Jailed MP Jabir denied fair trial, says legal team

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The trial and sentencing of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdulla Jabir “was in violation of several procedural and factual formalities accorded in the Constitution and statutes of the Maldives,” the MP’s legal representatives have stated.

The Kaashidhoo constituency MP was last week sentenced to twelve months imprisonment after being found guilty of failing to provide a urine sample when arrested as a suspect in a drug related case on November 16, 2012. He is currently in Maafushi jail.

“The number of procedural violations in the whole criminal justice process in regard to this case is highly concerning and we believe that Hon. Abdullah Jabir was denied the fundamental rights that constitutes a free and fair hearing guaranteed to him by Article 42 of the Constitution,” read a press release from Aequitas Legal Consultants.

Additionally, Hassan Latheef – a member of Jabir’s legal team – has told Minivan News today that the court has failed to provide mandatory documents summarising the case, necessary for a High Court appeal.

“At this moment, we’re concerned that he can’t appeal. We were unable to submit the report to the High Court, but today we have sent a letter saying that the court is still refusing,” said Latheef.

He noted that a previous High Court judgement stipulated that the appeals registration process could still proceed as soon as the case was filed – Latheef revealed that the case had been submitted yesterday.

When contacted for a response, Criminal Court officials were unwilling to provide further information on Jabir’s case.

Latheef’s legal firm suggested that Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaz Muhusin had failed to consider procedural issues raised by Jabir’s defence, thereby failing to observe the principles of natural justice.

The statement also suggested that the Jabir’s constitutional rights to adequate time and facilities for his defence – also guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – were not met.

Jabir’s legal representatives noted that the police’s mistreatment of the MP at the time of arrest had been confirmed by the Police Integrity Commission but had not been taken into account by the judge.

After investigating the case – which involved medical records showing injuries sustained by Jabir as well as a video of one officer kicking the MP in the head – the PIC said it could not forward the case to the Prosecutor General as the identity of the officer could not be determined.

During the trial, Jabir had claimed testimony given against him by arresting officers was inadmissible, alleging that the officers in question had been responsible for his mistreatment.

“Based on the serious factual and procedural violations in the trial and sentencing of MP Hon. Abdullah Jabir, who is not only an individual but a representative of five thousand Maldivians at the Parliament, it is regrettable that the Judicial process that we are to respect and obey has shown such a blatant disregard for the principles of justice and the rule of law,” concluded the statement.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody on November 16, 2012, after police raided and searched Hondaidhoo with a court warrant. Officers alleged they found large amounts of suspected drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.

Jabir was set to re-contest his Kaashidhoo constituency seat in next month’s Majlis elections. Fellow MDP MP and MDP International Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – also detained and charged with failure to produce a urine test during the same incident -told Minivan News today that Jabir was currently being held in custody.

Asked whether Jabir’s sentence would affect his ability to stand, Hamid said that he believed the law made it clear that an MP could not be disqualified from the Majlis unless they were serving more than twelve months.

“The law is silent on whether he can campaign or not,” added Hamid.