconstitutional government legalized by an independent commission by endorsing the transfer of power was according to constitution has in the same token claimed judiciary was not up to any standard to uphold democracy. Why double standard in accepting Coni report? Why pick and chose. If Coni report was right than Anni was right to reform judiciary and all his action was legal to arrest the most corrupted judge. On the other hand if the intention of prosecutor general is to give justice to that criminal judge, why government has not heeded coni report and did not reform judiciary before prosecuting Anni through the same judiciary who he never accepted and his claim was endorsed by the same commission who gave legality to this coup government to operate.
    Also everybody should now consider questioning the sanity of that overweight diabetic prosecutor general who seems has not correctly evolved his prefrontal cortex and rather judging from his limbic system.

  4. I like how the journalist has omitted some parts of the conversation, wherever it conflicts with MDP's ideology, its good in a way because Maldivians do not deserve to know anything which MDP does not endorse, but I thought that maybe, I should paste some excerpts of the interview.

    COCHRANE: Mr Nasheed's party and Mr Nasheed himself says that he can't expect a fair trial in the Maldives. Do you agree with that?

    MCKINNON: Well you hear that actually from both sides depending on the view. We have said that the judiciary is not the strongest of the democratic institutions in the Maldives. It is getting better, but I think on this particular case they know very well that there's more than just a few Maldivian people watching this trial. The international players are watching and I believe that the Maldivian judiciary will be very careful.

    COCHRANE: Having ousted a democratically elected leader, is the Commonwealth worried that the Maldives could perhaps go down the path of Fiji?

    MCKINNON: Well I've got to back up a little bit on that one because ever since I was involved I was very much insistent on having a very close forensic look at the issue of the transfer of power, and yes there were three Maldivian gentlemen who were part of this inquiry, but I insisted this had to be very much an international orientated inquiry, and the result was we had a judge from Canada, a judge from New Zealand and a retired judge from Singapore, all sat on this commission of inquiry, and concluded at the end of the day that the transfer of power was legitimate, that President Nasheed had in fact resigned.

  5. The executive is married to judiciary and this was the reason for an illegitmate coup government! The fraternity of justice was in a symbiosis with a political party and was seen from controversial judgements

  6. The corrupt judicary are determined to remove Nasheed candidacy for the next election for the super rich. This is part of the coup masterplan. There will be a petty punishment tagged with this to fool the watching world. But Democracy has been taken from the people.

  7. @nasir:

    My god your misunderstanding of the facts is so alarming. Rather than attack you as some would I for one will try and engage with you in a civilized manner.

    - One the case of Nasheed being brought to court under police custody does not amount to the arrest of an "innocent person". Nasheed was "deprived of his freedom" under the law. The law of the Maldives or I sincerely believe any jurisdiction in the world, is that someone charged of a criminal offense is expected to respond to a court summons served on them. Nasheed refused to respond to two such summons after which the court requested the police to bring him before the court to answer the charges against him.

    - The system to investigate Justice Abdulla Mohamed exists. It is called the Judicial Service Commission. The problem lies in the JSC's inability to perform its constitutional duty. The JSC failed to be bound by its own rules of procedure by refusing to give Abdulla Moahmed a chance to rebut the charges against him during the ongoing inquiry against the Judge. Also the substance of the inquiry is that Abdulla Mohamed stands accused of making public statements criticizing police conduct during the Nasheed regime. The criticism was about police conduct in general however the JSC believes the comments can be construed as political. Therefore an inquiry was begun into whether the comments require disciplinary action against the Judge. However the Civil Court rightfully granted an interim injunction to delay the inquiry until they could decide whether the JSC could complete an inquiry without granting the accused a right to a fair hearing.

    - If Ex-President Mohamed Nasheed has "sidestepped" the constitutional framework as "some would say" he should stand trial for it. Sidestepping the constitutional framework is a serious charge in any jurisdiction in the entire world.

    - The current government came to power through the Constitution according to an inquiry which is backed by the Commonwealth, US, UK and EU AND most importantly Nasheed himself until Nasheed was provided a leaked copy of the Commission's findings.

    - The current government never claimed that the judiciary is not up to the standard to uphold democracy. Where did you get that idea?

    - If the CoNI report is right, the Ex-President Nasheed's claims of a coup is false. CoNI was constituted to inquire whether the transfer of power this year was constitutional or not. That is all. Whatever other comments the Commission made falls outside its mandate. However those comments themselves were helpful in pointing out that Nasheed was no saint during the rest of his tenure as well.

    - The Prosecutor General is not a civil rights advocate. He upholds the law. Nasheed breached the law hence the PG is legally bound to charge Nasheed. A criminal suit is not the same as a civil suit. This is hard for a layman to understand. However if you are interested in the law please read more on the difference.

    - Not accepting the judiciary is not an excuse that makes you exempt from the law. Not accepting the judiciary merely makes you an anarchist and a fool.

    - Using googled medical terms to make personal attacks against a person filling a constitutional post does not reduce his stature in front of the law. The person you are referring to was appointed to the post of PG by none other than Nasheed himself and was endorsed in that post by a near-unanimous vote from Parliament.

    - Also how a person can make a judgment about the functioning of another person's limbic system just because of a criminal prosecution escapes me.

  8. Minivan, you may not find it easy to say that the judiciary in Maldives is the worst of the worst institution in this country!

    Also you may find it difficult to point anything at the PG whose capability, ability and will is in question now!

    But as a Maldivian and a patriot, I will say that our judiciary is corrupted from top to bottom and it needs TOTAL replacement (not overhaul).

    The judiciary engine must be disengaged from all its attachments.
    Everything must be removed and replaced!

    As for the PG, he also has to be immediately removal because because it is beyond doubt that he has nothing else in his mind other than prosecuting President Nasheed to find him guilty and ensure that Nasheed is not a bother for his loving uncle's bid for presidency!

    I cannot see that Sir Don McKinnon know what cunning these people can have up their sleeves to say it as diplomatically or mellow as it is mentioned.

    Sir Don, if you do not mention the exact word, and as shallow as an idiot or a fool can understand, this regime will twist it to their advantage and go on media saying nothing against them is being said or imposed!

    If the international community is seeing this as they see it and fail to act properly now; Maldivians are in grave danger!

    If Sir Don McKinnon, and the major players as said, are to give anything to the people of Maldives, they must make sure that:

    1. President Nasheed is not to be accused for the sake of defaming him or for this regime to laugh at and enjoy.

    2. Also they must make sure that President Nasheed is not disqualified howsoever, such that he will be barred from campaigning for or contesting 2013 presidential election, or is put behind bars before this government strictly comply with recommendations lined out in the CoNI report!

    As a Maldivian, I would urge Sir Don McKinnon and the major players to think deep and do justice to the Maldivians!

  9. @tsk tsk
    I think you have misinterpreted “The case is about to why the state has arrested an innocent person and deprived his freedom”, I was not referring the arrest of Anni, this reference was about the arrest of Gazi by Anni. And the absurd case is what PG has sent based on the same claim of the above.

    Secondly, this whole case is not about a criminal charge as you conceptualize based on your limbic judgment, because this is the area in the brain where emotion supersedes rationalism. To any rational thinker this case is purely political.

    Thirdly, this case about Anni got legal leverage by using Coni report but the coup government has forgotten that in the same Report Coni has said the judiciary has to be reformed in order to have functioning democratic institutions. So to speak the coup government is not legal unless judiciary is reformed and without proper judiciary the constitution is defunct.
    If PG was appointed by Anni you are implying that his action against Anni cannot be criticized based on the ground reality, because he was anni’s man. Where is your logic here? From your point of view our justification of any man’s action against anyone has to be based on their relationship. I doubt now and think that you your self is the PG who really lacks cognitive ability to rationalize your thoughts due to medical condition you have.

  10. yes @nasir. this case is politically motivated but the most important, or perhaps the only question is, did anni order the arrest of abdullah gazee? if yes was it legal?

    you be the judge!

  11. No need for personal attacks Nasir.

    Here's how I see this may develop. Anni will be found guilty, no doubt about that. He locked up a judge without due process.

    When he was in the UK recently he was interviewed and said himself "perhaps I shouldn't have done that"

    He will get a light sentence but that will be enough to bar him from the 2013 election. MDP will put up a second presidential candidate and MDP might win.

    Once in power, they will strive to make Hulhumale court invalid (on legal technicalities) and invalidate all judgments passed by that court. If successful, Anni can then be president but I'd then anticipate a power struggle within MDP.

  12. Anyone who advocates for this political trial using the "up hold constitution and rule of law" argument is a naive fool or a callous bandit.

    The judiciary "has problems", everyone seems to agree on this. What is ignored is the question- What makes the judiciary imperfect? A perfect judiciary is non existent and all citizens take their chances in countries around the world. But what we are calling out here is, that this a kangaroo court, part of a judiciary which has consistently proven to be lackeys of the current ruling clan. We have seen everything which Nasheed has done in defiance of the judiciary before and we have also seen the (lack of) consequences.

    It is ironic that the current judges were sworn in by ruling clan by interpreting several inconvenient clauses in the constitution as "spiritual". President Nasheed is charged for violating the same constitution which was violated to allow certain ex criminals, incompetents and henchmen of the old dictator to be sworn in as judges.

    I am all for justice and upholding the law. But selective justice is injustice. Especially when the stakes mean that it takes out the only credible opposition to the ruling military backed puppet president and his plutocratic masters.

  13. Of course, Sir McKinnon has failed to live up to the expectations of those against the coup that pulled the government of Nasheed down on February 7. The facts of the case show quite clearly that Nasheed was forced to resign and the force used against him was unlawful.

    The coup leaders have accused him of violating the Constitution by ordering the detention by MNDF of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, which is no more than detaining any other individual. In this case, the action that could be taken against him is impeachment by the parliament. The security forces are not allowed to take any action against the president violating the law or the Constitution. It is not their business.

    However, on February 7, the police and the MNDF rose in rebellion against Nasheed and amid the mutiny and violence dominated by the forces Nasheed was given an ultimatum to resign in an hour negotiated by a critical participant, as was referred to in the CNI report, and some senior officers of the MNDF. Else, the latter threatened Nasheed his and family’s security cannot be guaranteed.

    If this were not intimidation or coercion resulting in the resignation by Nasheed what could have resulted it in?

    Certainly, it cannot be said to be voluntary. A voluntary resignation does not need the security forces in mutiny and rise in rebellion inasmuch as these do not require the resignation itself. It is apparent, therefore, there was more than just a mutiny and rebellion against Nasheed’s government. It was the threat that he must resign or risk danger to his life and family’s.

    This is unlawful. The security forces are under a constitutional duty to protect both the Constitution and government, therefore, the president and his family against danger from within or outside the security forces. The president forced unlawfully to resign makes the resignation unlawful and ineffective, and, therefore, it is unconstitutional for his VP Dr Manik to take over and form a government.

  14. What free and fair trial when already there is influence?
    JSC while it has the power to appoint judges to Courts, do not have the jurisdiction to assign benches for trials as been done in the case of President Nasheed's trial.
    If I know how the JSC operates, clearly, it is his political opponents, Speaker Abdulla Shahid, MP Qasim Ibrahim and AG Azima Shakoor together with the judges and others in JSC bound by their breach of Article 285 who decided the bench.
    And they, in fact, are the defendants in this case.
    Read my Inside Story on "the making of Judge Ablo," JSC Constitution breach and hijack of Judiciary.

  15. What a festival of word digestion this “read” has been. Once again I’m at a loss for words of praise at the editorial policy that allows such diverse comments irrespective of their own sympathies & so journalistic slant. Having said that I was happily surprised to see Sir McKinnon’s answers to questions put to him more or less reflected ground realities. This would no doubt go a long way to win the confidence of Maldivians in the organization he represents & other international partners keen to see Democracy take root in the Maldives.

    I’m sure we all enjoyed your input. We have duly taken note of your “medical pedigree” and not a little impressed. It’s not often that Medicos venture out on a critical analysis of finer details in Law. Thus you may be excused for lacunae in this attempt. Perhaps your conclusions and expectations with regards to dealing with judges & the judiciary & its reforms maybe more consistent within a monarchy and we were dealing with “King Nasheed I” like the dear leader Kim Jong I. Mercifully we are in a functional Democracy albeit a very young one so we need to respect the separation of the 3 arms of the state. Put it mildly to interference in the judiciary under any pretext would been rolling back the Democratic reforms put in place by Gayoom & effectively going back 30 years. We have a constitution how it should be done.

    @ Tsk Tsk
    Brilliant and masterly. Thank you for the master class. I’m one of those who have succumbed to Velez Inés judicial charms and her never ending chorus of the failings of the JSC & the Parliament. Your master class has restored some sanity in my brain. I was on the road to being a complete heretic rejecting the judiciary, the parliament and the Govt and becoming a high priest in the MDP –of course following in her footsteps. Thank-you for providing the intellectual basis for my civic salvation. I must say I’m still getting to terms with the brilliance in your comment. Also may I add that anyone interested in the strides that the Judiciary has made in the Maldives Dr. Hassan Saeed’s article in Haveeru today is another masterly work. With more and more such people in the country one has great hope for our fledgling Democracy. Thank God! & about time too.

    As for laughing at President Nasheed who can u blame? It was just too hilarious, and we were holding our sides and laughing with the president Nasheed taking on his most adept role as “joker” with his typical comments on the “short loin clothes” in the company of MDP ladies in Neverland. What don’t we have?

    Guess what? DEMOCRACY ROCKS! Smile guys SMILE!

  16. Yes this case is politically motivated? Then what about the case with Judge Abdulla ? It was to threat the people of Maldives and show the power of Anni ?

    Neither Anni nor Judge is clean both are corrupt people and both is a threat to this young democracy.

    Anni locked the supreme court to show his power and frighten the people.

    Anni arrested the judge thinking the Maldivian will be afraid of Anni and will never be able to speak against his illegal actions.

    Anni arrested senior political figures to threaten the public and show his power , thinking that we the Maldivian will be afraid of his as he keep on telling public that one will not know what he is capable of doing and what evil he will play against the people who does not agree with his views.

    Anni resignation may consider as not voluntary but it is due to his continuous breach of the constitution and the pressure put on him to get back into the legal systems .

    Anni , we all have seen many Maldivian had been calling his resignation for multiple reasons and those reasons were justified reasons and that is why he resigned.

    I have no doubt that a guy like him who is sole purpose of life is to be the President and rob this country wealth, will not resign without any reason and reasons are clear for majority of Maldives .

  17. Maldivians may not have justice from the existing courts, Majlis, and Independant Commissions. Justice may not be served from independant committees of investigations. Even the International community can be manipulated to avoid justice and camouflage the truth. Well well .... is it the end to Justice.??? ... Dosent look like so isn't it??. Sometimes justice may appear in ways that we never thought of or imagined, and may even shock us ..... Play with the truth .... mix the truth in your broth with all other ingrediants ....shake n shake ... but finally like oil the truth always comes up to the surface ...

  18. @ Mody
    You wrote “I have no doubt that a guy like him who is sole purpose of life is to be the President and rob this country wealth, will not resign without any reason and reasons are clear for majority of Maldives “…..

    “WILL NOT RESIGN WITHOUT ANY REASON” – These key words has intrigued me from the first day.

    I confess that my vote went to the man and helped him get elected. With his demonstration of his inability to offer political leadership in a challenging situation with a hostile parliament and a judiciary reveling in its new found independence my enamourment FAST changed to contempt. Come on! Arresting political opponents, kidnapping judges, bribing parliament members and threatening on stage the public was just too much for a person who saw the man as a “political Messiah”- offering freedom, dignity and rule of law.

    Gosh! I’m again letting my frustrations get the better of me! A man so obsessed with power, why did he resign? What is the secret?

    None of the investigations throw light on this. Was he drunk? Was he incapacitated due to Marijuana? Was he plain afraid that things would repeat as the first president? What was it? What changed after he was escorted back home? Who twisted his arm to recant? Is the man under some unseen force? Millions of dollars are being spent on his PR blitz in UK & USA and it’s paying off judging from the high profile backing he is getting. Who is footing the bill? (At some point we would need more legislation on party funding) Something is wrong somewhere, but where? I leave you with President Nosheed’s exclamation at the point of arrest to the effect that after all, the whole drama of the campaign, the contempt of court was a photo shoot.

    Whoever is behind Nasheed must be appalled at the fact that all the evidence they had from the clinical execution of his arrest was a 1mm scratch on the pretty ankle of one of his aides (which for sure was shown on twitter as evidence for police violence ), and a comically deflated MP Aslam –. I realize this smack of “conspirator theory”. Whatever it is the resignation & the recant 24 hours later after a good night’s sleep and perhaps a pow-wow just don’t gel.

    @ Tsk Tsk
    How I wish you would indulge the beautiful young Velez Inés. The master class I’m sure would benefit her and a lot of us novices of law and look forward to it with much relish.

  19. Dont believe that indulging in a bit of booze and grass would have made anni resign. Those stimulants work the other way.

  20. @Ah mad:

    All joking aside, the judiciary does need defending. We cannot constantly attack an institution and all the human resource within it and call it pressure for reform.

    Our institutions are young. The judiciary, the Executive, the Civil Service, the Parliament and the constitutional oversight bodies all need strengthening. I don't disagree with that. However the "methods" employed by Nasheed et. al. and the illustrious Ms. Velezinee leave much to be desired.

    Judicial reform cannot come about through attacks carried out for the benefit of political interests.

    Your sarcasm bites, but it was never my intention to masquerade as a legal expert. For all you know I might be selling store bought mangoes from a pushcart. However if I have misstated any facts or offered an unacceptable explanation do please point it out.


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