High Court dismisses Nasheed’s arrest warrant appeal

The High Court today dismissed former President Mohamed Nasheed’s appeal challenging the legality of the Criminal Court’s February 22 arrest warrant, after the opposition leader asked for an open hearing.

The High Court denied Nasheed’s request, claiming neither members of the public nor journalists were allowed to observe appeal hearings.

The appellate court dismissed the case after the former president reportedly refused to enter the courtroom.

Hisaan Hussain from Nasheed’s legal team told reporters that the High Court had decided in a circular to hold closed hearings for appeals concerning arrest warrants.

She argued that the decision was in violation of Article 42 of the Constitution and Article 71 of the Judicature Act as circulars did not have the force of either laws or regulations that derived its authority from an act of parliament.

Nasheed’s lawyer, Hassan Latheef, told Minivan News that the legal team has decided to appeal the High Court’s decision at the Supreme Court.

Article 42 of the Constitution states that “trials of any matter shall be held publicly” while the presiding judge could exclude the public in the interest of public morals, order and national security, or where juveniles or the victim of the crime requires, and in cases where public interest would prejudice justice.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) subsequently released a statement contending that the High Court did not have the legal authority to bar members of the public and journalists from observing hearings.

“By carrying out court proceedings in a manner that prevents constitutional rights and protection, the High Court is losing public trust, with the appeal process losing its meaning,” the MDP said.

Following the Criminal Court convicting Nasheed on terrorism charges on Friday night (March 13), Latheef said the legal team has requested the court report in order to appeal the 13-year prison sentence at the High Court within ten days.

A Supreme Court circular in January shortened the maximum appeal period from 90 days to ten days, claiming it would ensure the right to appeal in a timely manner.

“The Criminal Court informed us that the report will be provided in seven to 14 days,” said Latheef, noting that it would leave the defence team two days to prepare for the appeal hearing.

“Every aspect of this trial is very different from normal procedures followed by the courts,” he said.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz said yesterday that the government would ensure Nasheed’s right to appeal.

“I believe the Criminal Court would have afforded due process in the conduct of Nasheed’s trial. If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz insisted.

“We have a system of separation of powers. In a democracy, the head of state does not interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,” Muaz said.

Nasheed was brought from the Dhoonidhoo detention centre to Malé around 1:30pm.

Hundreds of protesters were gathered near the High Court building, demanding the former president’s immediate release.

MDP High Court Protest

Police informed Minivan News that four individuals were arrested from the protest for allegedly obstructing police duties and for trying to harm police officers. Minivan News journalists observed police officers using pepper spray indiscriminately while making the arrests.

MDP High Court Protest

Throughout the Criminal Court trial, Nasheed maintained that he had been deprived of basic constitutional rights, including the right to legal counsel, right to appeal, and the right to be provided adequate time to prepare a defence. Judges also refused to hear defence witnesses claiming they did not appear to negate the prosecution’s case.

Delivering the guilty verdict Friday night, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed as commander-in-chief ordered the arrest or “forceful abduction” of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The former president was arrested on February 22 after Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin personally sought an arrest warrant from the Criminal Court ahead of the surprise terrorism trial.

Related to this story

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

Government will ensure Nasheed’s right to appeal conviction, says spokesperson

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court

MDP to launch national civil disobedience campaign to free Nasheed


Nasheed denied right to appoint lawyer and appeal “arbitrary” arrest warrant, contend lawyers

Former President Mohamed Nasheed is being denied the constitutional right to appoint a lawyer as well as the right to appeal the Criminal Court’s “arbitrary” arrest warrant ahead of a surprise terrorism trial due to commence today, contends the opposition leader’s legal team.

At a press conference this afternoon, Nasheed’s legal team revealed that the Criminal Court informed the lawyers this morning that they had to register at the court two days in advance despite being unaware of the trial until the former president’s arrest less than 24 hours ago.

“How can we submit forms two days ahead for a trial we did not know would take place two days before? It is clear to any sane person, this is absolute nonsense,” said Hisaan Hussain.

Nasheed was arrested at 2:30pm from his residence Yagoothuge yesterday (February 22). The warrant issued by the Criminal Court stated that Nasheed was being arrested on suspicion that he may abscond from trial.

Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin filed terrorism charges against the former president yesterday over the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The court first informed Nasheed’s lawyers – Hisaan Hussain, Hassan Latheef and Ibrahim Riffath – that they could not advocate at the Criminal Court as neither were officially registered.

Hassan Latheef noted that the Criminal Court’s registrar also refused to meet the lawyers before 1:30pm.

Two other lawyers from the five-member legal team – Abdulla Shaairu and Ahmed Abdulla Afeef, prominent criminal defence lawyers who are both registered at the Criminal Court – were then told that they must register again to represent Nasheed.

However, the court subsequently informed the pair that according to court regulations they must submit registration forms two days in advance to be authorised to represent Nasheed at today’s trial.

“We only found out charges had been filed by the Prosecutor General yesterday. There is no way we could have submitted forms ahead of that two day period,” said Shaairu.

“The constitution clearly affords all citizens the right to legal counsel, from the moment they are first accused to the moment the suspicion is resolved. Here, we are speaking of a man who is a former president, a man who has the majority support of the public. If he is not treated justly, what hope is there for the ordinary man?”

Right to appeal

Under new regulations enacted by the Supreme Court this month outlining the appeal process, Nasheed’s lawyers explained that appeal forms must be sent through the trial court to the appellate court.

In order to appeal the arrest warrant, the lawyers explained, the appeal must be filed at the Criminal Court, which would then forward the case to the High Court within a seven day period.

However, the Criminal Court informed Nasheed’s lawyers this morning that the new appeal forms had not been provided to the court.

Hisaan noted that the Criminal Court was unlikely to expedite the process of appealing its own rulings, “especially in cases of unlawful arrest.”

The new regulations deny citizens the constitutional right to appeal court decisions, she asserted.

Ahmed Abdulla Afeef meanwhile suggested that the Criminal Court could use the sample form provided by the Supreme Court and copy the trial court’s letterhead, adding that the legal team was ready with all the paperwork to submit the appeal as soon as possible.


Nasheed’s lawyers also expressed concern over “several irregularities” in the warrant signed by Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf at 12:30pm yesterday, noting the absence of  key information such as place and time period of detention.

Despite the Criminal Court scheduling the first hearing of the terrorism trial for 4:00pm today, the warrant does not state that Nasheed must be brought to trial today.

Moreover, under normal procedure, police request arrest warrants to detain a suspect in an investigation.

However, in Nasheed’s case, PG Muhsin personally went to the Criminal Court yesterday and obtained the warrant, the lawyers revealed.

“We have always noted the state in prosecuting President Nasheed, has previously acted unlawfully. In this instance, we see the Prosecutor General so clearly and publicly flouting the law for political motives. We call on the PG to show independence and to act within the constitution,” said Hisaan.

The legal team also revealed that the Criminal Court has issued a new warrant ordering police to present Nasheed at for the terrorism trial due to begin at 4:00pm.

The lawyers noted the lack of continuity between the warrants, arguing that Nasheed must be released immediately if yesterday’s warrant is now outdated.

“I think police themselves are not clear what to do next. There is no time period in the warrant, so should he be brought before court in 24 hours? But that is done when an individual is arrested in an ongoing investigation, if there is no court order,” explained Hisaan.

“And if there is a court warrant, then the time period in the warrant expires. This case, however, is not an ongoing investigation.
It is not clear to anyone what they are trying to do. All we know is that there’s been serious and several violations of the constitutions, law and norms in issuing this warrant and in arresting the former president.”

“Abscond from trial”

Nasheed was arrested on the grounds that he had attempted to abscond trial during proceedings at the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court last year. A police intelligence report was also submitted as evidence to obtain the arrest warrant.

But the lawyers insist Nasheed cannot be held in detention because he “had never absconded from court, nor have taken the opportunity to flee or go into hiding, during numerous opportunities he had in the past few weeks to travel abroad, and that he had expressly informed the judiciary and Prosecutor General that he does not have any intention to abscond from Court or avoid charges being brought against him.”

PG Office Spokesperson Adam Arif told Minivan News that Nasheed’s arrest warrant was different from those issued in instances where an individual refuses to appear at court.

Nasheed had not previously been informed he would be prosecuted on terrorism charges.

Meanwhile, the PG office insisted in a statement yesterday that there was no legal “obstacle” to raising charges against former President Nasheed as a court had not ruled that the case submitted to the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court on September 1, 2012 could not be heard.

After withdrawing the case for further review on February 15, the Prosecutor General decided “the best way [forward] in this case is to change the charges raised against Mohamed Nasheed and the court in which it was filed”.

The PG pressed terrorism charges against the former president under authority granted by the constitution, the Prosecutor General’s Act, and High Court rulings, the statement added.

“Therefore, as the case against Mohamed Nasheed is in the court process, we note that it is not desirable for politicians, some members of the public, political parties, and some media to talk in a way that both creates anxiety among the public about verdicts issued by courts and causes loss of confidence in independent institutions created by the constitution,” reads the PG’s statement.


Home Minister returns to Malé, High Court rejects appeal to overturn arrest warrant

Home Minister Umar Naseer has returned to the Maldives from an official visit to the Netherlands, although police have made no move to arrest the minister as per a Criminal Court arrest warrant.

The warrant orders the Maldives Police Services to arrest and present the minister at the Criminal Court on Tuesday (June 17) to answer charges of disobedience to order. The case has been scheduled for 11am tomorrow.

Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi issued the warrant on Thursday while Naseer was away in the Netherlands to source sniffer dogs and body scanners.

Naseer’s lawyer Adam Asif appealed the warrant at the High Court, but the court rejected the appeal today claiming an arrest warrant cannot be appealed.

Article 56 of the constitution grants individuals the right to appeal convictions, sentences, judgments or orders by the courts, but arrest warrants do not fall under the category, said the High Court.

The police were not responding to calls at the time of press.

Naseer had failed to attend three consecutive hearings. Two of the hearings were scheduled during Naseer’s Netherlands visit from June 9 – 16.

The minister is accused of calling for 2,000 volunteers on January 23, 2012 to storm the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters with 50 ladders during the two weeks of protests sparked by the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

If convicted, Naseer faces banishment, imprisonment or house arrest not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding MVR150 (US$ 10) under Article 88(a) of the penal code.

He denied charges during the first hearing into the case on April 27. At a second hearing on May 22, he asked the court to strike down the clause he is being prosecuted under.

The Prosecutor General’s Office is pressing disobedience to order charges under Article 88 of the Penal Code with reference to Article 8 (a) of the General Laws.

The General Laws was passed in 1968 and the clause in question prohibits writing or speech against any tenet of Islam.

Meanwhile, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Eva Abdulla has tabled a motion at the People’s Majlis, to summon Naseer for questioning over comments he made in 2013 implicating President Abdulla Yameen in the death of MP Afrasheem Ali in 2012.

Naseer lost to Yameen in the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) primaries in April 2013. He held a rally in which he alleged widespread vote rigging and accused Yameen of illicit connections with gangs and the illegal drug trade.

Yameen met with an individual accused of Afrasheem’s murder at the PPM offices, Naseer said at the time.

He was later expelled from the PPM and joined the Jumhooree Party (JP), backing tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim for the presidency. The JP placed third in November’s presidential polls, before throwing its weight behind the PPM at the eleventh hour in exchange for a 35 percent stake in government.

Naseer was appointed home minister on a slot allocated for the JP although the coalition agreement was dissolved in May following a dispute over Gasim’s decision to stand for the Majlis speaker position.

Two of the four JP ministers have now joined the PPM and its ally the Maldives Development Alliance.


Tension surges in Male’ as police arrest former President Mohamed Nasheed

Photo courtesy Jaawid Naseem, Jade Photography

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has been arrested by police ahead of his trial hearing at Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, scheduled for 4:00pm tomorrow (March 6).

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that Nasheed had been arrested and taken into police custody at 1:30pm today (March 5).

“We have received the order. Police have taken Nasheed into custody in order to produce him at Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court 16 hours from now,” Haneef told Minivan News.

Photos of the arrest showed several dozen police wearing balaclavas and black riot gear, several armed with rubber bullet guns, entering Nasheed’s family home in Male’ and emerging with the former president.

Shortly after the arrest, Minivan News observed President Mohamed Waheed’s brother Ali Waheed forced off his motorcycle by several dozen angry demonstrators on the main road Majeedee Magu, at the turnoff to Nasheed’s house. A second, larger group pulled Ali Waheed to safety, abandoning his motorcycle. The first group then attacked a parked military vehicle, smashing a window.

A group of people including Nasheed’s representative on the Commission of National Inquiry, Ahmed ‘Gaha’ Saeed, blocked the road, trying to calm the more violent protesters. One man had laid down in the middle of the street as part of a silent protest.
“People have waited a year since the coup and are very angry and unlikely to act reasonably. They could bring Male’ to a standstill,” Saeed said.
Former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam, arriving at the scene, said “There is no plan. People are agitated, they are angry. There is no plan, there is just outrage.”

Nasheed’s latest trial hearing follows his exit from the Indian High Commission last month, after the Maldivian and Indian government came to an alleged “understanding” that he would be able to conduct a peaceful campaign and participate in an inclusive election.

The former president told Indian media on Sunday (March 3) that while he had ended his 11-day stay in the Indian High Commission, he was still not entirely free and feared an arrest warrant would be issued against him any day soon.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor confirmed to Minivan News that there were Special Operation (SO) officers outside Nasheed’s residence earlier today prior to his arrest.

“He has been taken away to Dhoonidhoo [prison], we are still in a state of shock,” Hamid said.

The former President sought refuge inside the High Commission building on February 13 after Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court ordered police to produce Nasheed at his trial hearing scheduled for later that day.

Nasheed has maintained that the charges against him – of detaining the Chief Criminal Court judge during his final days in office – are a politically-motivated effort to prevent him contesting the 2013 elections.

Nasheed spent 11 days inside the commission building before making an unannounced exit on February 23.

Following his exit from the High Commission, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court issued a travel ban to Nasheed, preventing him from leaving the country.


2:30pm: Shortly after Nasheed’s arrest, Minivan News observed President Mohamed Waheed’s brother Ali Waheed being pulled off his motorcycle by several dozen angry demonstrators on the main road Majeedee Magu. A second, larger group pulled Ali Waheed to safety, abandoning his motorcycle. The first group then attacked a military vehicle, smashing a window as it tried to move past the group.

3:00pm: More people are arriving outside the City Council Building near the demonstration, nearing a hundred people or so in size. Shops in the vicinity are closed, and one man is lying down in the middle of the road, stepped over by the occasional pedestrian. People on motorcycles are stopping to look, and turning around to find another route.

3:10pm: A separate group of two dozen men are turning away traffic at the next intersection, in an apparent attempt to shut down Male’s main road. No sign of police presence yet. A man passes through the blockade with a young girl on a motorcycle, to shouts of “baghee” (traitor).

3:12pm: Nasheed’s brother Dr Nashid tweets: – “given all clear to go to Dhoonidhoo [detention centre]. Waiting for Laila [Nasheed’s wife]”. In a second tweet, he adds that Nasheed’s bodyguards “were changed this morning.”

3:28pm: President Waheed tweeted: “Assaulting my brother Ali Waheed will not help Nasheed escape justice.”

3:30pm: A pickup truck is circling Male’ calling on people to come out on the streets. Light rain earlier has since cleared up.

3:37pm: Photos circulating on social media appear to show one of Nasheed’s bodyguard being restrained by police as the former President was escorted outside his family home.

3:39pm: Approximate 30 police have arrived at the scene. Demonstators threw plastic bottles at officers, who subsequently departed after detaining former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam. The crowd numbers around 200 people.

3:42pm: SunOnline reports that protesters on Majeedhee Magu have pushed off a uniformed police officer from his motorcycle as he was driving through the protesters. The policeman abandoned his motorcycle and left on foot when the crowd moved to attack him, Sun reports.

3:44pm: Abbas Faiz, South Asia Specialist for Amnesty International tweets: Amnesty investigating concerns that former prez Nasheed arrest politically motivated and his safety uncertain.

3:46pm: A masked man climbed up the posts on which CCTV cameras are mounted on the junction of Majeedhee Magu and Alikilegefaanu Magu and spray-painted the camera, reports Sun Online.

4:01pm: A video of Nasheed outside his house has emerged on DhiTV, titled ‘Anni’s Quarrel’. In the video, a Special Operations police officer states: “We will accompany you there.” Nasheed: “Well, let’s go then. I won’t go in that way. I am doing what is good for you… I will know better than you. Let’s go already.” [Former Foreign Minister] Naseem: “He is going, isn’t he? What is wrong with you baaghees (traitors)?” “Nasheed: Sigh. What more can I say? Even I would know these laws and responsibilities. For God’s sake, let’s just go. Let’s go quickly. Let’s just go quickly.”

4:03pm: The Maldivian Democratic Party has issued a statement condemning the arrest:

President Nasheed was arrested while walking down the street in Male’ at approximately 13:45 local time today. He was apprehended by numerous armed and masked police officers, who did not identify themselves, nor produce an arrest warrant or court summons. Nasheed’s lawyers were not informed of the arrest, or of any court summons.

President Nasheed was taken to Dhoonidhoo Island detention centre – the facility in which he was tortured during the former regime of Maumoon Gayoom.

Commenting on the arrest, the MDP’s international spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said: “Once again Dr Waheed has proven that he can’t be trusted to hold a free and fair election – despite his assurances to the international community.

“Nasheed was supposed to be on an election campaign trip but instead he is languishing in jail.

“This arrest comes just days after the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, said the judges overseeing President Nasheed’s case had been appointed “arbitrarily”.

“Dr Waheed, in collusion with his friends in the judiciary, is pulling out all the stops to prevent President Nasheed competing in the elections.”

The UN Special Rapporteur also said that the Judicial Services Commission, which established the court trying President Nasheed, was “politicised” and subject to “external influence”.

4:07pm: The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has issued a statement condemning an attack on Sun journalist and a VTV cameraman:

Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) strongly condemns the violent attacks carried out against a journalist and a cameraman while covering the arrest of former President Nasheed today.

The journalist from sun.mv was attacked and tore his shirt and snatched his mobile phone while VTV cameraman was attacked and snatched his video tape in his camera. Both the incidents was happened near former president Nasheeds residence. We strongly call on all parties to allow media to do its duty without any harrasements. And also call on all responsible authorities to investigate the above incidents and call on media regulatory authorities to not to allow ‘hate speech’ on media.

4:11pm: President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad told Minvan News: “I have already told Indian and local media that the Maldives government has made no deal with the Indian government over Nasheed’s exit from the Indian High Commission. It was never said there would be a delay in Nasheed’s trial hearing, or his court case or any other matter involving him.”

“[The government] cannot make any delay or decision based on legal matters because it is not our business, it is the judiciary’s decision,” Masood said.

Asked if Nasheed’s arrest would harm relations between Maldives and India, Masood said: “If we had made a deal and broken it, then that would be an issue. But we have not made any deal, and there has been no deal between India and the Maldives regarding Nasheed’s case. There was no understanding between the respective governments. If Nasheed thought there was an understanding, it must have been something he understood. There is no dealing between us and the judiciary on Nasheed’s judgement, It is totally up to the judiciary, we will have have no interference with the court. I did not know that the court would order police to summon Nasheed today.”

4:21pm: Scuffles are breaking out between protesters and passerbys they deem to be “baghees” (traitors). One woman clung to a man screaming as the crowd surrounded them. “There is hatred here,” said one protester. “He was asking for it. He could see there was a [blockade] but came through anyway.”

The attitude of the crowd is divided between the angry and those appealing for calm. Around 20 riot police have arrived with shields.

4:30pm: Police reinforcements have arrived at an nearby intersection, heckled by the crowd of 200 demonstrators blocking the road.

4:31pm: A middle-aged women was arrested after heckling and singing songs, and was dancing in the back of the police truck. A further five or so individuals have been arrested.

4:36pm: Police have brought the area under control and are now directing traffic.

5:30pm: The US Embassy in Colombo has issued a statement:

The United States is increasingly concerned about ongoing events in Malé. We understand that both the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission are monitoring the situation, and that the Human Rights Commission has requested access to Former President Nasheed.  We urge all sides to remain calm, reject the use of violence, and avoid rhetoric that could increase tensions. Former President Nasheed must be accorded due process under the law regarding his pending court cases.

We urge that the Presidential elections scheduled for September 7, 2013 be free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive. The integrity of and public confidence in the Maldivian electoral process must be maintained. Accordingly, we note that all parties participating in these elections should be able to put forward the candidate of their choice. We also call upon the Government of the Maldives to implement all the recommendations of the Commission of National Inquiry (CONI) report, including the recommendations related to judicial and governmental reforms.  We continue to urge all parties to chart a way forward that strengthens Maldivian democratic institutions, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms.

5:30pm: Sun Online reports that protesters have rolled over a Redwave van (owned by shop owner Eydhafushi MP Ahmed Saleem) near Male’ City Council. The van was broken into, milk packets were taken and subsequently distributed to protesters.

5:51pm: British entrepeneur Richard Branson has tweeted on the Nasheed arrest: “Maldives former president Nasheed arrested, in court tomorrow. Hope he is treated with respect & fairness”.

6:31pm: Local media has reported that police have once again left Majeedee Magu.

7:10pm: Some 150 demonstrators remain on Majeedee Magu, situated around 20 metres from the Male’ City Council building. No police presence is witnessed by Minivan News at the current time, although traffic is still being diverted as a result of the makeshift blockade.

8:52pm: At a press conference held this evening, the Maldives Police Service have said that a total of 47 people were arrested so far during demonstrations today on Majeedee Magu.  Of those arrested 31 were male, 16 females were also detained.  Among those arrested was MDP MP Ahmed Easa, who authorities said was later released.


Trial hearing cancelled after police report failure to produce Nasheed

Additional reporting by Neil Merrett.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s trial hearing scheduled for 4:00pm today (February 20) was cancelled by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court after police were unable to present him to judicial authorities due to his presence in the Indian High Commission.

The High Court meanwhile threw out an appeal hearing into the first warrant issued on February 13, after Nasheed failed to appear at a hearing scheduled for 1:00pm this afternoon.

On Monday (February 18), the magistrate court issued a second arrest warrant requesting police present Nasheed on charges of illegally detaining Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his final days in office.

An official from the Judiciary Media Unit confirmed Nasheed’s hearing was cancelled after police said the former president could not be arrested while still inside the Indian High Commission.

“Police have said they won’t be able to bring Nasheed to Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court and so the hearing has been cancelled. A new hearing is yet to be scheduled by the court,” the official said.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have said Nasheed will remain inside the High Commission until an interim government is established ahead of the presidential elections in September.

Police have cordoned off the street outside the High Commission, but have so far taken a hands off approach towards the few hundred Nasheed supporters protesting at the barricades.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.


Nasheed and the MDP have maintained that the charges against him are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent the former president from contesting in presidential elections scheduled for later this year.

Nasheed’s lawyer Hassan Latheef said the former president’s team of lawyers were having to rely on the media to receive updates regarding the latest news from Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, and were not being officially informed of any decisions it was making.

“It is very unfortunate that we are not directly informed by the court regarding the developments in this case. Instead, we are having to contact the court for information,” he said.

“We are relying on the media for updates. Now that the court hearing has been cancelled, we have no idea what will happen,” Latheef said.

Asked whether about the possibility of the trial being conducted in absentia, Latheef added: “The constitution states clearly that no trial can be held with the defendant being absent.”

“However, knowing this particular court and the knowing the magistrates on the case, as well as the police and government, I do not doubt it could happen,” Latheef said.

Earlier today, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the Foreign Ministry had already been in touch with the Indian High Commission to try get them to hand Nasheed over to police.

“I wouldn’t put it past the government to raid the Indian High Commission, partly because nobody expects them to do it,” Ghafoor said.

India’s Special Envoy arrives

India’s Special Envoy Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Male’ today to try and resolve the stalemate, which has attracted widespread international media coverage, and extensive attention from the Indian media. No headway or details of meetings had been reported at time of press.

Meanwhile, a small police presence manned barricades around the the Indian High Commission building ahead of the scheduled trial.

Minivan News also observed a large UN contingent sitting in Traders Hotel opposite the High Commission. UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, is currently in the country for a scheduled visit until February 24.

A large number of tourists were passing through the barricades and having their photos taken with police officers controlling traffic outside the high commission. A row of 30 bouquets of flowers had been placed against the wall of the commission earlier in the day by a group of female Nasheed supporters. One had a card the read: “We will always be with our President (Anni) XX”.

As the time of the hearing neared, around 200 MDP supporters gathered outside the party office on Sosun Magu before moving to the Prosecutor General (PG)’s Office demanding the PG withdraw the charges against former President Nasheed.

As the 4:00pm deadline passed, a few hundered supporters and onlookers once again gathered on Sosun Magu, where they have been holding successive daily demonstrations since Friday (February 15).

Around 20 riot officers were deployed to control the crowd, remaining a few hundred yards away from the protesters.  The atmosphere was tense as supporters continued to heckle authorities, however at time of press police had taken no action to disperse the demonstration.

However police subsequently seized a yellow-painted pick-up truck equipped with a loudspeaker that was playing the party’s protest songs, claiming that it was disturbing nearby schoolchildren.


Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court issues second arrest warrant for Nasheed

The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has issued a second arrest warrant for former President Mohamed Nasheed, an official from the Judiciary Media Unity has confirmed.

Five days after Nasheed sought refuge inside the Indian High Commission, the Judiciary Media Unity confirmed to Minivan News that Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has now issued a new arrest warrant, ordering police to produce Nasheed at the court on February 20 at 4:00pm.

Police Spokesperson Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef also confirmed that the Maldives Police Service had received the court order for Nasheed’s arrest.

The former president has been taking refuge inside the Indian High Commission building in Male’ since February 13 to avoid arrest, after Hulhumale’ court previously ordered police to produce him at his scheduled trial.

Nasheed and his party have maintained that the charges put forward against him – of illegally detaining Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed during his final days in office – are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting presidential elections scheduled for later this year.

The latest arrest warrant comes after Nasheed failed to attend the last two scheduled trial hearings on February 10 and February 13.

An official from the Indian High Commission told Minivan News they were waiting to see the arrest warrant and are “watching the current situation”.

The situation has contributed to an escalation in diplomatic tensions between India and the Maldives, which has accused the former of interference in internal Maldivian affairs.

High Commissioner D M Mulay was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday and presented with a protest note from the government.

On Monday the High Commission released a statement “denying in entirety” allegations that it was being used by the former President “for political meetings and instigating street violence”.

Thousands of supporters of the former president have been protesting in the capital Male’ since Nasheed moved into the Indian High Commission last Wednesday.

On Saturday (February 16) over 5000 supporters marched through the streets of Male’ clashing with police, which resulted in 55 arrests during the night.

Nasheed’s decision to seek asylum in the Indian High Commission caught the attention of the international community last week. The US, UK, EU, UN and Commonwealth have since urged the Maldivian government to show restraint, whilst calling for “inclusive, free and fair elections” in September.

Arrest warrant is a threat to Nasheed’s life: MDP

Following the news of the latest warrant, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party are “firmly” against the former President from standing trial in an “illegitimate court”.

“The party firmly believes that he should not go [to Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court] and we firmly believe that the arrest warrant threatens his life.

“The moment he steps out of the Indian High Commission, that will be the end of him. Even the international community have recognised this as a witch hunt,” Ghafoor told Minivan News.

When asked as to whether former president will comply with the court order, Ghafoor said “it is Nasheed’s call”.

“The question is, what do the Indians do now? The Maldives authorities will now have to approach the Indian High Commission and ask them to hand him over.

“The minute the Indian government gave him refuge, they took a position. I can’t see the Indian government dropping Nasheed like a hot potato,” Ghafoor added.

The MDP spokesperson claimed the government had alienated itself from the international community given their stance on the matter. Ghafoor further claimed that foreign governments and organisations “can see” that attempts to arrest Nasheed “are nothing more than a witch hunt”.

India’s involvement criticised by Maldives officials

India’s involvement in the political dispute has been criticised by members of the Maldivian government, with the Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeting last week: “What’s happening now gives us an indication of the extent and level of interest some countries prepared to take in our internal matters,” he said.

“I would strongly urge everyone to let our institutions deal with the challenges, and allow the Maldives to uphold rule of law,” he tweeted.

President of the Maldives, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik released his own statement yesterday condemning Nasheed’s actions on Wednesday.

“I am dismayed that the former President Nasheed sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male’ when he was summoned to the court. The court order which required the Police to arrest Nasheed and have him appear before the court was due to his refusal to attend court hearing. It had expired at 1600 hours on the 13 February 2013, and there is no reason for him to remain in the High Commission and to instigate street violence.

“The court order has nothing to do with my government. Upholding the rule of law means nobody is above the law. I would like to assure the people of Maldives that the law and order will be maintained,” the President’s statement read.


High Court to decide on injunction for Nasheed trial

The High Court will decide on a request by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team for an injunction halting his trial over the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed at a hearing on November 4, the same day the trial at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court is set to resume.

Concluding today’s hearing of an appeal lodged by Nasheed’s legal team, challenging the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’s ruling on three procedural issues raised at the magistrate court’s first hearing on October 9, High Court Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariya said the three-judge panel would issue a ruling on the injunction at the next hearing on the morning of November 4.

Speaking to press after the hearing, Nasheed’s lead attorney Hisaan Hussain explained that a request was made for a temporary injunction to suspend the criminal trial pending a ruling by the High Court on the procedural points.

“Today we submitted in detail the reasons we are seeking a temporary injunction,” she said. “In response, the Prosecutor General’s Office said they did not have anything further to say about issuing the injunction and to proceed in the way the court decides. That is, they do not object to [the court] issuing the injunction.”

On the High Court scheduling its next hearing for November 4, Hisaan noted that the next hearing at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was scheduled for 4:00pm on the same day.

“We believe seeking an injunction is by its nature a matter of urgency,” she said. “So we have requested that the court expedite its decision on the injunction. We hope the court would make a decision before [November 4]. We will make such a request to the court in writing as well.”

At today’s hearing, Nasheed’s legal team raised the three procedural points dismissed by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court: a magistrate court holding a trial on a different island to where it was based; the constitutional legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court; and the legality of the arrest warrant issued by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, as such orders could only be issued by a court in the locality of the defendant’s permanent address.

At the October 9 hearing, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court summarily dismissed the first two points and agreed to hear the last issue. The court however ruled that the warrant was issued legally as it was following a precedent established by the High Court.

Meanwhile, the High Court today allowed the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to enter into the appeal case as third parties on the issue of the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Lawyers from both institutions were present at today’s hearing. The state was represented by lawyers from the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO).

Requesting the injunction, Hisaan reportedly argued that failure to do so could cause irreparable injury to the rights of the defendant as the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court could conclude its trial and sentence the former President before the High Court ruled on the appeal.

While Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham asked for an opportunity to respond to the request for an injunction, Judge Shuaib said that the three-judge panel had decided that the AGO attorney could not be allowed to argue regarding the injunction.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also attended the hearing along with MPs, senior members and supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Almost an hour before the beginning of the hearing, police assisted by officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) cordoned off the area surrounding the High Court at the former presidential palace.

“Unfair and unjust”

The MDP secretariat meanwhile issued a statement in the wake of the hearing expressing concern with the High Court’s scheduling of its next hearing for November 4.

“The party believes that the result of conducting both hearings on the same day will be the defence attorneys losing the opportunity to prepare for the original case at the ‘Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’,” the statement read.

The MDP statement contended that the defence attorneys could only prepare for the trial based on the decision on the procedural processes.

The party also noted that the High Court has in the past conducted hearings at night and on public holidays to issue temporary injunctions.

“However, while a week has passed since the appeal and request for an injunction on behalf of President Nasheed has been filed at the High Court when the hearing was held today, the party believes that the decision to issue a ruling on the injunction on the same day the original case is to be conducted at the ‘Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’ is neither fair nor just,” the party said.