Kaashidhoo MP Jabir returns to prison after treatment

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Jabir has been transferred back to prison after receiving treatment for breathing difficulties.

Jabir was admitted to the hospital on April 8, with his wife Dhiyana Saeed at the time telling local media that he was brought to Malé to be treated for respiratory defects with which he had been born.

The Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) has told local media that Jabir was discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon and was handed to Malé Jail’s medical department.

The Kaashidhoo MP is currently serving a one year sentence for a failure to provide urine to police for testing.

An official from the MCS told local newspapers that Jabir had requested a medical test of his heart but that the service was not available in Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

He said that the service was now trying to facilitate a way to permit him to go abroad to do the medical test, adding that the MCS would obtain all the medical documents of Jabir before submitting them to the medical board.

Local media has also reported that Jabir was returned to jail with a bilevel positive airway pressure machine – reportedly obtained from Singapore

In a text to MDP parliamentary group members, Dhiyana said: “The pulmonologist who saw him says his previous surgeries for severe sleep apnoea has failed and needs to be admitted.”

Sleep apnoea is a type of sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep.

In an interview with Vnews earlier this month, Dhiyana has said her husband had been in hospital since April 8, revealing that doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stopped four times every hour.

MCS Spokesperson Hassan Zilaal was not responding to calls at time of press.

In February 2014, Jabir was sentenced to jail after being found him guilty of failing to provide a urine sample to police to run a drug test following his arrest on the island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody on November 16 after police raided and searched Hondaidhoo with a court warrant. Officers alleged they found large amounts of drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.

Seven of the suspects, including the MDP MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Jabir were among those charged.

At the time, police submitted cases against former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to the former President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz. The manager of Jabir’s resort J Alidhoo Jadhulla Jaleel and Zaki’s son Hamdan Zaki also face charges.

The prosecutor general also charged Jabir for possessing cannabis before he was acquitted by the court on the grounds that there was not enough evidence to prove that he was in possession of cannabis when detained by police.

Charges of alcohol possession remain outstanding, with the last hearing of Jabir and Hamid’s joint trial being suspended due to Jabir’s hospitalisation.

Following the ‘Hondaidhoo’ incident the Prosecutor General has also charged Jabir for possessing alcohol. The trial of the case still continues in the Criminal Court.


Parliament’s National Security Committee to summon police commissoner, defence minister

Parliament’s National Security Committee has decided to summon Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim in order to clarify details of their actions during the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

The committee has decided to summon Nazim and Riyaz on January 15, 2013.

According to local media, both men are to be questioned over in what capacity they had decided to enter the President’s Office and the headquarters of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) on February 7.

The events of February 7, which led to a dramatic change in government, have been labelled as a “coup d’etat” by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – despite a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) concluding the transfer was constitutional.

The committee is also expected to query why Riyaz and Nazim had assigned themselves the responsibility to push former President Mohamed Nasheed to write his resignation letter that was then sent to Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

The committee is chaired by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Moosa told local media that the decision of the committee to summon the heads of the country’s police and military was part of wider work to research the CNI’s report on the controversial transfer of power.

Moosa has alleged that Nazim and Riyaz entered the President’s Office and MNDF HQ without having any authority and against correct protocol.  Their actions, he claimed, therefore required an investigation.

On February 7, the military and police forces joined then opposition-aligned protesters, defying the orders of former President Nasheed and calling for his resignation.

Nasheed later gave a speech claiming that should he remain as head of state any for longer, it could harm the citizens of the nation.  He therefore announced his resignation on the grounds it was the only option he had to avoid bloodshed at the time.

Both Riyaz and Nazim were witnessed at the time following Nasheed to the President’s Office, where he was forced to write a resignation letter to be sent to the Speaker of Parliament.

Earlier this week, former Human Rights Minister Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed alleged certain figures behind protests leading to the controversial transfer of power on February 7 had also planned to assassinate former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The allegations from Saeed, who was recently dismissed as the current government’s Human Rights Minister, were raised in a personal memoir entitled “Silent inquiry: A Personal Memoir on the issue of the Transfer of Powers on the 7th of February 2012”.

Saeed also used the memoirs to accuse president Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s government of attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report.  The government has dismissed the accusations as baseless.


Nasheed fails to appear in court, defies travel ban

Additional reporting Daniel Bosley, Mariyath Mohamed and Mohamed Naahii.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed departed Male’ today to participate in his party’s ‘Vaudhuge Dhathuru’ (Journey of Pledges) campaign in the southern atolls, defying a court order that he remain in the capital.

Nasheed’s departure contravenes an order from the Hulhumale Magistrate Court last week that Nasheed be confined to Male’ ahead of his court trial, which was to be conducted at 4:00pm today.

Journalists in the courtroom were required to undergo heavy security screening and were stripped of mobile phones, recording equipment and notepads. However, 20 minutes later a court official stated that the hearing was cancelled as the defendant and his lawyers had failed to appear. A new date was not set.

Nasheed meanwhile held a rally from atop a yellow flagged dhoni in front of 500 demonstrators near the petrol jetty in the south of Male’, before departing with five vessels and hundreds of supporters. Minivan News observed no police presence in the area.

“Once they started to set up a fabricated court, bring in judges who are not judges of that court, and the whole structure of it is so… politically motivated, it is very obvious it is not meant to serve justice,” Nasheed told the BBC.

“We intend to find out in this trip to what extent we were able to fulfil our pledges during this party’s period in government,” Nasheed told his supporters. “This is a journey of pledges. This is a journey for justice. This is a journey where we become one with the citizens.”

The party and its senior leadership will visit over 30 islands during the 14 day trip, taking in the atolls of Gaafu Alif, Gaafu Dhaalu, Fuvahmulah and Addu.

Meanwhile, the court hearing was to be the first in the case concerning Nasheed’s detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, while in office.

Nasheed also faces charges of defaming Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim as “traitors”, following February 7’s controversial transfer of power. The first hearing in Riyaz’s case has been postponed indefinitely.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed deep concern over the legality of the court’s procedures regarding the trials, which it contends are a politically-motivated attempt to convict the former president and prevent him from running in future Presidential elections.

Following the court-ordered travel ban on Nasheed ahead of the party’s southern atoll election campaign, the MDP announced that it would no longer recognise the authority of the courts in the Maldives until changes proposed by international entities were brought to the judicial system.

“This all looks very ‘Myanmar’ – using the courts and administrative manipulation to restrict political party activity,” said MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor at the time.

“While President Waheed was lobbying the Commonwealth to remove the Maldives from its human rights watch-list, his regime had detained the leader of the opposition.”

The concerns were echoed by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) who recently downgraded the Maldivesfrom its formal agenda to a ‘matter of interest’.

“Canada is deeply troubled by the reported September 25 travel ban of former President Nasheed in Malé,” said Baird.

“The recently adopted Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report has raised substantial concerns about the independence of the judiciary. That too causes Canada grave concern as we strive to assure independent open elections in the Maldives,” he added.

“President Waheed offered no substantial defence of these questions, which is a telling response in itself,” said Baird. “Canada finds the declining state of democratic values in the Maldives alarming and deeply troubling.”

The court has maintained that the travel restriction is normal procedure for defendants ahead of court trials.

The case

Nasheed’s controversial decision to detain Judge Abdulla in January 2012 followed the judge’s repeated release of former Justice Minister – and current Home Minister – Dr Mohamed Jameel, in December 2011, whom the government had accused of inciting religious hatred over the publication of his party’s pamphlet, ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’.

Nasheed’s government further accused the judge of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, having links with organised crime and “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” so as to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights and corruption cases, among other allegations.

Nasheed justified the judge’s arrest based on his constitutional mandate to protect the constitution. Judge Abdulla had in September 2011 received an injunction from the Civil Court preventing his investigation by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the watchdog tasked with overseeing the judiciary, which complied with the ruling.

Parliament’s Independent Commissions Committee, the body mandated with holding the judicial watchdog accountable, took no interest in the matter.

The then-opposition began nightly protests over the judge’s detention, while the government sought assistance from the UN and Commonwealth for urgent judicial reform.

However, Nasheed resigned on February 7 amid a police and military mutiny the day after the Commonwealth team arrived.

Judge Abdulla was released, and the Criminal Court issued a warrant for Nasheed’s arrest. The warrant was not acted upon.

Former Defence Minister Tholhath, former Chief of Defence Force Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, Brigadier Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and Colonel Mohamed Ziyad are also facing charges for their role in detaining Judge Abdulla in January 2012.

The charges include a breach of article 81 of the Penal Code: “Arresting an innocent person intentionally and unlawfully by a state employee with the legal authority or power vested to him by his position is an offence. Punishment for a person guilty of this offence is imprisonment or banishment for 3 years or a fine of MVR 2000 (US$129.70).”

“The full story”

Former President’s Member on the JSC, Aishath Velezinee, has written a book extensively documenting the watchdog body’s undermining of judicial independence, and complicity in sabotaging the separation of powers.

Over 80 pages, backed up with documents, evidence and letters, The Failed Silent Coup: in Defeat They Reached for the Gun recounts the experience of the outspoken whistleblower as she attempted to stop the commission from re-appointing unqualified and ethically-suspect judges loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, after it dismissed the professional and ethical standards demanded by Article 285 of the constitution as “symbolic”.

That moment at the conclusion of the constitutional interim period marked the collapse of the new constitution and resulted in the appointment of a illegitimate judiciary, Velezinee contends, and set in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest of Abdulla Mohamed two years later.

According to Velezinee, “the assumption that Abdulla Mohamed is a constitutionally appointed judge is based on a false premise, a political creation [which] ignores all evidence refuting this.”

“Judge Abdulla Mohamed is at the centre of this story. I believe it is the State’s duty to remove him from the judiciary. He may have the legal knowledge required of a judge; but, as the State knows full well, he has failed to reach the ethical standards equally essential for a seat on the bench.

“A judge without ethics is a judge open to influence. Such a figure on the bench obstructs justice, and taints the judiciary. These are the reasons why the Constitution links a judge’s professional qualifications with his or her moral standards,” she wrote.

“There is no legal way in which the Civil Court can rule that the Judicial Service Commission cannot take action against Abdulla Mohamed. This decision says judges are above even the Constitution. Where, with what protection, does that leave the people?” Velezinee asked.

“The Judicial Service Commission bears the responsibility for removing Abdulla Mohamed from the bench. Stories about him have circulated in the media and among the general public since 2009, but the Commission took no notice. It was blind to Abdulla Mohamed’s frequent forays outside of the ethical standards required of a judge. It ignored his politically charged rulings and media appearances.

“Abdulla Mohamed is a man who had a criminal conviction even when he was first appointed to the bench during President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s time. Several complaints of alleged judicial misconduct are pending against him. The Judicial Service Commission has ignored them all. What it did, instead, is grant him tenure – a lifetime on the bench for a man such as Abdulla Mohamed. In doing so, the Judicial Service Commission clearly failed to carry out its constitutional responsibilities. It violated the Constitution and rendered it powerless.”


Salaf to research and determine “the right president” for 2018

Religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has issued a press statement calling on Maldivians to be patient while the NGO researches possible candidates that may run for the Presidential elections in 2018, and determine whether he is the right person to rule the country.

Salaf claimed that the presidential pledges candidates make during the campaigns are “nothing but poems”.

Salaf said that politicians and all the country’s democratic and irreligious systems had been unable to direct the Maldives towards a safe harbour.

‘’Those who are trying to change the laws concerning religion to destroy the country, have been granted more protection than Maldivian citizens,’’ Salaf said in the statement.

‘’We would like to announce that it is not something that Salaf will tolerate.’’

The NGO claimed that there were people in the Maldives challenging Islamic Sharia, criticising the religion of Islam and calling for the permitting of alcohol, homosexuality, and fornication.

‘’We are preparing for 2018. We will scan everyone that may run for the Presidential Elections and will advise the citizens about the right person,’’ said President of Salaf Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohamed Ibrahim.

‘’We will form a committee and they will obtain information on figures who will run for the elections.’’

He said the NGO would  write letters to all political parties and request they inform Salaf about their presidential candidate and provide profiles, as well as information on the the services they have provided for Maldivians.


Civil Servants Association threatens to sue finance ministry if salaries lowered

The Maldivian Civil Servant Association (MCSA) said at a rally yesterday that it will file a lawsuit against the finance ministry if civil servants are given the lowered salary this month.

MSCA spokesman Abdulla Mohamed said the organisation was placing five lawyers on standby.

”The finance minister [Ali Hashim] has personal issues against the civil servants, he’s being stubborn,” Abdulla said, adding that the problems were getting worse “because [Hashim] does not have much knowledge on how to handle a government’s finance ministry.”

”Whatever he thinks is right at the moment, he does. He does not plan things well,” Abdulla claimed.

The ministry’s request that the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and parliament mediate its dispute between the CSC “is not a solution”, he said, insisting that the ministry needed to “follow the law” and pay the full salaries for this month.

Otherwise, he said, the government would be in debt and owe civil servants the rest of the money.

Abdulla further added that the CSC had been careless, and failed to fulfill its responsibility to ensure the deductions applied the independent commissions, judiciary and police as well as other civil servants.

State Finance Minister Ahmed Assad said holding discussions with just the CSC would not lead to a solution, and that the involvement of a third party was needed.

The civil servants would be receiving the lowered salaries this month, he said. “The MCSA has a right to go to court and file a lawsuit if they have problems with the finance ministry.”

In addition, Assad claimed the CSC did not discuss the restoration of civil servants salary with the finance ministry.

”But they did asked us once: ‘is the country still in the state of a economic crisis?’, and we said ‘yes’,” Assad explained.

Governor of the MMA Fazeel Najeeb said the organisation would not outline its involvement in the arbitration process yet, but would speak to the press in several weeks.