The High Court has scheduled a hearing for January 28 in former President Mohamed Nasheed’s appeal case into the legitimacy of the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court.
The case, which challenges the legality of the bench assembled to try Nasheed for the January 2012 detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, has been stalled since April 2013.
Hisaan Hussain from the opposition leader’s legal team said that the former president and his representatives have received the chits from the High Court regarding the hearing.
“The chits from the high court said it was a preliminary hearing,” said Hisaan.
“However these kind of meetings are usually where documents are exchanged and do not happen in the middle of an ongoing trail, therefore we are regarding this as a hearing.”
Meanwhile, in a press statement today the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said that Nasheed has been “receiving threats that he will be arrested as soon as he returns to the Maldives” from his visit to Abu Dhabi.
Nasheed – who has recently urged the government to expedite the trial – tweeted today that he will be cutting his trip short after hearing of the government’s intentions to arrest him and will arrive tomorrow afternoon.
The former president was arrested in October 2012 after the Hulhumale Magistrate Court issued a warrant following his failure to adhere to court summons.
Also charged with the detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed were prominent figures from the Nasheed government, including Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has subsequently said it will not be withdrawing with the charges against the new defence minister, while President’s Office Spokesman Ibrahim Muaz told Minivan News that the cases of Jaleel and Nazim are not comparable.
“There is a massive difference between security services finding dangerous weapons and an ongoing case intiated by a previous administration. The president has decided to trust Jaleel even with the pending case,” said Muaz.
In a statement today, the MDP noted that the threats to arrest Nasheed come at a time when “President Yameen’s government has been threatening various political figures while undermining the Constitution”.
Chief among the complaints levelled against the government are recent amendments to the Judicature Act which saw the removal of two of the Supreme Court’s seven judges.
Also included in the amendments was the division of the nine-member High Court into three regional branches, with only the Malé branch allowed to hear challenges to laws and regulations.
Speaking at a party rally last weekend, Nasheed suggested the president had been attempting to strike a deal regarding the charges related to Abdulla Mohamed’s detention. “I am the bad guy,” he reminded the president.
Last November, Nasheed also told the press that the judge’s detention had been wrong, blaming his former defense minister Tholhath Ibrahim for the decision.
Nasheed has appealed at the High Court against the legitimacy of the Hulhumalé Magistrates bench – assembled by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – saying that judges on the bench on cases must be appointed by the senior judge of the court, arguing that such decisions were beyond the remit of the judicial watchdog.
He has also questioned the establishment of a Magistrates Court in the Malé suburb, arguing that Hulhumalé is considered to be part of Malé City under the Decentralisation Act and therefore require a separate Magistrates Court.
Other critics of the court included then-JSC members Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman and former Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who argued that the judicial watchdog had acted unconstitutionally in assigning magistrates to a particular case.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul, noted at the time that the “appointment of judges to the case, has been set up in an arbitrary manner outside the parameters laid out in the laws”.
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