Justice Ali Hameed appointed to the Judicial Service Commission

Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed has been appointed to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) by President Abdulla Yameen.

A media official from the judicial watchdog confirmed that Hameed would replace JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed, who resigned on Sunday (January 18) citing personal reasons.

Last year, the JSC cleared Hameed of misconduct charges, citing lack of evidence to support his alleged appearance in three sex tapes involving three different foreign women, which went viral in mid-2013.

Former JSC member and outspoken proponent of judicial reform Aishath Velezinee said Hameed’s “appointment to the JSC by the consensus of Supreme Court judges shows how low the courts have fallen”.

The commission voted against suspending Hameed last year, citing a lack of evidence, while the Maldives Police Service – which launched its own investigation – told the press that they been unable to determine if the man seen fornicating with the women was Hameed.

In its ruling last year, the JSC noted that the police had closed its own investigation into the case, and that the tape may constitute an act of espionage as it appeared to have been filmed by an unauthorised body, noting that it is against the Constitution to obtain evidence by unlawful means.

Corruption charges filed against the Supreme Court judge were also stalled last year after key documents were said to have been destroyed by a coffee spill at the Criminal Court.

Velezinee today described Ali Hameed as a puppet to the current regime saying: “Any judge who doesn’t deliver as directed will be subjected to action by the JSC. Ali Hameed has got a noose on his own neck – the sex tapes. The government can pull any time.”

“This compromises the independence of the judiciary as the old system would now prevail,” added Velezinee, stating that the current government would now be able to control the decisions of the courts.

The ten member JSC includes representatives from High Court, the trial courts, the People’s Majlis, the public (appointed by the Majlis), the attorney general, the chair of the Civil Service Commission, the Majlis speaker, a presidential appointee, a practising lawyer, and a Supreme Court judge nominated by his peers.

The appointment comes less than a month after the JSC found Hameed’s fellow judges on the Supreme Court – Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan – unfit to continue to serve on the bench in a ruling made available to neither the public nor MPs.

The secrecy of the decision did not prevent the Majlis voting to remove the pair three days later (December 14), in a move described as having “severely jeopardised” the country’s judicial independence by Commonwealth groups.

The Civil Court and several prominent lawyers also condemned the JSC’s recommendation to remove the judges, saying that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul also expressed serious concern over the decision, saying that it would “have a chilling effect on the work of the judiciary at all levels”.

In a 2013 report, Knaul noted that political polarisation in the Maldives had meant that the “commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly”.



Related to this story

JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla resigns

Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed cleared of misconduct in sex tape scandal

Two more sex videos of Supreme Court judge leaked

Police suspend investigations into Supreme Court judge’s sex scandal

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MDP calls parliamentary debate on Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed sex tape scandal

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called for a parliamentary debate on the judicial watchdog’s decision to clear Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed of misconduct charges in a sex tape scandal.

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) on June 25 claimed insufficient evidence to indict the judge in a court. The three sex tapes leaked on social media appear to show Hameed fornicating with three different foreign women in a Colombo hotel room.

The commission did not suspend Hameed in the course of investigations despite several sub committee recommendations.

Critics have since argued the JSC is mandated to conduct disciplinary investigations which entail different penalties than criminal investigations.

MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy in a resolution on Wednesday said the JSC decision has “closed all the doors for unveiling the truth regarding the case.”

The resolution also stated that the JSC contravened its own standards in determining misconduct in order to save Judge Hameed, and had “sacrificed judicial independence and the Constitution and prioritized [Judge] Ali Hameed’s interests” by purposefully delaying the case for over a year.

In serious cases of corruption and misconduct, allegations must be investigated promptly and the judge must be suspended until investigations are completed, Fahmy noted.

Further, the JSC decision to retain a judge perceived to be “corrupted, shamed, dishonored and blackmailed’ on the Supreme Court bench affects the freedom and independence of the apex court and undermines trust in decisions of all other courts, the resolution said.

The JSC has violated the public’s constitutionally enshrined right to a fair trial at a free and independent court, Fahmy said.

The first reading of the resolution was held on Wednesday. It will be opened up for debate within a seven day period and MPs will cast a vote to accept or reject the resolution.

Speaking to Minivan News, Fahmy said he wanted a parliamentary probe in to the JSC decision.

“The decision has set a very wrong standard, we cannot allow this to continue. The JSC does not have to use criminal standards in a disciplinary case like this, anyone familiar with law will know with that. The parliament should look in to this and hold JSC accountable,” he said.

However, given the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) avoidance of the subject of judicial reform, Fahmy said he is skeptical of the outcome of the resolution. The PPM currently holds a majority in the parliament.

“Even so, I hope the parliament will approve this for the sake of an independent judiciary and justice. The hope is to reform the judiciary in this country,” Fahmy said.

Despite international and domestic criticism of the judiciary, President Abdulla Yameen has failed to respond to the issue. Yameen has said he left the subject out from his first presidential address due to the trust and respect he has for the judiciary.

Sex, corruption

The police formally launched an investigation against Hameedin July 2013 after still images of the sex tape began circulating on social media.

The police investigations consisted of two-parts, one concerning the content of the video and another regarding the use of the tapes to blackmail Hameed. At the time, the JSC voted not to suspend Hameed citing lack of evidence.

Soon afterwards, two more videos appearing to show Hameed engaging in sexual relations with two more foreign women surfaced on social media.

In December 2013 the police stalled investigation claiming they were unable to ascertain the identity of the man in the sex tapes.

At the time, local media Haveeru suggested the police had been unable to proceed with investigations due to the Criminal Court’s refusal to provide two key warrants in September. The warrants reportedly include a warrant to take a facial photograph of Hameed and another to search his residence.

A second JSC sub-committee to investigate the matter asked for the judge’s suspension, but JSC President Adam Mohamed refused to put the suspension to a vote.

The now defunct Maldives Bar Association in April also called for the suspension of Hameed until investigations were complete.

“Given the serious nature of allegations against Ali Hameed, that the judge continues to hold trial contravenes norms of justice, conduct of judges, and established norms by which free and democratic societies deal with cases of this nature,” the association said in a statement at the time.

In May, the police closed investigations and said it would only open the case if it receives new information.

In another leaked video , Hameed allegedly suggested he was one of then Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen’s “back-ups”, and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

The Prosecutor General’s Office in April also filed corruption charges against Hameed over illegal transfer of credit from his state- funded mobile phone in 2010. However, the Criminal Court in May claimed case files had been destroyed in a coffee spill.

A 2010 audit report of the Department of Judicial Administration reveals that MVR13,200 (US$856) was spent out of the apex court’s budget to repair a state-owned car used by an unnamed Supreme Court Justice, later revealed in the media to be Justice Hameed.

According to the police report cited by auditors, the driver of the justice’s car was responsible for the accident, which occurred on January 23, 2011.

The Supreme Court has dismissed allegations of corruption.

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New beginnings – The Weekly Review

June 21st – 27th

This week saw a number of fresh starts – in particular for Supreme Court judge Ali Hameed who was cleared of misconduct charges.

With the police’s investigation of the judge in relation to his alleged appearance in multiple sex tapes already suspended, the Judicial Services Commission’s decision appeared to close all investigations into the issue.

JSC members past and present called the decision a contravention of Islamic principles, suggesting that the commission had clear grounds to remove the controversial judge.

The Supreme Court this week also ruled that sitting judges can vote in the appointment of a lawyer to the vacant position on the JSC – overruling current regulations prohibiting their involvement.

After a previous request from the Supreme Court, the Home Ministry this week dissolved the Maldives Bar Association – the single largest lawyers’ group – for failing to change its name.

Meanwhile, the government’s legislative agenda seems poised to begin in earnest after the People’s Majlis reached a compromise on the composition of standing committees this week – an agenda that will no doubt be assisted by the defection of another opposition MP to the government’s camp.

Elsewhere in the Majlis, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz was called to answer questions regarding developing plans for Addu City.

Speaking with Minivan News this week, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb defended the government’s first legislative proposal – the special economic zones bill – against accusations that it will do little to alleviate regional disparities in development.

Adeeb argued that giving the government flexibility in negotiating relaxed regulations for new investors would be the best way to bring quick developments to the atolls.

The government also promised a new options for the tourism sector, with the launch of the country’s first guest house island – though critics questioned the real benefit of the scheme to local communities.

The enactment of anti human-trafficking legislation was acknowledged this week as the US removed the Maldives from its watch list, while local employers of undocumented workers in Laamu Gan were also given a second chance as the government’s removal of illegal migrants continued.

As the administration announced its intention to seek US$600 million from China or Japan for assistance with the new start for Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, the Maldivian Democratic Party revealed its decision to sue former President Dr Mohamed Waheed for his role in the termination of the previous development deal.

While Sri Lankan leader Mahinda Rajapaksa made an official visit this week – offering assistance in a number of areas – former President Mohamed Nasheed suggested India ought to assist Maldivians by helping the MDP remove the current government.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy suggested that sometime government ally Gasim Ibrahim’s candor regarding judicial and security service pressure in his political decisions further supported the MDP’s coup theories.

Theories of a health service in crisis were given additional support this week by the death of a 31-year-old pneumonia patient en route to Malé as well as angry protests outside Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital.

Finally, Malé City Council this week revealed the extent of the littering problem blighting the streets of the capital, while experts revealed hopes for resurrection of the country’s reefs after in the face of a potentially devastation el nino.

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JSC decision on Judge Ali Hameed’s sex tape scandal “an insult to Islam”

The Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) decision to clear Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed of misconduct in a sex tape scandal is “an insult to Islam,” and against principles of Islamic jurisprudence, critics have said.

The judicial watchdog yesterday ruled Hameed innocent, claiming it can only take disciplinary action if there is sufficient evidence to indict Hameed in a court as per the Islamic Shariah and Maldivian law.

The JSC justified its ruling on a police decision to close investigations after failing to gain new evidence.

The JSC member representing the public Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman said the JSC had contravened Islamic principles in its decision.

“This is a misconduct case. Not a criminal case. Under Islamic fiqh (jurisprudence), misconduct complaints require less evidence than criminal and civil complaints. Judges can be dismissed if there’s too many public complaints against him,” he said.

“I believe there is enough evidence to take action,” he added.

Meanwhile, former JSC member and whistleblower Aishath Velezinee characterized the JSC decision as “the ultimate insult to Islam and Maldivian society.”

“This is a judiciary that sentences underage rape victims to be flogged. When they decide a Supreme Court judge, after being seen in a video that has gone viral, having illicit sex with multiple women, is not guilty of misconduct, what more can we say?”

Velezinee called on the public to protest, stating the decision shows the judiciary does not understand the law or the Shariah. Public silence on the matter will only allow the judiciary to “make a scandal of justice,” she added.

“To allow the Supreme Court, without protest, to decide any matter that affects you is to accept Ali Hameed has a right to judge for you. Protest!”

Ali Hameed is also accused of several counts of corruption and has been implicated in a separate tape where he appears to admit to a role in the fall of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Criminal

Several lawyers have echoed Shuaib’s concerns arguing the JSC does not have to follow the stringent standards used in a criminal trial in a case of misconduct.

“The JSC inquiry is not a criminal trial. They do not have to prove it by the standards employed in criminal proceedings. Their task is not to see if a judge is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The JSC inquiry is about misconduct, it is a disciplinary issue,” lawyer and former Minister of Youth and Sports Hassan Latheef said.

UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, in a 2013 report, also said disciplinary or administrative investigations entail different penalties than those arising from criminal procedures.

“Judges and magistrates, as well as other actors of the justice system are criminally accountable for their actions. Criminal actions entail consequences and penalties that are different from those resulting from disciplinary or administrative investigations,” said Knaul.

Latheef said judges must have public confidence, and Ali Hameed should have voluntarily resigned when the tapes were first leaked on social media in 2013.

“Islamic Sharia says all judges must have public confidence. Anyone who is perceived otherwise, cannot be a judge. A judge cannot be open to blackmail,” he added.

Latheef also called on the police to continue with investigations and said the police’s decision to file the case must be looked into.

According to local media, the investigation had stalled after the Criminal Court refused to provide a warrant to obtain a facial photograph of Ali Hameed and another to search his residence.

Political decision

Former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood also said the JSC had not complied with procedures in its conclusion and accused the commission of political bias.

Suood was appointed to a JSC subcommittee to investigate the case in December, but was expelled in January after the Supreme Court called for his removal after finding him guilty of contempt of court.

“I don’t think JSC has complied with existing procedures when they concluded this matter. This is a decision that needs to be revisited when the JSC is free from executive and judicial influence,” he said.

“JSC is under the full control of the executive. It doesn’t function independently, as envisaged in the constitution,” he added.

In Knaul’s report, she stated there was near unanimous consensus during her visit that the composition of the JSC – which draws members from sources outside the judiciary, such as the parliament, lawyers, and civil service commission – was “inadequate and politicized.”

“Because of this politicization, the commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly,” said Knaul.

Suood claimed President Abdulla Yameen is at present working to fix the JSC membership in the coming term.

Opposition MP Ahmed Hamza was removed from the JSC in January after he announced his decision to run for the March parliamentary polls.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court this week ruled any individual licensed as a lawyer, including judges and MPs, can vote to elect a member from the lawyer community to the commission.

Lawyers have spoken against the matter, arguing the decision compromised the independence of the legal profession.

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Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed cleared of misconduct in sex tape scandal

The Judicial Services Commission has today cleared Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed of misconduct charges, citing lack of evidence to indict him in a court for alleged appearance in three sex tapes involving three different foreign women.

The accused must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, said the judicial watchdog, which claimed it cannot take disciplinary action against a judge without “enough evidence.”

The JSC also cited the police’s Forensic Service Directorate’s failure to confirm the identity of the man involved in the sex tapes in its decision to clear Hameed of charges.

In it’s ruling, the JSC noted the following:

  • The police had closed investigations until new evidence emerged
  • The police had collected the sex tapes during an investigation into an attempt to blackmail a judge
  • The tape may constitute an act of espionage as it appears to have been filmed by an unauthorised body and it is against the constitution to obtain evidence by unlawful means
  • Supreme Court’s ruling on former Civil Service Commission President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan states disciplinary action can only be taken with sufficient evidence

Sex scandal

The Maldives Police Services formally launched an investigation in July 2013 after still images of the sex tape, alleged to show the judge committing adultery with an unidentified foreign woman, began circulating on social media.

At the time, the JSC voted not to suspend Hameed, citing lack of evidence.

Shortly afterwards, two more videos appearing to show Hameed engaging in sexual relations with two more foreign women were leaked on social media.

Business tycoon and former JSC member Gasim Ibrahim in July dismissed the sex tape as fake and an attempt at blackmail.

Gasim placed third in the first round of presidential polls in September and asked the High Court to annul the first round of polls.

The Supreme Court took over the case and ordered a revote claiming widespread vote fraud,with Hameed one of the four judges forming the majority verdict.

Images and symbols depicting scenes from the sex-tape formed a prominent part of protests against the court’s repeated interference in the subsequent round of polls.

Hameed also voted to unseat two opposition MPs over a case of decreed debt, and voted to remove Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek and his deputy Ahmed Fayaz for alleged contempt of court.

Systematic failure

In December, Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz said police investigation had stalled as police were unable to ascertain the identity of the man in the sex tapes.

At the time, local media Haveeru suggested the police had been unable to proceed with investigations due to the Criminal Court’s refusal to provide two key warrants in September.

The warrants reportedly include a warrant to take a facial photograph of Hameed and another to search his residence.

A second JSC sub-committee to investigate the matter asked for the judge’s suspension, but JSC President Adam Mohamed refused to put the suspension to a commission vote.

The now defunct Maldives Bar Association in April also called for the suspension of Hameed until investigations were complete.

“Given the serious nature of allegations against Ali Hameed, that the judge continues to hold trial contravenes norms of justice, conduct of judges, and established norms by which free and democratic societies deal with cases of this nature,” the statement read.

In May, the police closed investigations and said it would only open the case if it receives new information.

“Yameen’s back-up”

The room and date stamp in the sex tapes appear to be the same as that in previously leaked footage of Hameed meeting a local businessman Mohamed Saeed, the director of ‘Golden Lane’.

In that video, Hameed asserts that he was one of then Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen’s “back-ups”, and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

Yameen narrowly won the presidential election with Gasim’s backing.

“Even [ex Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid will know very well that my stand is to do things the way Yameen wants. That the fall of this government was brought with our participation,” he appears to add, although the audio quality is poor (01:49).

One of the men claims to have heard plans to “kill off” leader of former Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and refers to a “second person to be killed,” however, due to the unclear audio it is not clear what the parties are referring to, or the context of the “killing”.

The person believed to be Hameed then promises, “If it comes into my hands, I will kill him off.”

Corruption charges

The Prosecutor General’s Office in April also filed corruption charges against Hameed over illegal transfer of credit from his state- funded mobile phone in 2010.

However, the Criminal Court in May claimed case files had been destroyed in a coffee spill.

The case against Justice Hameed – accused of abuse of authority to benefit a third party – was sent to the PG office in July 2013 by the Anti-Corruption Commission after investigating allegations in the 2010 audit report of the Department of Judicial Administration.

Auditors found MVR2,223 (US$144) was transferred Justice Hameed’s state-funded mobile phone on different occasions during 2010.

Other cases

Meanwhile, the 2010 audit also discovered that MVR13,200 (US$856) was spent out of the apex court’s budget to repair a state-owned car used by an unnamed Supreme Court Justice, later revealed in the media to be Justice Hameed.

According to the police report cited by auditors, the driver of the justice’s car was responsible for the accident, which occurred on January 23, 2011.

However, the official driver insisted the car was undamaged when he parked and left it the previous night.

Despite the findings of the audit report, in March 2011 the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of corruption reported in local media regarding phone allowances and use of court funds to repair Justice Hameed’s car.

Moreover, in September 2011, the ACC began investigating allegations that over MVR50,000 (US$3,200) of state funds was spent on plane tickets for Justice Hameed’s official visit to China in December 2010.

The complainant alleged that Hameed also visited Sri Lanka and Malaysia both before and after his trip to China to attend a conference by the International Council of Jurists. A return ticket on a direct flight from Malé to Beijing at time cost MVR16,686 (US$1,080).

Furthermore, in May 2012, the ACC revealed that Justice Hameed was among three sitting judges illegally occupying state-owned apartments.

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Selfies and suspensions – The Weekly Review

May 17th – 23rd

The start of the AFC Challenge Cup and that selfie dominated headlines and twitter feeds this week.

Talk of national unity and a belief that the tournament could be a springboard for the advancement of the nation’s football will continue as the Maldives rode their luck to make it into next week’s semi-finals.

Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s luck also appeared to hold out this week as police announced investigations into the justice’s alleged appearance in a sex-tape were being suspended.

The Maldivian Democratic Party declared that this, along with the judicial watchdog’s failure to make headway with its own investigation, to be evidence of a justice system unable to deliver justice.

With criticism also coming from President Abdulla Yameen regarding the Judicial Services Commission’s failure to conclude cases in a timely fashion, the JSC stated that all procedures were being followed.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court continued to strengthen its grip on judicial administration with new regulations. The court was also said to have played a leading role in the decision to change the judge in the alcohol smuggling trial of governing coalition leader Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam.

Despite only one hearing having been held regarding the two-year-old charges, Shiyam had expressed concern that the presiding judge’s demeanour had indicated a personal grudge against him. Judge Abdulla Mohamed has taken over the case.

The Family Court was said to have ejected two representatives of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) this week, though the court itself denied the claims. A regional report from Transparency International urged the government to further empower the commission in order to fight graft.

The ACC received a case last week accusing Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb of using state-owned companies to withdraw millions of dollars which has not been repaid – charges Adeeb has refuted.

The government announced this week that it will soon empower one company to build the fabled Malé–Hulhulé bridge, with bidding set to open early next month. While plans for the US$7 million renovation of IGMH were also revealed.

With three minors convicted this week in relation to a fatal stabbing, the recent decision to facilitate the reintroduction of the death penalty again made international headlines. Former Home Minister Hassan Afeef, however, questioned the government’s sincerity in moving to end the sixty year moratorium.

Speaking at the country’s third Finance Forum this week, Maldives Monetary Authority Governor Dr Azeema Adam called for the government to work in concert with society to cut expenditure before a panel of experts discussed how to attract foreign investment.

The investments of the Foreign Ministry during 2011 were questioned by the auditor general this week, while the mayor of Malé City Council questioned the Finance Ministry’s assistance in the capital’s growing waste management problems.

The details of the deputy mayor’s run-in with a fellow council member – since suspended – were caught on tape. Progressive Party of Maldives councillor Ahmed Mamnoon bragged to Shifa Mohamed that he was a ‘gunda’ – thug/gangster.

Working alongside their Sri Lankan counterparts, the police this week returned convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak to the Maldives after he overstayed his medical leave.

Meanwhile, seven former employees of Sheraton’s Full Moon resort were escorted from the island by police, alleging that their dismissal was linked to their union activities.

Police also dismantled a youth hangout in Villimalé, leading to criticism from local MP Ahmed Nihan who questioned the police’s approach to dealing with the youth.

In the atolls this week, a “benchmark” low carbon emission project was launched in Laamu while a continuing drought in Haa Alif atoll caused the islanders on Ihavandhoo to pray for rain.

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Sun Shiyam’s alcohol possession trial delayed again

The second hearing in the alcohol possession and smuggling trial of Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) leader and MP Ahmed ‘Sun’ Shiyam has been cancelled for the third time in two months.

According to the Criminal Court, a scheduled hearing was cancelled today as the court was unable to deliver the summons chit.

Media reports that the presiding judge has been changed have today been denied by the court.

In March 2012, customs officers at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) discovered a bottle of alcohol in the MP’s luggage. After a police investigation, the case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office in August 2012 before being returned to police due to incomplete information.

The relative speed at which cases related to opposition MPs have travelled through the justice system prompted the Maldivian Democratic Party to seek a no-confidence motion against then PG Ahmed Muizz.

Muizz’s subsequent resignation last November has indirectly led to the current crisis in the country’s courts.

Shiyam was eventually charged – more than a year later – although a hearing scheduled for November 7 2013 was cancelled after a summons chit was not delivered to Shiyam.

The Criminal Court subsequently ordered police to present the MP in court, after which he appeared for the first hearing on March 13, 2014.

With local media reporting that Shiyam was kept in the guest area of the court – unlike other suspects – Shiyam denied the charges and requested more time to research the case.

A scheduled hearing for April 10 was again cancelled due to Shiyam’s absence from the capital, with the rescheduled hearing also cancelled as the court was unable to deliver the chit.

An unannounced hearing was attempted on March 27 prior to these official hearings, while Judge Ahmed Sameer Abdul Aziz – who is presiding over the case – was on leave. Citing an anonymous source at the court, local media outlet CNM reported that Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdullah Mohamed was behind this attempt.

“[Criminal Court Chief] Justice Abdulla [Mohamed]was to finish the case. In this regard he sent summoning chits to witnesses while they have not even been presented [by the state], and tried to hold a hearing today at 10am,” CNM quoted the official as saying.

The attempt eventually failed after after a number of court officials were absent from work, CNM was told.

While the case was not on the hearing schedule published on their official website, the court’s spokesperson told CNM such arrangements were not unlawful.

Replacing the judge

Meanwhile local media has reported that the court has now replaced Judge Abdul Aziz with Judge Shujau Usman upon Shiyam’s request.

The Criminal Court has denied these reports, saying that today’s hearing had also been scheduled to be conducted by Judge Abdul Aziz.

The media has published contents of a letter attributed to Shiyam which requests the removal Judge Abdul Aziz from the case stating the he has a personal grudge against the Meedhoo MP.

The letter, dated 24 April 2014, and addressed to to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz is said to states that, during the first hearing, Judge Abdul Aziz displayed hand gestures and facial expressions which suggested the possibility of acting impartially against Shiyam.

It stated that Judge Abdul Aziz was also displeased with the MDA leader following his complaints, and that Shiyam had received information the judge may be considering a hastened and strict verdict against him.

The letter described the case against Shiyam as “a devious plot by some powerful people” and a politically motivated lie invented by Shiyam’s enemies.

If found guilty, Shiyam could lose his seat in the parliament as per Article 73(c)(2) of the constitution which states that members will be disqualified upon receiving a criminal sentence of more than twelve months would.

Import and possession of alcohol without a special permit form the Ministry of Economic Development is is a criminal offence in the Maldives. The penalty for the crime under the Unlawful Imports Act is 1-3 years imprisonment, banishment or a fine between MVR1000 – 5000.

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Police suspend investigations into Supreme Court judge’s sex scandal

The Maldives Police Service has suspended investigations into Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s alleged appearance in a series of sex tapes.

“We have filed the Ali Hameed case. We do not have enough evidence to proceed further and it will only be opened again if we receive additional information,” a police media official told Minivan News today.

In December, Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz told the press the police had been unable to determine if the man seen fornicating with three different foreign women was Ali Hameed. The incident reportedly occurred in a hotel room in Colombo.

Nawaz at the time pledged to continue with the investigations with assistance from a foreign country. The police press conference followed local media reports that the investigations had stalled due to the Criminal Court’s failure to provide a warrant to take a facial photograph of the judge and a separate warrant to search his residence.

The judicial oversight body Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has meanwhile failed to take any action on the matter despite repeated recommendations by two subcommittees to suspend the judge for failure to cooperate with investigations.

The sex tapes first surfaced in May 2013 shortly after a film – also involving Hameed – began circulating on social media in which the judge appeared to be discussing political influence in the judiciary with a local businessman.

JSC member Shuaib Abdul Rahman and former member MP Ahmed Hamza have accused JSC President and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed of stalling the commission’s investigation into the scandal.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General (PG) has pressed corruption charges against Hameed over the illegal transfer of US$144 worth credit from his state-funded mobile phone in 2010.

But the Criminal Court has said case documents were destroyed in a coffee spill and has asked the PG’s Office to submit files again.

The auditor general discovered the offense in a 2010 audit of the Department of Judicial Administration and the case was subsequently investigated by the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC).

The audit also discovered that MVR13,200 (US$856) was spent out of the apex court’s budget to repair a state-owned car used by an unnamed Supreme Court Justice, later revealed in the media to be Justice Hameed.

According to the police report cited by auditors, the driver of the justice’s car was responsible for the accident, which occurred on January 23, 2011.

However, the official driver insisted the car was undamaged when he parked and left it the previous night.

Despite the findings of the audit report, in March 2011 the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of corruption reported in local media regarding phone allowances and use of court funds to repair Justice Hameed’s car.

Moreover, in September 2011, the ACC began investigating allegations that over MVR50,000 (US$3,200) of state funds was spent on plane tickets for Justice Hameed’s official visit to China in December 2010.

The complainant alleged that Hameed also visited Sri Lanka and Malaysia, both before and after his trip to China to attend a conference by the International Council of Jurists.

A return ticket on a direct flight from Malé to Beijing at time cost MVR16,686 (US$1,080).

Furthermore, in May 2012, the ACC revealed that Justice Hameed was among three sitting judges illegally occupying state-owned apartments.

The Maldives Bar Association in April has said Hameed’s continued presence on the Supreme Court bench contravenes Islamic Shariah and the norms of justice.

“Given the serious nature of the allegations against Ali Hameed, that the judge continues to hold trial contravenes norms of justice, conduct of judges, and established norms by which free and democratic societies deal with cases of this nature,” the organization said.

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain has refused to comment on the issue, stating in January: “We are speaking about accusations. The Chief Justice will comment on the matter when relevant authorities decide on the nature of the accusations. How many other’s have also faced accusations?”

Images and symbols depicting scenes from the sex-tape formed a prominent part of protests against the court’s repeated interference in the presidential election of 2013.

Hameed was one of the four judges who formed the majority in the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the initial first round of the 2013 presidential election, the ruling that unseated two opposition MPs over a controversial case of decreed debt, and the ruling that removed Elections Commission President and Vice President for alleged contempt of court.

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Justice Ali Hameed’s ‘corruption’ documents destroyed in coffee spill

The Criminal Court has asked the Prosecutor General’s Office (PG) to resend all files concerning Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed’s alleged misuse of state funds after case documents were destroyed in a coffee spill.

The PG has asked the Criminal Court to present the damaged documents three weeks ago, but the court has not done so yet, an official from the PGO told Minivan News.

The state is raising corruption charges against Ali Hameed over the illegal transfer of credit from his state-funded mobile phone in 2010.

An official from the Criminal Court told Minivan News on April 13 that the court had not decided to accept the case or not.

Cases filed by the PG office are scrutinised in the order of submission “to make sure all the paperwork is complete and that there are no missing documents,” he said. The process normally takes “two to three days,” he added.

The case against Justice Hameed – accused of abuse of authority to benefit a third party – was sent to the PG office in July 2013 by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) after investigating allegations in the 2010 audit report of the Department of Judicial Administration.

Auditors found that a Supreme Court Justice transferred MVR2,223 (US$144) from his state-funded mobile phone on different occasions during 2010.

According to the audit report, the interim Supreme Court bench on October 23, 2008 decided to provide for each justice “a post-paid line, a phone and to pay the phone bill without a set limit out of the court’s budget”.

The report also noted that between October 2008 and December 2011, Supreme Court judges paid their phone bills amounting to MVR 281,519 (US$18,257) from the state budget, despite the fact that parliament had not allocated any phone allowances to the judges. Additionally, MVR 117, 832 (US$7640) was found to have been overspent on wages and allowances to the driver of a judge’s car.

The judge is also currently subject to investigation over his alleged appearance in multiple leaked sex videos depicting him fornicating with foreign women in what appears to be a Colombo hotel room.

A further video also appears to show Hameed and a local businessman, Mohamed Saeed, discussing political influence in the judiciary.

Justice Hameed in the video reveals his political ‘hook-up’ with President Abdulla Yameen, claiming that he was one of Yameen’s “back-ups” and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”, promising to “kill off” Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali “if it comes into my hands.”

Even [Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid will know very well that my stand is to do things the way Yameen wants. That the fall of this government was brought with our participation,” he adds.

However, he also claims that he was a person who “even Yameen cannot play with” and that over time he had “shown Yameen” who he is.

After the sex tapes of Hameed surfaced in May 2013, the judicial oversight body, Judicial Services Commission (JSC), set up committees to investigate the case twice – in May and December 2013.

Both subcommittees unanimously recommended the JSC suspend Hameed pending an investigation.

However, in July 2013, the JSC disregarded the recommendation citing lack of evidence, while a JSC decision on the December subcommittee’s recommendation is still pending.

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