Nasheed sole focus of government’s charges following CNI findings: Home Minister

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has told local media that former President Mohamed Nasheed was the only individual the government would charge following the findings of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI)’s report.

Addressing the February 8 police crackdown on demonstrators, Jameel claimed that the government had not yet been able to organise or appoint a full cabinet on the day.  He added that the police themselves were responsible for their acts at that time and any potential charges they may face over the report’s conclusions.

Dr Jameel said that the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), according to its mandate, will look into issues concerning police conduct.

The fourth key finding of the CNI report called for an investigation of acts of police brutality of February 6, 7 and 8, although this was not revealed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan during the report’s release on Thursday.

Spokesman for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Hamid Abdul Ghafoor today responded to Jameel’s comments, saying: “The people who committed these crimes are responsible for implementing the CNI. The CNI has given room for politicians to free themselves.”

Ghafoor said that the report “articulated urgency” with regards to generating confidence in the nation’s key institutions.

He also reiterated the MDP’s call for the immediate implementation of legal proceedings against those implicated in wrong doing.

During a press conference yesterday, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim stated that he wanted to further highlight Nasheed’s “lies”.  He added that contrary to Nasheed’s claims the day before, the CNI report made no mention of any illegal actions or involvement in an alleged “coup d’etat” by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

Former President Nasheed recently suggested that a core of 300 police and military officers were “undermining the public interest of the entire country”.

Ghaoor said today that as long as these people remained in their positions, “the country will be run by a military dictatorship”, before appealing to CMAG to review the findings of the report.

“I do not believe they will leave the country at the mercy of armed forces,” said Ghafoor following the Commonwealth’s encouragement of all sides to respect the report’s findings.

Jameel yesterday indicated his belief that the CNI report relieved the current government of any further obligations to negotiate with Nasheed, regardless of any external pressure.

“No international power can coerce this government into discussions with Nasheed again. This chapter closes here,” Dr Jameel said.

Both Jameel and Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor went on to advise the country’s youth against backing Nasheed, calling him a “habitual liar”.

“Do you realise what sort of a man you are following? He is a habitual liar, do you understand? And what exactly do you achieve by staying behind him? You just have to keep facing police and military action, be answerable to PG and courts, and end up in jail, leaving your young wives and children behind. Is this the future you want?” Dr Jameel said.

Statements from the United States, India, the United Nations and the Commonwealth all urged continuing dialogue amongst political actors.

Nazim said that, just as he had stated prior to the release of the report, the government would not be taking any action against any MNDF officers with regard to the CNI report.

Nazim did confirm that he would be taking legal action against all persons who referred to any MNDF soldier or to himself as ‘baaghee’ (a Dhivehi word meaning: a traitor who had brought about or participated in a coup).

The executive summary of the CNI report stated that urgent reforms were needed to the “basic institutions of democratic governance” and that justice “needs to be seen to be done in order to reassure the public and inspire their confidence.”

Nazim instead focused on the report’s ruling that there had been no coup in the Maldives, and hence no one had a right to label as traitors either the soldiers or any member of the executive, including himself, who, despite having been relieved of his duties officially, had acted as a commander of the MNDF Forces on February 7 in a personal capacity.

“Because I was there in a personal capacity, President Nasheed has often named me as a man who has administered a coup. But I would like to point out that my name does not come up in the CNI report at all,” Nazim claimed.

Nazim is identified in the CNI report as one of three “critical participants” on February 7  as one of three people who – along with current Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz –  “had been watching what was going on at Republican Square and felt it was their moral obligation and  public duty to intervene.”

“These three men, when they arrived at Republican Square, appeared to  enjoy positive rapport with the opposition groups outside the MNDF HQ and quickly  assumed leadership roles, particularly with the police. There is no suggestion that they were appointed or given specific authority,” the report states.

Regarding a statement by the international advisers in the CNI defending the commission’s professionalism and integrity, Attorney General Shukoor said that the international community may have taken Nasheed’s nominee Ahmed Saeed (Gahaa)’s claims more seriously had he submitted a dissenting opinion instead of handing in his resignation.

The attorney general alleged that Saeed was unable to do this as he did not have enough evidence to back his claims.  She said that if anyone wished to contest the findings of CNI, they were advised to file the case in court.

Ghafoor today lamented what he saw as the failings of the CNI: “It does not seem as if [the MDP’s] troubles are over. Doesn’t look as if trouble for the country as a whole is over.”


Civil Court suspends Champa’s Rf100 million fine for environmental damage, as case begins

The Civil Court has issued an injunction on the Rf100 million fine levied against local business tycoon Mohamed ‘Champa’ Moosa, by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) for illegal reclamation work on Thunbafushi, reports Haveeru.

Champa’s lawyer, former Attorney General Azima Shukoor, is contesting that the EPA violated the constitution and the Environment Protection Act by imposing a fine on him.

The EPA labelled Champa an “environmental criminal” for irreversibly damaging the island of Thun’bafushi and the marine ecosystem of Thun’bafalhu.

After three surveys of the area, the EPA assessed the damage as amounting to Rf2,230,293,566 (US$144.6 million), not including the impact of sedimentation from the dredging which can smother coral kilometres from the site.

A foreign consultant who was involved in surveying the island told Minivan News in an earlier interview that the area “seems to have been used as a dumping ground.”

“There were what looked like hundreds of used car batteries, waste metals and oil drums leeching into the marine environment,” the consultant said.


Supreme Court hears Gasim’s appeal

The Supreme Court of the Maldives has concluded  the hearing of Jumhoory Party (JP) leader and MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim’s appeal to the High Court’s ruling that his house arrest be extended.

On July 3 the High Court, in response to an appeal filed by police concerning Gasim and People’s Alliance party leader MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom, extended their house arrest to 15 days.

The Criminal Court had earlier ruled their house arrest was to be for three days.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was the Chief Judge at today’s hearing at the Supreme Court. Gasim’s legal team included former Attorney General Aishath Azima Shukoor, Leader of Dhivehi Qaumy Party and former Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed and former Justice Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel.

Senior Assistant Public Prosecutor Dheebaanaz Fahmy, Assistant Public Prosecutor, Police Inspector Ahmed Jinah were among the eight members of the police legal team.

When judge asked police who reported the case, police Inspector Ahmed Jinah replied “the president’s office.”

Shukoor said that Gasim was misled and arrested illegally in an abuse of his rights, and that therefore extension of detention would also be unlawful.

“The Criminal Court judge ruled that to keep him under house arrest for three days and that police violated many articles of the consitution,” Shukoor claimed.

“As the case has now come this far, the police have not even once denied that they abused the right on arrest given under article 48(b),” Shukoor said. “Gasim Ibrahim was taken to the police station to clarify something and then police arrested him.”

Police in their defence said that they had the power to investigate crime, conserve evidence and prepare cases for disposition by the court under article 244(C) of the constitution.

“And under circumstances police can arrest someone without a court warrant,” said the lawyer. “Police have the right to arrest someone if the arresting officer observes the offence being committed, or has reasonable and probable grounds or evidence to believe the person has committed an offence or is about to commit an offence.”

He claimed that the constitution did not preclude police from arresting a MP who is charged on a criminal offence.

“If Gasim Ibrahim was under house arrest and could attend parliament it could potentially disrupt the evidence,” he said. “We request the Chief of Justice to transfer Gasim from house arrest to police custody.”

Chief of Justice Abdulla Saeed queried the lawyer as to the seriousness of the case.

“Gasim is accused of bribery, and we need time to investigate the case in order prove it,” the police lawyer answered. “He is also accused of treason, and that affects the whole of society.”

When judge queried whether the lawyer was concerned that Gasim might flee, and he replied that it was “difficult to say.”

Meanwhile, Dr Hassan Saeed presented a list of unanswered questions by the police, and police requested the judge to give them time to research the case.

Saeed also observed that the criminal court judge had ruled that police violated many articles of the constitution in arresting Gasim.