UK-based lawyers to aid Nasheed defence in “unprecedented” legal move

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has confirmed two senior UK-based legal experts – one a specialist in Shariah Law – will be joining the defence team of former President Mohamed Nasheed ahead of his trial over the detention of a senior judicial figure whilst in power.

Party Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor confirmed that Sir Ivan Lawrence QC and Barrister Ali Mohammed Azhar will be working with local lawyers Hisaan Hussain and Hassan Latheef in some capacity to represent Nasheed.

One practising lawyer in the country contacted by Minivan News today said the appointment of two foreign legal experts in a domestic trial was an “unprecedented” development within the country’s legal history, but could not clarify further at the time of press.

The former president, who will next month begin defending himself in court against charges that he illegally detained Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed back in January 2012, has rejoined the MDP in a campaign around the country’s southern atolls in a bid to regain the presidency following February’s controversial transfer of power.

However, while free to campaign in the country, judicial authorities have said that Nasheed remains barred from leaving the country without court approval ahead of the next hearing of his trial in November.

Nasheed was himself presented to court on Tuesday (October 9) after being arrested a day earlier by police.

Speaking in court, he maintained that the detention of Judge Abdulla was justified on grounds of national security following the reported failure of other institutions to hold the judge accountable.

The former president also alleged that the charges are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting presidential elections in 2013.

Nasheed, who is now restricted from travelling abroad without judicial approval , is required to return to court on November 4, giving his legal team 25 days to study evidence against him and prepare a defence. A period of 30 days had been originally been requested by lawyers, but was rejected by a three-member judging panel.

The state presented more than 30 pieces of evidence it claimed proved that Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was detained unlawfully, including the account of the judge himself.  It will also use audio and video of the judge’s detention, as well as speeches given by Nasheed.

Assisting with the former president’s defence will be veteran criminal lawyer Sir Ivan Lawrence QC, whose biography notes experience working within UK and international institutions like the Divisional Court, the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords and a mass murder war crimes trial at The Hague.

Nasheed will also be assisted by Barrister Ali Mohammed Azhar, who is also said to have worked extensively at high level UK institutions like the Court of Appeal and House of Lords, specialising in areas such as international and human rights law.

Azhar, who visited the Maldives back in 2005 along with Ivan Lawrence as part of a fact finding mission dealing with alleged human rights abuses, is also an expert in Sharia Law, according to his own biography.

Minivan News was awaiting a statement from the MDP about the appointments international legal assistance at the time of press.

Nasheed has meanwhile returned to campaigning with the MDP as part of a ‘journey of pledges’ that has seen the party touring a number of islands in the south of the country.

Despite having obtained permission to return to campaigning in the southern atolls following his arrest this week, the Department of Judicial Administration confirmed today that Nasheed was restricted from travelling abroad without court approval.

Department of Judicial Administration Spokesperson Latheefa Qasim that Nasheed’s passport had been withheld by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court following the issue of a warrant.

When asked about possible restrictions on the role foreign legal experts could have in domestic court hearings, Qasim said she would be unable to comment at present, having not been aware of the reported appointment of UK-based lawyers to Nasheed’s defence team.


24 thoughts on “UK-based lawyers to aid Nasheed defence in “unprecedented” legal move”

  1. My god! A former Conservative MP helping Nasheed's team prepare his defense?

    What a surprise!!!

    As if the BCP had not funded Nasheed's 2008 Presidential campaign and built his public profile to where it is now.

    Not only that, BCP also provides regular assistance to the MDP for campaigning and such. Not really a secret so no real surprise here.

  2. Also I think Minivan would be well aware of the fact that this is not Ali Muhammad Azhar's first engagement with the Maldives.


  3. Good move MDP and President Nasheed. Some local lawyers will no doubt get very insecure as their corrupt practices as well as the messy judicial set up will now be exposed to the world.. just as Gayoom regime's practices of torture will be exposed....

  4. Hey tsk tsk.

    Why are you not surprised when your paymasters depend on Ruder Finn when it comes to whitewashing their crimes?

    Why the double standard when it comes to whining?

    Such hypocrisy - only expected from someone like you, who has tried so hard to put down this infant democracy for more than 2 years.

  5. Should the government get Saudi lawyers?

    oops I forgot. Saudis don't have any, because they are too stupid. They would probably employ Filipino lawyers to wash their dirty laundry.

  6. Good!!!
    Perhaps we might get a lesson in honesty and fair process and procedure. Our judicary is regonised as being one of the most corrupt in the world, this will bring truth and openess into this freak show. THE WORLD IS WATCHING.....

  7. President Nasheed is entitled to a transparent free & fair trial and considering the serious nature of the charges and the implications dependent on the conclusion of the trial its vital that he has the best possible defense according to the law of the land. The UK legal team could only boost his defense and is a welcome development. We wish him and his team well & all success.

    We would also hope & pray that President Nasheed would graciously engage UK defense lawyers of the same caliber for MDP activists Ms. Mnaii, Smith and other activist suspects in Dr. Afrasheem’s brutal murder. Given the seniority of the suspects in the MDP activist hierarchy especially Mnaii a very close and faithful aid to the President Nasheed & the seriousness of the case we sincerely hope they too would be represented by a team with UK QC’s representing them or helping in the process.

    Finally I like to make the observation once again that its President Nasheed’s characteristic to insist on foreign expert’s involvement in every matter of importance involving him & MDP. This has been consistent practice and his only departure from this practice was his failure to call for Scotland Yard’s help in the murder investigations of Dr. Afrasheem. This even though he immediately launched the “free Mnaii campaign”. We are glad that the FBI experts were at last called in by the MPS. However for the first time to the best of my knowledge President Nasheed’s failed to call for foreign experts to take over or help Maldivian experts – in this case Forensic experts in Dr. Afrasheem’s brutal murder case.

  8. No problem with Nasheed getting legal assistance and mounting a legal defense.

    Actually I applaud this decision. Much better than using mobs and militant activism.

    The judiciary of course must perform to the best of its capacity.

    In my honest opinion the judiciary must first accept the Prosecutor-General's challenge and once and for all decide on whether the Hulhumale Magistrate Court can exist within the current legal structure. If yes, then Nasheed's trial must be continued. If not then the court should be dissolved and the Nasheed trial should be conducted properly within the Criminal Court.

  9. My God. Gayoom is waiting to be he next president of Maldives with no breath. His bugs all over the Nation.Hah

  10. Since President Nasheed's trial is now under way, I believe for the sake of fair justice, every opportunity should be given to him to do as much as possible to strengthen his side's defensive capabilities for the trial.

  11. Nasheed’s decision to get legal assistance is good move; the so called prosecution will look like dumb ass when they face professionals. Probably will be bubbling like tribal communities in sub Saharan Africa
    However as far as the Kangaroo courts and Mubahala prosecution is concerned, this trial is to issue a verdict for the crime committed by poor Anni which is clearly constituted in their second Quran. “Removal of criminal judge from his post is punishable offence either by barring such leader from contesting any election or by humiliating him by arresting him and dragging him naked in public”.
    The chance for Anni to go free is zero because the whole purpose of this chicken game is to make sure he is out from the street to keep the democracy alive.

  12. No good hiring foreign lawyers as they cannot practice in the Maldives but just have to help the local chaps. Nothing will come out of it.

  13. They cannot practice as lawyers in Maldives, unless they get registered and get permission to practice law here and also need to get work permit.By then Nasheed will be behind bars, any way why any lawyer is needed such an obvious case, he is guilty on.

  14. @ Nasir

    Reading your post, I feel saddened because I can see where the problem lies with you. I agree with Sir McKinnon that a fair trial in the Maldives is not only possible but should be accorded to President Nasheed just as any other citizen. Maldivians thank God are extremely keen to learn and it’s a trait that put their heart and soul to achieve excellence at whatever they do. This gives me great hope for both the Prosecution & the Defense. Further the UK QC’s would I’m ensure benefit us immensely with their great experience and professionalism. All this only enhances President Nasheed’s Defense & that is the most important consideration.

    This is a case study & will serve as notice to the world that at long last the rule of law is finally here to stay in the Maldives and Democracy is back on track. What a surprise it is that President Waheed with his “LOUD SILENCE” is sending out a loud message to all Maldivians & the world, and to the surprise of many is the hero of the hour. Thank-you Mr. President.

  15. @T

    Actually I am astounded that Sir McKinnon said that a fair trial was possible for President Nasheed.

    Not only astounded, but speechless.

    Clearly Sir McKinnin needs to be replaced as the Commonwealth Envoy to the Maldives since he seems so ignorant of the realities of the Maldivian Justice System.

  16. Only President Nasheed has the capability of surprising Maldivians with his constructive ideas. This move will probably force our corrupt judiciary to alter their plans for sending our hero behind bars.. May be they will dissolve the case filed against our hero or are in doubt of a next foxy move.

  17. To my belief, these two experts are joining the team of President Nasheed's lawyers perhaps not necessarily to appear in court, as some people are so uptight about!

    @tsk tsk.
    Even they are MPs, there are many lawyers who need some cash!
    It is not at all surprising. We have had the honour of hearing a leaked audio recording, said to be of a lawyer/MP asking another MP/businessman (in a "very husky" way), how things were, and said, "I need some cash"!

    With all your wits, it is surprising to find you surprised why a conservative MP has got himself involved!

    He too could be needing some cash (perhaps not the way the said our MP needed some cash), or is helping a friend in need!

  18. The illegitimate state will probably try and kill him. Like they did with Afrasheem when he refused to spread lies anymore.

    After all, people who speak the truth are a threat to the enemy regime's deathgrip on the average Maldivian.

  19. We Maldivians do not have any sense of shame. If the engagement of foreigners in defense of Nasheed has any likelihood of exposure of our bias legal system, then we would call the foreigners ... "Kaafaru Faranjee" and get 23rd December to gather for a Magrib Prayers at Lonuziyaaraiy kolhu. Dr. Imran bin sis-in-law can lead the show .. heh

  20. i guess time has now come for these two lawyers to get abandoned by MDP and once verdict is given against Nasheed and the lawyer find the truth about the arrest of Chief Judge, then these lawyer will become a traitor to MDP.

    No matter where Anni brings lawyers, we all know that you arrested the judge outside the legislative process and that can not be denied.

  21. "we all know that you arrested the judge outside the legislative process"

    What's the matter? Was an investigation into your child pornography supplier a little too much to digest?

    We'll do better next time.

  22. no matter what Nasheed trying to cover his illegal act, this time it will be uncovered with these foreign judges.

    But the bigger question will be whether Anni will accept the out come if it is against with him ?

    This guy does not have any tolerance towards anything against him and he only can accept things when people praise on him.

    He can only criticize others but any criticism on him will be treated as an attack on him.


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