Former President Nasheed appeals for clemency

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s lawyers have appealed to President Abdulla Yameen to reduce the 13-year jail sentence of the opposition leader.

In a letter sent to the president yesterday, lawyer Hassan Latheef noted that the clemency law gives the president the “full power and discretion” to reduce the sentence.

“The president has the discretion, on the president’s own initiative, to commute the sentence of a person convicted of a criminal offence, based on their age, health, treatment they are currently undergoing, their status and circumstance, or from a humanitarian perspective,” reads article 29(c) of the Clemency Act.

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News that the office attends to letters in accordance with procedures and declined to comment on whether President Yameen would consider the appeal.

Despite the lapse of a 10-day deadline for filing appeals, the prosecutor general and the government have insisted that Nasheed could still appeal at the High Court. President Yameen has maintained that he does not have constitutional authority to pardon convicts before the appeal process is exhausted.

Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism on March 13 over the military’s detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. The former president’s conviction drew widespread international criticism over the apparent lack of due process in the 19-day trial.

Latheef contended that Nasheed was denied the right to a fair trial as guaranteed by both domestic law and the Maldives’ obligations under international conventions.

The former human resources minister noted that foreign governments, international human rights organisations, and the UN have condemned the trial.

Amnesty International called the conviction a “travesty of justice” while the UN human rights chief said Nasheed was sentenced after a “hasty and apparently unfair trial” and noted “flagrant irregularities.”

The UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers noted “serious due process violations” such as denial of the opportunity to present defence witnesses, which led her to believe “the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.”

The European parliament in April adopted a resolution condemning the “serious irregularities” of Nasheed’s terrorism trial while US secretary of state John Kerry said during a visit to Sri Lanka that Nasheed was “imprisoned without due process”.

“This is an injustice that needs to be addressed soon,” he said.

Last week, US senators John McCain and Jack Reed urged their government to press for the release of all political prisoners in the Maldives.


Nasheed predicts he will soon be jailed

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed has predicted that he will be jailed in the upcoming weeks.

Speaking at the party’s 129th National Council sitting last night (February 10) Nasheed stated that although he will be very saddened to leave his family and worldly pleasures, he is determined to patiently bear the pain and “if necessary, even torture”.

“Nevertheless, with your permission, I would like to spend my jail days as the president of this party”, Nasheed said, requesting that the party “try and free me as soon as possible” and to “try and find a way in which I could be saved without being sentenced”.

Nasheed’s challenge of the composition of the Hulhumalé Magistrates Court bench was rejected on jurisdictional grounds on Monday (February 9), paving the way for the court to resume his trial for the January 2012 detention of Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Nasheed has described judicial proceedings as being influenced by the government, making them “unfair”, alleging that the government’s intention was to sentence him before the new Penal Code is implemented in April, 2015.

Nasheed’s legal team has subsequently submitted the case to the Civil Court, again challenging the composition of the Hulhumalé court bench. The first hearing of the case is scheduled at Civil Court today at 4pm.

In last night’s meeting held to discuss the steps that need to be taken by the MDP in defending the Constitution, Nasheed also said that more than 10 parliament members from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) are discussing switching to the opposition alliance.

The MDP and Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party (JP) signed an agreement during a mass rally last Thursday (February 5) night to “defend the spirit of the Constitution and do everything necessary to guarantee the rule of law”.

The agreement pledges to prevent the passing of any propositions in the People’s Majlis against the letter or the spirit of the Constitution, both inside and outside of the Majlis. Currently, the two parties control 34 seats in the 85-seat legislature.

The MDP National Council also decided last night to pass a motion submitted by Villimalé constituency president Mohamed Ibrahim Manik to lift the disciplinary measures preventing MPs who had violated the party’s whip line from participating in votes taken in the party’s internal bodies.

It was also decided that Anas Abdul Sattar be appointed as the party’s secretary general.

Nasheed stated that the joint parliamentary group to be formed under the MDP-JP agreement will strive towards appointing Maamigili MP Gasim to post of speaker of parliament.

Gasim’s decision to stand for the position last May prompted the end of his party’s alliance with the PPM, though the JP did not officially sever ties until late last month.

Nasheed also assured that, if and when the alliance gains the majority, the current composition of independent institutions, such as the Judicial Services Commission, will be changed.

“I will be even more active from block C of Maafushi Jail,” concluded Nasheed.

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