A spy camera video apparently depicting a Supreme Court Justice and a local businessman discussing political influence in the judiciary has surfaced on social media networks.
Local media identified the two individuals seen in the video as Justice Ali Hameed and Mohamed Saeed, the director of local business firm ‘Golden Lane’.
The video appeared shortly after the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a council member of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and then-Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry – while he was allegedly trying to sell a sex tape of a Supreme Court Justice.
The spy camera footage, which carries the date January 24, 2013, shows the pair discussing how politicians have been influencing the judiciary.
Both men speak in the Addu dialect of the local Dhivehi language. Due to noise from a television near the camera, much of the conversation is unclear.
The individual believed to be Justice Hameed appears frustrated over political manipulation of the judiciary.
He claims feuds between politicians were being settled through the court even though these did not involve the law or any legal issues.
He names politicians including Abdulla Yameen, the current Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate and half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as well as the running mate of incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – also the leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
In the video, one of the men claims that he had heard plans of “killing off” DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and refers to a “second person to be killed,” however, due to the unclear audio it is not clear what the parties are referring to, or the context of the “killing”.
The person believed to be Hameed says, “If it comes into my hands, I will kill him off.”
Even [Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid will know very well that my stand is to do things the way Yameen wants. That the fall of this government was brought with our participation,” he adds (01:49, unclear).
However, he also claims that he was a person who “even Yameen cannot play with” and that over time he had “shown Yameen” who he is.
“Politicians can resolve their failures if they work on it, what the judiciary has to do, what we have to do is when these baaghees (traitors) file cases, we should say, ‘That it is a political matter. That it’s not a judicial issue. It’s not a legal issue. So don’t drag us into this. There is no legal dispute,’” he is heard saying earlier.
Referring to an unidentified group of people, he says if “they have a balanced thinking, then we will do things in a balanced way”, and asks the other individual, believed to be Saeed, if this would upset anybody.
Following the release of the video, Mohamed Saeed was twice summoned to the police for questioning, but details of the case or the topic of questioning have yet to be revealed.
However, Saeed’s lawyer Noorban Fahmy told media that Saeed opted to remain silent in the later session after he was first questioned without the presence of a lawyer.
Following the release of the camera footage, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Alhan Fahmy – newly reunited with the party after a stint in the Jumhoree Party (JP) – alleged police had attempted to coerce one of his constituents in Feydhoo to confessing that Fahmy had made the video.
During a party rally in the Maafanu ward of Male’ on Saturday, Fahmy called for action against the judge regardless of the origin of the footage.
“I want to say is that we don’t need to see who made the film and who shot the film. The judge who has behaved indecently must be brought to justice. I want to say that judges who lose all their dignity through adultery and indecent behavior cannot remain as judges at courts,” he alleged.
“The video has come to our attention”: JSC
Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Spokesperson Hassan Zaheen told local media that the commission had learned about the video through media reports.
He explained that the legal department would first analyse the video and then decide whether the case was one the commission should investigate.
The leaked footage follows leaked photos of Supreme Justice Ali Hameed in a hotel room with a woman that began circulating on social media in March this year.
According to the Supreme Court website, Hameed graduated in 1991 and was awarded a Bachelor of Shari’ah and Qadhaa (Shari’ah and Law) degree from Ummul-Qura University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the website claimed that he was awarded a fellowship from the Commonwealth Judicial Education Institute, Canada.
Gross misconduct within judiciary: lawyers
In June, former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood alleged to local media that Yameen and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, along with retired Supreme Court Judge Mujthaz Fahmy, had long been in the business of influencing judges and their verdicts.
“The entire judiciary is under the influence of [retired Supreme Court Judge] Mujthaaz Fahmy ,” Suood alleged.
Suood further alleged that Deputy Speaker Nazim had close ties with members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), and said several judges had confided to him that Yameen had on several occasions given instructions to the judges over the phone as to how their sentences should be phrased.
Despite claiming to have strong evidence to support his allegations, Suood admitted that it would be extremely difficult for the authorities to take action against the three individuals.
Suood further contended that the JSC had been taken over by “dark powers”, and that it was fully under the control of certain political figures.
All three individuals accused by Suood dismissed the allegations in local media, with Yameen describing them as an “outright lie”, and expressing frustration claiming that it had become common for people to make erroneous and slanderous remarks against political figures.
“This would not have happened if defamation had been kept as a criminal offence. All this is happening because defamation has now been changed to a civil wrong,” the presidential candidate said at the time.
Tip of the iceberg?
Supreme Court misconduct has also previously been alleged by former Human Rights Minister and Attorney General Dhiyana Saeed, who claimed a Supreme Court judge requested she file a case against former President Nasheed in a bid to prevent him from running for presidency in the 2013 presidential elections.
Dhiyana in her claim did not mention the name of the judge. However, she said at the time that a judge on the Supreme Court bench had told her that he had personal scores to settle with Nasheed.
According to Saeed, the said judge had personally instructed her on the cases she should file against the former President. Saeed alleged the instructions were given at a meeting held in the judge’s house at his request following Nasheed’s controversial resignation on February 7, 2012.
Among the suggestions allegedly made by the judge included a case concerning Nasheed’s decision to remove eight members appointed to parliament by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, prior to the ratification of the constitution.
Another suggestion included refiling a case filed by Jumhoree Party (JP) Youth Wing Leader Moosa Anwar in 2008 against Nasheed. This case claimed that Nasheed was convicted and sentenced for theft – a ‘Hadd’ offence under Sharia’ law – in similar bid to bar his candidacy ahead of the 2008 presidential elections.
Saeed also alleged that this judge was “involved” in the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the legitimacy of the controversially-formed Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.