President Abdulla Yameen on Wednesday pardoned former opposition MP Abdulla Jabir who was serving a one-year jail term for refusal to provide urine.
The former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and tourism tycoon was pardoned under powers granted to the president by the Clemency Act.
Jabir was arrested during a police raid on Hondaidhoo Island in November 2012. The police claimed they found large amounts of narcotics and drugs.
The ten individuals arrested from Hondaidhoo also include former MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussein Zaki.
Jabir claimed he had been tortured during the arrest and that the police did not follow due process in asking for a urine sample. But the Criminal Court said Jabir was unable to substantiate his case and sentenced him to one year in jail in February.
Subsequently, Jabir’s lawyers said the sentence “was in violation of several procedural and factual formalities accorded in the Constitution and statutes of the Maldives.”
Lawyers suggested that Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaz Muhusin had failed to consider procedural issues raised by Jabir’s defence, thereby failing to observe the principles of natural justice.
The statement also suggested that the Jabir’s constitutional rights to adequate time and facilities for his defence – also guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – were not met.
Jabir’s legal representatives noted that the police’s mistreatment of the MP at the time of arrest had been confirmed by the Police Integrity Commission but had not been taken into account by the judge.
After investigating the case – which involved medical records showing injuries sustained by Jabir as well as a video of one officer kicking the MP in the head – the PIC said it could not forward the case to the prosecutor general as the identity of the officer could not be determined.
During the trial, Jabir had claimed testimony given against him by arresting officers was inadmissible, alleging that the officers in question had been responsible for his mistreatment.
“It is regrettable that the Judicial process that we are to respect and obey has shown such a blatant disregard for the principles of justice and the rule of law,” concluded the statement.
Jabir ran for the Kaashidhoo constituency from jail, but lost the election in March. He asked the High Court to invalidate the polls claiming his right to campaign had been restricted. But the court rejected the appeal.
In April, Jabir was temporarily released from jail for a period of three months to obtain medical treatment in Malaysia for respiratory difficulties. He was jailed on his return on July 10.
The prosecutor general also pressed charges against Jabir for alcohol and cannabis possession. But the Criminal Court in February acquitted him of cannabis charges in February and alcohol charges on July 10.
Hamid was also acquitted of alcohol possession on the same day.
Jabir was elected to the People’s Majlis on the Jumhooree Party (JP) ticket in a by election in 2012 after the former Kaashidhoo MP Ismail Abdul Hameed was sentenced to one year and six months of banishment for corruption.
He is well known for his frequent party defections. His first political party was Dhivehi Rayithunge Party during the presidency of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2005. He switched to current President Abdulla Yameen’s People’s Alliance in 2007.
Jabir then defected to the JP ahead of the 2008 presidential elections, backing JP leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim. Jabir was also appointed as the party’s deputy leader.
He subsequently switched to the MDP, holding senior positions within the party. He also announced his intention to contest for the MDP chairmanship.
During the protests following the detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in early 2012, however, Jabir once again declared that he had defected from the MDP back to the JP.
Following his arrest and charges of alcohol possession in late 2012, Jabir became an open critic of the Waheed government, eventually reverting back to the MDP in December the same year.
The MDP’s disciplinary committee in January this year invalidated Jabir’s ticket for the Majlis election after he repeatedly breached the party’s whip by voting for President Yameen’s cabinet in December.
Jabir had won the ticket by default due to a lack of contenders.
However, an appeals committee overruled the decision stating that the disciplinary committee could only issue a warning, levy a fine, and suspend or revoke party membership.