High Court rules that MPs’ police obstruction cases cannot be refiled

The High Court has today overruled a decision made by the Criminal Court to accept a previously withdrawn police obstruction case involving MPs Ali Waheed and Ahmed Mahloof.

The case was first filed in the Criminal Court by the Prosecutor General (PG) on 9 November 2010 before being withdrawn twenty days later.

The public prosecutor had argues that the initial case was only withdrawn temporarily while police investigated a related incident.

After the case was again filed in the Criminal Court, defense lawyers of Ali Waheed – which includes former Attorney General Husnu Suood – invoked procedural issues saying that the case could not be refiled.

According to the High Court, on 12 September 2012 the Criminal Court ruled it would proceed with the case, stating that the PG had full authority under the article 5 of the Prosecutor General’s Act to do so.

Ali Waheed subsequently appealed the decision at the High Court, arguing that the PG did not have the authority to re-submit a case without first bringing changes to it.

The High Court’s ruling stated that there were three situations where the PG could withdraw a case filed at a court: to revise the case, to withdraw a case without specifying any reason, or to withdraw a case after telling the court that that the office did not wish to proceed.

The ruling today said that the PG had sent a letter to the Criminal Court on November 29, 2010, asking it to send all the files concerning the case, and that the PG had not stated that the case was being withdrawn for revision.

The High Court said that PG lawyers had explained the withdrawal was because the PG had asked for police to investigate a case where a group of people stormed into the Civil Service Commission. Both cases were related, but the police had not concluded the investigation when hearings into the first case had started.

Ali Waheed was charged with obstruction of police duty during an anti-government protest he had participated in while a member of the then opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).  Waheed, who has since defected to the Maldivian Democratic Party in May 2011, was charged for breaching article 75 of Maldives Police Services Act.

During the hearings held at the High Court, Assistant Public Prosecutor Hussain Nashid claimed that the charges had only been dropped “temporarily” in a bid to respect the “fairness” of criminal trials.

Nashid also argued that the PG had the discretionary power to decide upon the procedures as to how criminal charges can be filed.

Both Waheed and Mahloof were elected to parliament as representatives of the DRP. However, following the split of the DRP into two factions, both Waheed and Mahloof chose to leave the party.

Mahloof went onto join the Progressive Party of Maldives, the party formed by followers of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.