The Prosecutor General’s Office (PG) has appealed in the High Court a decision by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court that it did not have jurisdiction to proceed a case presented to the court against former President Mohamed Nasheed, and former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim and three senior officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
The case was submitted by the PG accusing Nasheed, Tholhath and the MNDF officers of violating article 81 of the Penal Code by detaining Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, and “unlawfully arresting a person who hasn’t committed a crime”.
The Nasheed administration had accused the judge of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, links with organised crime and “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights violations and corruption cases.
Elements of the police and military subsequently mutinied on February 7, alleging that Nasheed’s orders to arrest the judge were unlawful.
Nasheed publicly resigned the same day, but later said he was forced to do so “under duress” in a coup d’état. Judge Abdulla was released on the evening of February 7, and the Criminal Court swiftly issued a warrant for Nasheed’s arrest. Police did not act on the warrant, after international concern quickly mounted.
As well as Nasheed, the Prosecutor General has also pressed the same charges against former Chief of Defense Forces Moosa Ali Jaleel, Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and Colonel Mohamed Ziyad for their role in detaining the judge.
The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court rejected cases forwarded by the Prosecutor General on July 18 after studying the case and learning that the case was beyond the jurisdictions of the magistrate courts. The PG had forwarded the case to Hulhumale’ because of concerns over a conflict of interest that would exist if it was sent to the criminal court.
‘’We studied the case and we found that we do not have the jurisdiction to deal with the case according to article 66 of the Judicature Act,’’ Hulhumale’ Court Chief Magistrate Moosa Naseem told Minivan News at the time.
Naseem said that the Hulhumale’-based court can only accept the case after the Chief Justice issues a decree in agreement with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Judicial Council as stated in the article 66[b] of the Judicature Act.
Article 66[b] of the Judicature Act states that “In accordance with Section (a) of this Article, if additions or omission to the jurisdictions stipulated in schedule 5 of this Act has to be carried out, the modification has to be done in agreement with the Judicial Service Commission and the Judicial Council and by a decree issued by the Chief Justice.’’
The Chief Judge was detained by the military, after he had opened the court outside normal hours to order the immediate release of former Justice Minister and current Home Minister and deputy leader of the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), Dr Mohamed Jameel.
On July 25, Deputy Prosecutor General (PG) Hussein Shameem said that Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court does have the jurisdiction to hear the case of former President Mohamed Nasheed over his role in the detention of a Criminal Court Chief Judge.
Shameem contended that should the court maintain its decision against hearing the case, there were few other judicial alternatives in trying to ensure a “fair trial”.
The Civil Court meanwhile recently dismissed a decision by its own watchdog body, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), to take action against Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed for violating the Judge’s Code of Conduct.
The Civil Court overruled the JSC stating that Judge Abdulla was not given an opportunity to respond to the allegations during the investigation.
According to the decision, providing a chance to submit any complaints after the investigation was completed could not be deemed as an opportunity for the judge to present his defence.