Former president Mohamed Nasheed has called on the prosecutor general to appeal his terrorism conviction and 13 year jail term amid growing international criticism of the flawed trial.
Nasheed’s lawyers say they were unable to lodge an appeal at the high court within the shortened ten day period due to the criminal court’s failure to provide a full report of case proceedings, but say the PG can lodge an appeal at any time, “without discussions, without permission.”
Lawyer Hassan Latheef said PG Muhthaz Muhsin has an important role in “bringing an end to the distresses of the international community on his own initiative.”
The PG can uphold the constitution and “save the Maldives from the storm that is about to come from international pressure,” he added.
The UN office of the human rights commissioner on Friday said Nasheed’s trial “was vastly unfair and his conviction was arbitrary and disproportionate.”
The EU parliament last week urged the government to free Nasheed immediately, while US secretary of state John Kerry said Nasheed’s imprisonment is an “injustice that needs to be addressed soon.”
Nasheed’s wife, Laila Ali, has also asked the UN working group on arbitrary detention to rule Nasheed’s imprisonment illegal.
PG Muhsin, however, has dismissed Nasheed’s call, saying the high court would accept an appeal despite the expiration of the appeal period.
“The High Court regulation allows Nasheed to appeal the case still. Why doesn’t he do it himself? I personally think this case has a high possibility of being accepted at the high court since Nasheed is a former president, since it is related to a judge and since it is a terrorism charge.”
Muhsin said Nasheed’s lawyers are now politicizing the case.
The Supreme Court had shortened the appeal period from 90 days to 10 by annulling provisions in the judicature act, just a month before Nasheed’s arrest. The high court has previously said judges have the discretion to accept late appeals, but lawyers say the apex court’s ruling had removed the discretionary powers.
Nasheed’s lawyers had previously called on President Abdulla Yameen to reduce Nasheed’s sentence and release him under special provisions in the Clemency Act. But the president’s office has refuted the claims.
On Friday, in Geneva, a legal advisor to the UN, Mona Rishmawi also noted the clemency act provided an avenue for Nasheed’s release.
Following a visit with Nasheed in late April, Rishmawi said Nasheed “seemed to be in good spirits, but was not relaxed as he was facing 13 years in prison; he also worried a lot about his safety.”
According to the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, tens of thousands have signed a petition calling on the president to release Nasheed. Supporters attempted to deliver the petition to the president’s office on Thursday, but were turned back by the police.
The opposition’s daily protests over the imprisonment of Nasheed is continuing. Two former defence ministers and an MP have also been jailed on various charges last month.