Hulhumalé Magistrate Court case to resume hearings on February 3

The High Court has today informed both President Mohamed Nasheed and the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) as to how the case on the legality of the Hulhumalé Magistrates Court bench will proceed.

Nasheed’s legal team member Hassan Latheef told Minivan News that today’s meeting was conducted by High Court Judge Abbas Shareef, with the JSC and Nasheed’s representatives informed that a hearing of the case would be held on February 3.

They were also informed that each party would receive a ten minute opportunity to summarise their responses during this hearing, and to raise further points regarding procedural issues raised before hearings halted in April 2013.

The judicial watchdog has raised a procedural issue claiming that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to oversee the case.

The resumption of the case, which challenges the legality of the bench assembled to try Nasheed for the January 2012 detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, was announced one week ago after repeated requests from the former president to expedite proceedings.

Hassan Latheef that Nasheed’s legal team raised several points today, including the small amount of time that each party will be given to present arguments in the next hearing and also the need for further time to review and research the case after recent developments in the judicial system.

“There have been significant changes to the whole judiciary, judges have been transferred, benches reduced and High Court now has two new branches. All this has an impact on the procedural issue raised by JSC. This is why we need more time”, said. Latheef.

He also said that judge Abbas Shareef has agreed to reconsider the request by Nasheed’s legal team for a one and a half month delay of the trial after discussion with the two other judges presiding over the case – Judge Ali Sameer and Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya.

Nasheed’s lawyers have previously challenged – unsuccessfully – 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 does not require a separate court.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul has previously noted 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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