Former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu offered Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed and his family relocation to the United Kingdom after he was detained by the military in January 2012, a witness told the Criminal Court today
Tholhath is accused of executing “Operation Liberty Shield” which saw the military arrest of Judge Abdulla on January 16, 2012. If convicted of terrorism, the former Defence Minister faces a jail term or banishment between 10 and 15 years.
At today’s hearing, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) psychologist Aishath Zeena said Tholhath had appointed her as Judge Abdulla’s personal psychologist while he was held at the military training island on Girifushi.
“I got a text from Tholhath’s phone asking to pass a message to the judge. He wanted me to tell the judge that he could go to the UK with his family,” Zeena said.
Tholhath had phoned her several times during the judge’s detention to check on him, she said. When Zeena passed on Tholhath’s message to Judge Abdulla, they had a conversation about the offer, but she said she could not recall details now.
“Abdulla spoke a lot every time we met. When I passed him Tholhath’s message, we spoke about that, too. But I can’t recall the conversation now,” she explained to the three judge bench presiding over the case.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration detained Judge Abdulla after deeming him a national security threat. Then- Home Minister Hassan Afeef 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 and corruption cases.
However, a 2012 Human Rights Commission of the Maldives investigation dismissed the government’s claim Judge Abdulla posed a threat to national security on the grounds the National Security Council had not had a meeting prior to the judge’s arrest.
In addition to Tholhath, former President Nasheed, current Defence Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel who was the chief of defence force at the time, ex-Male’ area MNDF commander and MP Ibrahim Didi and ex-colonel Mohamed Ziyad are also standing trial for terrorism over Judge Abdulla’s arrest.
Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked 22 consecutive nights of violent anti-government demonstrations that culminated in a police and military mutiny on the morning of February 7, 2012, forcing Nasheed to resign in what he subsequently called a “coup d’etat.”
At today’s hearing, then Vice Chief of Defence Forces Farhath Shareer said Tholhath had met with senior officers of the military and discussed assisting police in a matter of national security.
“He [Tholhath] said that MNDF might have to arrest a civilian in the process. We gave our professional opinion to him. Almost all the officers in the meeting disagreed on the matter. We said the situation where military could arrest civilians is not present,” he said.
Farhath said he was not involved in the mission to detain Judge Abdulla, and only found about it after media reports of the arrest.
“I was not involved in the mission and I don’t know if Tholhath had carried out the orders to execute it,” he said.
Several opposition supporters gathered near the court today ahead of the hearing, calling on the government to release President Nasheed. The opposition leader is held at Dhoonidhoo Island Detention Center pending the outcome of the trial. Protesters held posters with Nasheed’s image and heckled Tholhath as he went inside the court building.
At a previous hearing Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam said President Nasheed and Tholhath must take responsibility for the judge’s detention.
Tholhath, in a meeting with MNDF officers following the arrest, had said he would bear responsibility for the judge’s arrest even if he were to be jailed for forty years, Shiyam said.
Related to this story