Journalists banned from Deputy Speaker corruption trial

The Criminal Court refused to allow journalists to observe today’s hearing of the ongoing corruption trial of Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim, who is facing charges of multiple counts of conspiracy to defraud the former Atolls Ministry.

Local daily Haveeru and Sun Online reports that the hearing was scheduled to start at 12:00pm but was conducted one hour earlier at 11:00pm. The court did not inform any of the reporters who registered at the court this morning of the time change.

According to Haveeru, court reporters who learned of the time change and requested entry were told that “the judge has decided to hold a closed hearing.”

Asked by the reporters to offer a reason for the closed hearing, the court official asked the reporters to wait, went inside and did not appear until the hearing was over.

Almost two hours after the hearing concluded, Criminal Court Media Officer Ahmed Mohamed Manik told the court reporters that they were not allowed to enter because “negative perceptions of the court were being created [among the public] because of some journalists.”

Manik was not responding to Minivan News at the time of press.

Queried by the court reporters, the Criminal Court official insisted that the judge was authorised to exclude the public from trials under article 42 of the constitution.

Article 42(c) states that, “Trials of any matter shall be held publicly, but the presiding judge may exclude the public from all or part of a trial in accordance with democratic norms: 1. in the interests of public morals, public order or national security; 2. where the interest of juveniles or the victims of a crime so require; or 3. in other special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.”

However, according to Haveeru, a member of the public was allowed to attend today’s hearing. Under normal court procedure, only trials involving child sexual abuse are closed to the public.

The Criminal Court has since issued a press statement explaining that the judge decided to hold a closed hearing “because the reporters allowed in to the hearing on May 24, 2011, gave the false depiction of the court to the public and because the court believes this depiction could obstruct the course of justice.”

Nazim meanwhile appeared at court today after reportedly failing to comply with eight summons during the past few months.

The minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) parliamentary group leader is facing four counts of conspiracy to defraud to the Atolls Ministry, which were first identified in an audit report of the now-defunct ministry.

Following an investigation into the claims in the report, at a press conference in August 2009, Chief Inspector Ismail Atheef said police had uncovered evidence that implicated former Atolls Minister Abdullah Hameed, Eydhafushi MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem, former director of finance at the ministry, and Nazim in a number of fraudulent transactions.

Police exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and forged cheques showing that Nazim received over US$400,000 in the scam.

A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May 2009 allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letter heads.

Police maintained that money was channelled through the scam to Nazim who laundered cash through Namira Engineering and unregistered companies.


10 thoughts on “Journalists banned from Deputy Speaker corruption trial”

  1. Really surprised by Honorable judge’s decision only to ban journalist from court hearing of Honorable Ahmed Nazim; His Owner should have banned everyone including his Clerk out judicial chambers, than only he can bestow proper judgments.
    Sham on this kind of guys!

  2. if only Minivan is really concerned about issues like this...

    media is a powerful tool which can do tremendous good. but if media is used to promote atheism or blast islam (like Minivan often do) then real newsworthy corruption stories like this take an ordinary position and everyone becomes complacent over time.

    What is lacking here is real sense of anger incitement for ppl to action to fight against this mockery of justice.

  3. Why are we not surprised by this? As @peasant said, the public just felt better about our courts!

    I've never heard of such a "democratic" measure by any democratic country anywhere in the world.

    Who wants to bet that The Dishonourable Jangiyaa will sail through this case. I bet that the judge will find "insufficient evidence" to prosecute The Jangiyaa. I am so confident of this that, if I'm proved wrong, I vow to pay a months wages to charity!

  4. Nowhere in the story has it been indicated that journalists were "banned." It would have been accurate if the headline read: "Journalists barred from Deputy Speaker corruption trial"

  5. To expound on what I wrote earlier, people cannot be banned. Journalists are people, as such they can only be barred. It is actions that can be banned. Thus “Media coverage of Deputy Speaker corruption trial banned” or “Journalists barred from Deputy Speaker corruption trial”

  6. Welcome to Anni Dhivehirajje, where there is not freedom of media and suppression of the journalism.

  7. This Judge should be removed. If Media distorts the truth about Judges, then they should file a case of defamation against the reporter.
    This closed door authority is not in the Constitution and this Judge is making this up as he goes along and should be thrown out.

  8. The judge is afraid that he would get puffed if orders given by his "caretaker" are not followed to the hilt!

    It is very likely that there would be something insufficient for this case and it will be drained down the usual line!


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