The Supreme Court continued obtaining statements from witnesses produced by the Jumhooree Party (JP) in its case against the Elections Commission (EC), seeking the annulment of the first round election over allegations of voting discrepancies and irregularities.
Shortly before the commencement of the hearings on Tuesday, the Supreme Court informed both the EC and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – who had also intervened in the case – that its lawyers had been ejected from the case, for acting in contempt of court.
Following the announcement, the court suspended the hearings for two hours to allow the parties to seek a replacement for the suspended lawyers. However, shortly before the two hour period elapsed, the MDP withdrew from the case citing severe discrepancies in the court.
Lawyer Hussain Siraj appeared on behalf of the Elections Commission, replacing former Attorney General Husnu Suood who promptly signed up as an MDP member.
I have been banned from supreme court. Thanks for all justices.I have decided to join MDP. #KKBK
— Husnu Al Suood (@hsuood) September 24, 2013
During today’s court session, the Chief Justice announced that the hearing would continue to hear the witnesses produced by the JP in support of its allegations against the Elections Commission.
Three witnesses told the court that when they had gone to vote, EC officials present at the polling station had told them that votes had already been cast under their name but once they had complained, the officials allowed them to vote after manually entering their names into a physical voter list present at the station.
The other two witnesses claimed that they had knowledge of underage people voting in the poll. However, among the two witnesses who made the claim, one witness said that he had only heard about it, after rumours began circulating that such a thing happened.
During cross examination the EC’s lawyer Siraj asked if he had anything to substantiate his claims. The witness said he had neither personally checked whether the alleged underage voter had actually voted, or whether he was actually under the age of voting.
The second witness who testified said he had seen an underage person who had voted and told the court that he had personally gone to the person in question and said that the person had an indelible ink mark on his finger.
According to the witness, the underage voter was 17 years of age as per his National Identity Card (NIC) – one year less than the eligible age of voting which is 18 years.
After questioning the witnesses, the Supreme Court requested the Attorney General’s office submit their list of alleged underage voters.
The lawyer representing the Attorney General’s office told the court that it intended to submit the intelligence report from the police, as stated during the last hearing. However, the lawyer said that the Attorney General’s Office would not submit the report if the Supreme Court was going to share the report with other parties in the case.
Meanwhile, the JP lawyers submitted two more additional documents as evidence – one, an official document from the Maldives Police Service detailing the security services provided to the Elections Commission, and the second document a request made by Elections Complaints Bureau which had requested recount of a ballot box during the polling day. JP lawyers alleged that the EC had disregarded the request and had gone on to announce the results of the box.
In concluding today’s hearing, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz announced that a hearing would be held tomorrow (Wednesday).