MP of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Ahmed Sameer has called on the Prosecutor General (PG) to suspend criminal charges against those arrested during the February 8 unrest, until an independent inquiry investigated police involvement in the transfer of power the previous day.
In a letter to PG Ahmed Muizz, Sameer raised questions over the police’s ability to conduct independent and impartial investigations into public criminal offenses, alleging elements of the police and military staged a coup d’état to depose President Mohamed Nasheed and were continuing to target and attack MDP MPs and members.
“Whilst atrocities committed by the police remain uninvestigated, any investigation by police cannot be accurate. Hence, if the PG files these charges at court, can the PG be independent and impartial as guaranteed in Article 220 (a) of the constitution?” Sameer said.
Speaking to Minivan News, Sameer said he had met with the PG on Monday and that the PG was receptive to Sameer’s concerns.
President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza has accused the MDP of terrorism and said, “The government will not negotiate in releasing those arrested and charged for terrorism, will not let them be considered political prisoners.”
However, Deputy PG Hussein Shameem said no terrorism charges have been filed to date.
“We have submitted 116 cases to the criminal court. The charges we have filed regard obstruction of police duty, assault on police officers on duty, and attempt to assault police officers on duty,” Shameem said. If charges are proved, the accused may be jailed for six months or fined up to Rf 12,000 (US$800).
According to Shameem, police had initially filed 135 cases with the PG relating to the February 8 unrest; these include 42 cases from Haa Alif Atoll Kulhudhufushi, 12 from Shaviyani Atoll Milandhoo, 41 from Fuamulah Island, 24 from Haa Alif Ihavandhoo, 11 from Haa Dhaal Atoll Dhidhoo, and five cases from Haa Alif Atoll Hoarafushi.
Sameer said the eight people from his constituency of Dhidhoo charged with vandalism and closing of the Dhidhoo police station faced false charges.
He said the police had closed the station voluntarily, after the MDP controlled Dhidhoo council raised concerns of possible harm to police if the police continued to stay on duty on the day.
Although Sameer has called for suspension of prosecution until an inquiry, the possibility of an independent investigation now appears remote. The presidential commission charged with looking into the legality and legitimacy of the transfer of power has said it will not conduct a criminal investigation, and has also come under fire from MDP and civil society groups for unilateralism and lack of independence.
At the same time, the state’s independent institutions have also said investigation into the legality and legitimacy of the transfer of power is not within their mandates.
The EU, Commonwealth, MDP and local civil society groups have called for independent and impartial investigation into the alleged coup, with the involvement of international experts.