Participation of UK legal experts in Nasheed trial a “unique challenge”

A Maldivian legal expert has described the use of foreign legal experts in the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed as “unique”, pointing out that the Maldivian legal system makes it particularly difficult for such experts to contribute to proceedings.

Mohamed Shafaz Wajeeh, a practising layer in Male’ and former Director of the Legal Director at the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) said that while foreign advisers to corporate clients was fairly common, foreign experts for a specific criminal case was not.

“From a common law/international standards perspective, I believe foreign legal involvement is very much prevalent, especially if you consider the number of foreign legal experts who would be advising corporate clients operating in the Maldives in resorts, major telecom providers etc,” Wajeeh told Minivan News.

“However, the Nasheed trial is unique in that common law/international standards perspective expertise is being brought in for stated involvement in a specific criminal court case, as part of the defense team, not merely on a corporate/commercial transactional matter in an advisory capacity,” he added.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) revealed earlier this month that it was to add the expertise of two UK-based lawyers to the legal team working on the Judge Abdulla Mohamed detention case.

Sir Ivan Lawrence QC and Barrister Ali Mohammed Azhar were brought in to work alongside Hisaan Hussain, Abdulla Shair. On Thursday, it was announced that Kirsty Brimelow QC – a human rights expert – would also join Nasheed’s defense team.

Azhar is an expert in Shariah law – the Maldives legal system encompasses a combination of common and Shariah legal practices.

“It is not uncommon for foreign legal experts to be involved in transactional matters in an advisory capacities, but virtually never as Shari’ah experts (in recent history),” said Wajeeh. “What’s unique is for foreign legal experts to be involved in a criminal case – in the defence team, and especially in a court case.”

Lawrence, Azhar and Brimelow will work alongside Hisaan Hussain, Abdulla Shair, Hassan Latheef and Ahmed Adbulla Afeef – although the latter two have been barred from appearing in court on technical grounds.

Afeef will not be allowed to attend the hearings in an official capacity after failing to sign the Supreme Court’s new “Regulation on Lawyers practicing law in the courts of Maldives”.

Wajeeh cited this particular regulation as “disturbing” and “dangerous” – further sign, he feels, of the need for major reform of the judicial arm of the state which he described as undeveloped and “primeval”.

Latheef cannot appear as he has been listed by the Prosecutor General (PG) as a witness to the detention of the Judge. Latheef described the inclusion of his name on this list as unnecessary and “irrelevant” as the judge’s detention was not in question.

In the press release announcing Brimelow’s inclusion in the case, appearing on Nasheed’s website, it was acknowledged that legal restrictions would also prevent any of the UK experts appearing in court.

“I imagine they would be severely restricted – if not intentionally, then due to the structure of the legal system,” said Wajeeh.

“Foreign legal experts can’t attend as lawyers, they can’t attend in Nasheed’s stead either (only lawyers may represent individuals in criminal cases),” he added.

“I’m not really sure if they can sit at the bench even. My understanding would be, if the foreign legal experts are to be allowed into the Court room at all, they would have to go in and sit in the public gallery,” he continued.

Latheef explained that Ms Brimelow was the only member of the legal team scheduled to be present in Male’ for the trial, and that the team would be applying for a permit from the Attorney General to allow her to appear in court.

“This has been done once before,” explained Latheed, “although the lawyer involved was married to a Maldivian.”

Wajeeh also noted that there were certain procedural factors which would make it difficult for UK experts to fully participate in the case, in particular the use of Dhivehi in the courts without English translation services being readily available.

“The foreign lawyers would of course be free to offer their views and opinions to the appointed defence team on drafting submissions and responses in defence of Nasheed, given the documents are efficiently translated for their use,” explained Wajeeh.

“This would mean they could play a minimal role in the formal hearing, although could potentially play a crucial role in how the defence argument takes shape.”

Nasheed’s trial continues tomorrow at 4:00pm at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, which is has been temporarily relocated to Male’ for the purpose of the case.


12 thoughts on “Participation of UK legal experts in Nasheed trial a “unique challenge””

  1. The legal justice is on toilet ball from the president palace built by Gayoom to spend 130. Million from the Government Budget for there expenditure.

    The coup with the collision and the Gayoom has captured Justice,and the Police is still command by the Old dictator of the country.

    Maldives is flowing a new constitution, but the justice is under Gayoom's command his word is law like the old fashion justice system of the Maldives and hunting for the same person Mahamed Naseed

    I can remember Gayoom telling me this thatt he is going to put Anni in to prison, he wanted my Member ship for MMP.Gayoom did ask for it.

    I went and told this to Nasheed Mum, Dad and uncle Abjee that Gayoom is working to put Anni in to prison,and he has told me this also I met some of the British consecutive Party Members in Haruge I evan told them that Gayoom is working to put Naseed in to Prison and have ask my Member ship to join PPM. the next thing what Gayoom told me is that Naseed or MDP government will never be able to bring any settlement to the county, the man behind for unsettle the Nation is Maumoon Abdull Gayoom with Dr.Waheed like a puppet in his fingers

  2. @Mohamed Naseem
    You forget to mention the power hungry character Hassan Saeed and Bondibaiy Jameel in your comment. I hear Hassan Saeed is running the nation as Vice president.

  3. I dont find any difference in the past 33 years.
    Nasheed and Maumoon did the same things.
    Lawyers from different jurisdictions should not be allowed to attend.

  4. The Supreme Code's infamous Code of Conduct for barristers appearing in Maldivian court's truly is a troublesome document.

    For one thing it takes the form of a binding declaration. For another it also forms a precondition for lawyers wishing to advocate in Maldivian courts. Thirdly, it requires lawyers to register declarations separately within the jurisdiction of each court.

    While some parts of the Supreme Court's of Conduct introduces several revolutionary concepts such as a duty of care for lawyers in advising clients and exacting fees for legal services, the problem lies with the source as well as the mode of regulation.

    The solution to this issue lies in fast-tracking the Legal Practice Bill which has been published on the Attorney Generals Office (

    If passed, this Bill will introduce a Bar Council to the Maldives for the first time which will work to regulate the legal field.

    The Bar Council will hopefully set standards for legal training provided at the Maldives National University's Faculty of Shariah and Law as well as the Institute of Islamic Research in the Maldives (both institutions practically sell degrees to students with little or no qualification at the moment).

    The Bar Council will also prevent inexperienced lawyers from jumping into the courts right after receiving their degree, requiring them to read under an experienced practitioner before becoming a barrister.

    The Legal Practice Bill is passed will also prevent charlatans and frauds with little to no legal experience from masquerading as experts based on a title granted to them only on the basis of their undergraduate degree.

    I hope the public find this Bill doubly important because lawyers are the pool from which our judges are selected thereby shaping our judiciary.

  5. Security forces have taken control through a coup and installed a puppet president to make this system look like democracy.

    It is not possible what effect a bar council or what ever can have a place here except the injustice we see happening here daily.

    Unless and otherwise the peoples rise and give them a worthwhile measure, nothing meaningful can happen here in the Maldives.

    No one wants a system of good governance where justice can or will have its rightful place here!

  6. Here there is no case, its crystal clear, he is guilty of what he did, only a verdict will close the case.

  7. the precedents set by courts clearly states that a person who gives an illegal order is not doing a criminal act but those who fulfill the order and act on it are criminals. In Jangiyaa Naxims case he ordered his staff to forge documents and submit bids under names of companies not in existence. But Court ruled he was not guilty of fraud but his staff who obeyed him and forged documents were guilty. In case of shooting in Maafushi jail also Court ruled that the commander in chief who ordered shooting is not guilty while the uniformed men who shot and killed or injured unarmed prisoners was guilty.
    So if the court follows the precedents set by court in earlier cases let alone an illegal order, but granting a request by Police Commissioner to arrest a rogue judge the approval can never be a crime.

  8. No, no, no my dear Ibrahim no!

    The court ruled in Nazim's case that there was no evidence that Nazim had assisted or taken part in the crime he was accused of. Also the prosecution had failed to charge the guilty persons as well.

    In the Maafushi Prison Shooting incident, the inquiry into the incident found that it had not been sanctioned by any higher authority.

    In Nasheed's case, he will also be acquitted if the prosecution fails to prove that he had ordered the unlawful arrest and detention of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed. However, if it is proven that he had issued the order, then he should and can be held liable.

    Also, the Police Commissioner has no authority to issue orders to the President. Any executive order from the President is his responsibility and his alone. It is within his prerogative to accept or refuse the advice provided by his subordinates.

  9. MAG himself on telly admitted to javva havayah fazaayah.....u cant fool all the people all the time


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