The High Court has upheld the criminal court’s order to hold Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party chairperson Ali Waheed in remand detention for 15 days.
However, the appellate court has released Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim from police custody, overturning the criminal court’s 15-day remand order.
The three leaders of the allied opposition parties were arrested from their homes with court warrants on the night of May 1. All three subsequently filed appeals at the high court challenging the legality of the criminal court’s remand detention orders.
The arrests followed a crackdown on the May Day anti-government demonstration. Nearly 200 people were arrested after protesters clashed with riot police.
The opposition leaders were accused of inciting violence against the government and threatening police in their speeches on May 1, which police contend led to protesters assaulting police officers, damaging property, and disrupting public order and safety.
The High Court noted in the verdict in Ameen’s case that according to police an intelligence report and an audio recording of Ameen’s speech as evidence to the criminal court.
The criminal court judge accepted the report but did not accept the CD with the recording. Police had said at the appeal hearing that the report did not have a verbatim transcript of Ameen’s speech.
The criminal court judge had not determined whether Ameen had incited violence and encourage criminal offences before deciding that he posed a danger to society, the three-judge panel of the High Court ruled unanimously.
In Ali Waheed and Imran’s cases, the High Court ruled that the criminal court order was lawful. The judges dismissed procedural issues raised in the appeal and noted that police do not have to submit enough evidence to prove guilt to be granted a request for extension of detention.
However, in Ali Waheed’s case, judge Ezmirelda Zahir issued a dissenting opinion, while judges Ali Sameer and Abdulla Hameed issued the majority opinion to uphold the lower court order.
Waheed saying that protesters must go home after freeing imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed was not sufficient to determine that he threatened police or posed a danger to society, Zahir noted in her dissenting ruling.
All three were members of the opposition ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance’s steering committee, which organised the protest.
Journalists were not allowed to observe the appeal hearings under a new rule that bars media from appeals of detention orders.
The criminal court has meanwhile issued an arrest warrant for JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, who is currently out of the country. The business tycoon is accused of funding the May Day demonstration.