Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz has said that a decision on whether to press charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed over the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed is expected to be made by next week.
Earlier this week, the Maldives Police Service sent the case of the arrest of the chief judge to the PG’s Office. Minivan News reported at the time that under the submitted case, former President Mohamed Nasheed could face charges for his alleged role in the Maldives National Defense Force’s (MNDF) decision to detain Judge Abdulla.
The country’s judges and their conduct became a major focus for Nasheed in the run up to his replacement by Dr Waheed in February. The former president had raised concerns over allegations of perjury and “increasingly blatant collusion” between senior judicial figures and politicians loyal to his predecessors, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
However, Nasheed himself came under criticism from some international bodies after detaining the chief judge whilst he claimed to be awaiting international assistance from bodies like the UN and the Commonwealth with the judicial reforms.
Speaking briefly by phone today about the Judge Abdulla case and its relation to the former president, PG Muizz said that a decision had yet to be taken on whether to press criminal charges or not.
In addressing the decision-making process concerning the prosecution of a high-profile figure such as a former president of the nation, Muizz said that he would apply the same criteria that was used against any other Maldivian citizen.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), of which Nasheed is a member, has responded to the filing of the case against the former president by claiming the decision was “pure injustice”, representing the “broken” state of the national criminal justice system.
MP Imthiyaz Fahmy commented that it was ironic that Nasheed, who had worked to foster a reputation for championing human rights in the country, could now potentially face prosecution by a judiciary that he himself believed to be guilty of several of cases of corruption.
“This is injustice. Justice is not ensured simply by a judge’s verdict on an issue, it has to be publically accepted that it is justice,” he argued.
“For the last thirty long years, the regime [of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] tortured and suppressed the people. They systematically tortured the people. Those that were at the helm of torture and corruption are made as clean as ‘pure white cotton’ by the crippled judiciary.”
According to sources linked to the Judge Abdulla case, the charges levelled against Nasheed relate to the violation of article 46 of the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives, and for violation of Article 12 clause (a) of Judges Act (Act no 13/2010).
Article 44 of the Maldives Constitution states: “No person shall be arrested or detained for an offence unless the arresting officer observes the offence being committed, or has reasonable and probable grounds or evidence to believe the person has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence, or under the authority of an arrest warrant issued by the court.”
Article 12 clause (a) of the Judges Act states that a judge can be arrested without a court warrant, but only if he is found indulging in a criminal act.
The same article also states that if a judge comes under suspicion of committing a criminal act or being about to commit a criminal act, they can only be taken into custody with a court warrant obtained from a higher court than that in which the judge presently sits. This warrant has to be approved by the PG.
A police official confirmed on Sunday – April 15 – that the case regarding the judge’s detention had been submitted to the PG’s Office .
“Today at around 9:30am, we have submitted the case [the arrest of Judge Abdulla] to the prosecutor general. We have completed all the necessary investigations required,” the police official said at the time.
An official from the PG’s Office also confirmed to Minivan News that the charges sent to it by the police were against Nasheed. However, the official refused to explain the exact nature of the charges, stating that the case was still being assessed by their legal team.
A second case involving Nasheed has also been sent to the PG by the police, involving the confiscation of bottles of alcohol allegedly found at his residence shortly after his presidency ended.
In a press conference, Deputy Head of the Drug Enforcement Department, Sub-Inspector Ismail Fareed, noted that all people questioned regarding the case had cooperated fully.
However, Nasheed maintained that he had no part to play in the confiscated liquor bottles.