Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy and Hamid Abdul Ghafoor were brought before the Criminal Court today for separate hearings to face the respective charges of “scandalising” the country’s judiciary and refusing to provide a urine sample to police.
MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’ has pleaded not guilty to charges of “disobeying orders” for contemptuous comments allegedly made about the country’s Supreme Court earlier this year.
Meanwhile, fellow MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor asked for his Criminal Court case, in which he is charged with refusing to give a urine sample to police, to be thrown out completely.
Ghafoor allegedly failed to provide the urine sample after being arrested on an uninhabited island along with a group of MDP politicians and other senior political figures. A number of those arrested with Ghafoor were charged with alcohol and drug possession.
However, Ghafoor today told the Criminal Court that police had not asked him to provide a urine sample following his arrest on November 16, 2012, arguing that the case should therefore be dropped.
The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office had previously told the Criminal Court that it has 11 witnesses testifying against Ghafoor, proving that he was in possession – and under the influence – of alcohol when arrested on the island of Hondaidhoo last November.
Meanwhile, MP Fahmy stands accused of making contemptuous remarks about the country’s judiciary during a television show earlier this year – charges he denied during the opening hearing of his own case today.
The opposition MP added that the court had granted him the right to appoint a lawyer before reconvening. The next hearing is currently scheduled for November 24.
Fahmy argued that as an elected representative in parliament, it was questionable why he could not make comments criticising the country’s judiciary on television when he had made the same accusations during live transmissions broadcast from parliament.
“In a free democratic society, the offensive of scandalising court is not even recognised. It’s dead elsewhere in the world, but still alive here in the Maldives. This is unacceptable,” he said.
Fahmy case background
In April, Fahmy told Minivan News that Police had begun an investigation of a case filed by the Department of Judicial Administration against him, over his allegedly “contemptuous remarks” against the Supreme Court and its judges.
Addressing the allegedly contemptuous remarks made during a program broadcast on Raajje TV, Fahmy argued this week that he had been addressing the concerns of constituents by expressing his belief that the country’s Supreme Court had encroached on the powers of parliament.
He also alleged that the Supreme Court’s judges were not qualified to understand or interpret the country’s democratic constitution, arguing the apex court was the most “undemocratic” institution among the three branches of state.
Fahmy added that his comments were mostly reiterating the conclusions drawn by numerous international legal experts about the Maldives court system in recent years; including the views of UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul.
Knaul, in a report released earlier this year, expressed “deep concern” over politicisation within the country’s court system.
The special rapporteur stated that there was near unanimous consensus during her visit to the Maldives this year that the composition of watchdog body the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – which draws members from sources outside the judiciary, such as parliament, the civil service commission and others – was “inadequate and politicised”.
This complaint was first highlighted in a report published by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) in 2010.
Current presidential candidate of the Jumhoree Party (JP) and former JSC Member MP Gasim Ibrahim later called Knaul’s findings ‘lies and jokes’ at a rally held in February.
“[Gabriela Knaul] claimed that the judges were not appointed transparently, I am sure that is an outright lie. She is lying, she did not even check any document at all nor did she listen to anybody.”
“She is repeating something that was spoon-fed to her by someone else. I am someone who sits in JSC. She claimed there were no regulations or mechanism there. That is a big joke,” Gasim claimed at the time.