Family Court rules baby cannot be separated from German mother

The Family Court has ruled that the baby of Ahmed Sharuan and Tanja Sharuan cannot be separated from the mother.

The verdict last week however stated that the court cannot rule on child custody as the couple is still legally married.

In March 2014, Ahmed Sharuan was accused by his wife Tanja Sharuan of abducting the couple’s baby from her home in Zurich.

The Family Court subsequently released an injunction ordering the father to return the child to the mother. Sharuan appealed the decision at the High Court.

However, the High Court upheld the decision of the Family Court on March 20, and on March 24 Sharuan returned the baby to the mother in the presence of police.

Tanja also launched an Aavaaz petition at the time, seeking support for her cause while claiming that Sharuan was accusing her of attempting to raise the child as a non-Muslim despite her conversion to Islam.


High Court decides to hold closed hearings on appeal case against Family Court ruling

The High Court has today decided to hold closed hearings in the appeal case against the Family Court hearings asking Ahmed Sharuan from Kanmatheege in Seenu Atoll Maradhoo to return his five month baby to the mother.

While the Constitution’s Article 42 (b) states that court hearings must be open to public, courts of law are allowed to hold closed hearings under special circumstances as seen fit by the judges.

Family Court previously ordered Sharuan to return the baby to the mother, and on his failure to comply, ordered police to search for him.

The search has since been called off following the High Court releasing a temporary injunction asking to halt implementation of the Family Court order.


Nasheed released from custody, travel ban still in place

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has been released from custody following the first hearing in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court concerning his detention of Chief Criminal Court Judge, Abdulla Mohamed.

The trial began around 4:20pm this afternoon. The court was packed with attendees, most of whom were Nasheed supporters. Nasheed’s wife Laila Ali and family members were also present.

At the beginning of the trial, the state read the charges.

Responding, Nasheed stated that the trial reflected the “grave” situation that the democracy of the Maldives is in.

“Honorable judges, this charge against me is a deliberate attempt by the prosecutor general to bar the presidential candidate of the largest opposition political party of this country from contesting the next presidential elections,” Nasheed declared.

“The Maldivian constitution explicitly states that the powers of the state derives only from the people and there is no stronger power than that of the power of the people. That power of the people will only be restored through free and fair elections,” he said.

“Honorable Judges, I sincerely ask of you to consider this fact before you proceed with the trial. My lawyers will continue advocating on behalf or me from now on,” he said.

Former President’s member on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and outspoken whistleblower Aishath Velezinee has maintained that Nasheed’s detention of the judge was justified given the failure of both the JSC and parliament to hold the judge accountable for allegations of serious ethical misconduct.

Lawyers take over

On her opportunity to speak, Nasheed’s lawyer Hisaan Hussain raised procedural irregularities concerning the case that was being heard.

Firstly, she questioned the judges as to whether a magistrate court could hold a trial on an island other than the island on which the magistrate court was established – despite the case been filed in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court, the hearing was held in the Justice Building in Male’.

Hisaan also asked the court to decide on the claim that the magistrate court was formed in contradiction with the Constitution and the laws of the country, before it proceeded with the hearings. The matter is currently being considered by the Supreme Court.

Member of Nasheed’s legal team, Abdulla Shair, also raised a point on procedural irregularities citing that the magistrate court’s order to detain Nasheed was unlawful because such orders should legally only come from a court set up in the locality of the defendant’s permanent address. Nasheed is based in his family home in Male’.

Shair challenged that it should be the Criminal Court ordering nasheed’s detention, as Nasheed’s permanent address was located in capital Male’.

The lawyers asked the court to temporarily suspend the hearings until it had resolved the procedural irregularities. However, court rejected the proposition.

Responding to the procedural issues raised, the court rejected all but one of the issues raised without giving any reasoning.

The court however responded to Nasheed’s lawyer Abdulla Shair’s point of procedure, and stated that the court followed a precedent set by the High Court.

Responding, the state challenged that no lawful authority of the country had decided that Hulhumale’ Court was legitimate, and it was within the power of the prosecutor general to file charges in a court with relevant jurisdiction.

The state presented more than 32 pieces of evidences it claimed proved that Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed was detained unlawfully, including the judge himself.

Other evidence produced included audio and video of the Judge’s detention, and speeches given by Nasheed.

The State also presented an evidence list of figures from both Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Maldives Police Services (MPS).

In response to the presented evidences, Nasheed’s lawyers asked the three member panel of Judges to give them a time period of 30 days to study the evidences and prepare a defence.

The judges however gave a period of 25 days. They announced that the next hearing would be held on November 4, 2012.

Supporters of Nasheed cheered when he came out of the hearing. With Nasheed’s detention order expired following his attending of the hearing, Nasheed is technically free.

However, the previously imposed travel ban is still in place and Nasheed is confined to Male’.


MDP detainees on hunger strike in response to alleged “police brutality”

Six Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters arrested for allegedly throwing stones at the motorcade of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s motorcade while he was visiting Addu City have declared themselves on hunger strike as of yesterday afternoon.

In a statement, the MDP said that the six supporters, which include elected Addu City Councilor Ahmed Mirzadh, as well as his father and brother, began the strike yesterday at 4:00pm after being detained on suspicion of throwing stones at the former president and present head of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

An MDP statement claimed that the detained supporters had launched the hunger strike in protest at allegations of police torture whilst in custody.

Abdulla Haseen, Lawyer of Councilor Mirzad said his client was detained for allegedly throwing stones at former President Gayoom’s motorcade, adding that he was very worried about the arrest.

‘’He’s an elected councilor. He is not a violent criminal. He’s a very responsible man,” Haseen said adding that the court has granted an extension of his detention period to ten days.

Police have meanwhile confirmed that the detained MDP supporters were on a hunger strike.

Police Sub-Inspector Hasssan Haneef has said that although the detainees have declared themselves on hunger strike, authorities had been providing them food as scheduled.

Meanwhle, Addu City Council has issued a statement calling for the immediate release of the arrested councillor.

The statement alleged that the motive behind the arrest was to “narrow” the powers of the Addu City Council, which also condemned the brutality of the “coup government” of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Since February’s transfer of power, the MDP and former President Mohamed Nasheed have continued to allege that the previous government was removed from office in a “coup” by mutinous elements of the police and military, along with then opposition politicians.

The council also claimed that the current government was envious of Addu City Council, alleging that all the development projects launched by Mohamed Nasheed’s government have been stopped under the present administration.

Yesterday, Police Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz said that a total of 181 persons have been arrested so far in ongoing protests during the last week.  A total of 21 persons are still said to be in police custody after being detained during the protests, which have at times escalated into violent confrontations.

Nawaz alleged that MDP supporters have been conducting criminal activities in the protests, including attacking police officers and vandalizing the property of civilians.

He alleged that protesters have been attacking police officers and using foul language against riot police.  Nawaz conversely denied that police have attacked or used foul language against anti-government protesters during more than seven days of consecutive demonstrations.


Five in custody as anti-government protests continue in Male’

Police have said an anti-government protest held last night by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters was comparatively calmer compared to demonstrations witnessed on Sunday (July 15), as its officers continue to exercise “minimum force” to contain crowds.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that eight arrests had been made during last night’s demonstrations, with five of those detained still remaining in custody as of this afternoon.

However, the now opposition MDP has alleged that its supporters continue to be the victims of police brutality, accusing the country’s law enforcement officials of “lying” about the conduct of demonstrators and the alleged discovery of several “syringes of acid” this week.

The MDP has held a week of consecutive daily demonstrations centred around Chaandhanee Magu in Male’ against what its supporters claim is the “illegitimate government” of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

While the opposition party contends that the protests this week have been “largely peaceful”, the ongoing demonstrations have at times broken out into violent clashes. This violence has led to allegations of police brutality against demonstrators, and counter claims of protesters attacking reporters and security forces.

Thousands of protesters were observed early yesterday evening by Minivan News attending the night’s demonstrations early, though this number had declined to a few hundred by around midnight. The protests eventually ended by about 4:00am this morning, according to police.

Crowd control

Sub-Inspector Haneef said that police officers had continued throughout the week to amend their crowd control tactics on a daily basis as needed. He declined to speculate on how demonstrators may have been adapting their own approach during the consecutive nightly protests that began earlier this month.

According to Haneef, an individual was last night taken from the crowd with what appeared to be stab wounds to his stomach. He adding that investigations were now continuing into the incident.

Haneef also confirmed that officers had discovered a package during the last two days said to contain vials of a substance later found to be an unknown concentration of sulphuric acid.  “We are now waiting on the final report to clarify the concentration of the acid,” he said.

However, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy today hit out at police claims that they had been employing “minimum force” during the week, alleging that peaceful protesters last night continued to be harassed and, in some cases, arbitrarily arrested.

“Every protest so far is peaceful, we have seen police coming through the barricades to snatch people from the crowd in intimidation,” he said.

In recent days, Minivan News observed isolated incidents of half-filled water bottles and shoes being thrown from crowds gathered near temporary barriers set up by police.

Fahmy contended that the protests were themselves “largely peaceful”, with protesters exercising their right to demonstrate against a police force it claims had a direct role in the controversial transfer of power in February.

The MDP and former President Mohamed Nasheed have alleged that the government of President Waheed had been brought to power in a “coup d’etat”, sponsored by mutinous sections of police and military as well as opposition politicians now aligned with the coalition government.

Fahmy claimed the MDP continued to doubt the legitimacy and tactics of national security forces as a result.

“We simply cannot trust anything the police say. This is the same police that brought about the coup and also falsely arrest people,” he alleged. “People flocked in their thousands yesterday to march from [an MDP protest site at] the usfasgandu area of Male’ to Chaandhanee Magu.”

When asked about reports of police discovering syringes of sulphuric acid and “plastic bags filled with chilli powder mixed with water” during this week’s protests, Fahmy accused police of fabricating the  stories and evidence to defame protesters.

“They are always coming up with such stories. They have been lying about incidents during the protests,” he claimed. “We have raised concerns about video footage clearly showing [former] President Nasheed being pepper sprayed. They have denied using pepper spray at the protests. This video evidence contradicts statements they have made.”

Sub-Inspector Haneef responded that police had admitted to using pepper spray during the ongoing protests in certain circumstances . When asked to clarify the official protocols for using pepper spray against crowds, the police spokesperson referred Minivan News to an official statement released earlier today.


Controversial blogger and “prisoner of conscience” released from custody

Ismail ‘Khilath’ Rasheed was released from police custody last night, where he had been held since December 14 without charges while police investigated his role in a peacefully-intended protest held on December 10.

Police confirmed that Rasheed was released on a court order, and said that the investigation into his involvement in a silent peaceful protest on December 10 had been concluded with no findings against him.

Rasheed was arrested on December 14 for his involvement in a protest for religious tolerance held at Male’s Artificial Beach on International Human Rights Day. The group of approximately 30 protestors were attacked with stones, and Rasheed was taken to the hospital with head injuries.

Rasheed’s detention was twice extended by the court, which subsequently launched an investigation into the contents of his controversial blog which was previously blocked by the Islamic Ministry on the grounds that it contained anti-Islamic content.

After Rasheed’s detention was extended a second time on December 27, Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari requested parliament’s National Security Committee to include a clear, strong punishment for those advocating religious freedom within the Maldives in the new Penal Code currently at committee stage.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International declared Rasheed a prisoner of conscience, and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) challenged Bari’s argument that calling for freedom of religious was unconstitutional within a democratic Muslim society.

“The Maldivian constitution bans the promotion of any religion other than Islam but guarantees freedom of assembly and expression as long as it does not contravene Islam. Rasheed professes to be an adherent of Sufism, which emphasises the inner, spiritual dimension of Islam,” read the statement by RSF.

Minivan News was unable to reach Rasheed at time of press.


17 year-old claims he was beaten by 22 police officers behind stadium

Police are investigating reports of a person being beaten in police custody, after a 17 year-old boy told Minivan News he was arbitrarily arrested on Boduthakurufaanu Magu on Saturday night before being driven in a police vehicle to a dark spot near Male’s artificial beach where he was violently beaten by officers with batons.

The 17 year-old told Minivan News that he had been on the phone in front of a police officer’s house earlier that day, before the officer came out of the building and confronted him.

“I did not answer him and asked him to wait, as I was on the phone,” he said. “Later that night, while I was on Boduthakurufaanu Magu near the ‘Ekuveni Stadium’ in Galolhu, I saw police officers searching for me with a picture of me in their hands.”

As soon as he neared the stadium, all the police officers jumped on him and locked him inside police vehicle, he claimed.

”They said I had tried to attack a police officer by waiting near his house, and said I was not to threaten the police. They took me near artificial beach,” he said.

”It was around midnight when we reached the beach. All of the officers got out of the police bus and took me to a dark area near ”Andhiri Stage” [literally ‘Dark Stage’- a stage formally used to perform music shows but now unused].

The 17 year-old said the squad, consisting of “around 22″ police officers then started beating him simultaneously with their batons.

”They kept saying that it was what someone would get for trying to attack police,” he explained. ”They kept beating me until they received an urgent call to attend a fight that was occurring near Bandeyrikoshi, so they took me with them to the crime scene in the police bus.”

He said that one of the groups involved in the fighting had fled before the police arrived, but that the other group attacked police while he was kept inside the vehicle.

”They arrested some of the boys and drove to drop them off to police custodial,” he said. ”They were planning to drop them off and take me back to the artificial beach to beat me again.”

However, when the bus reached police custodial, the 17 year-old said he jumped out of the bus and ran inside the building, where he begged for help from a Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) officer who was on duty at the time.

”He told me to stay inside the interview room, then went outside and shouted at the police officers who had attacked me and told them that they couldn’t touch me again,” he said.

The boy said he went to meet President Mohamed Nasheed last night during the launch of a campaign office for an MDP candidate ahead of the local council elections, and told him what had happened to him.

”He was shocked to hear what the police officers told me inside the vehicle – they said they would make the people turn  against ‘Anni’ (the President’s nickname) and would make citizens run after him with swords,” the boy alleged.

The boy said he had attended hospital for treatment and an X-ray of his injuries, where doctors discovered his spine had suffered internal injuries.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that police had received reports of a person who was tortured while in police custody, and were now investigating the incident.


19 year-old alleges torture in police custody

A 19 year-old has alleged that he was arbitrarily arrested near his home on Monday night and tortured in police custody.

Ali Shuaib, 19, showed Minivan News bruises and swelling on his leg, hand and nose.

“Police arrested me while I was waiting near my house to have a chat with my friend,’’ he explained. “While waiting there, before the police squad arrived, we saw a group of people fleeing; we did not knew what was going on and we did not pay much attention.’’

Shuaib claimed a squad of police officers arrived after a short while and told him not to move.

“Unaware of the situation, I stayed calm, they came and checked me, told me I was clear and had nothing with me,’’ he said. “But they said their superiors had ordered them to detain me for 23 hours and they handcuffed me and took me to Galolhu Police Station first.’’

At the Galolhu Police Station, he continued, police officers filled his detention form and transferred him to the ‘Atholhuvehi’ custodial in Male’.

‘’While I was there, a police lance corporal came and asked ‘what the hell I was doing there’. His voice was aggressive and he spoke rudely,’’ he claimed. “I told him it was none of his business because police custodial is not his property.’’

After some verbal sparring, Shuaib claimed that the police officer hit him in the face.

“I hit back and fought in my defence,” he said. “A while later the whole duty shift came and attacked me, they hit me in the chest and back with their ankles, hit my foot with a tin trash can.

“Then when I was almost unconscious they put me in solitary confinement, handcuffed in a cross position with both hands and feet locked together. They even stepped on my back and pressed hard while I was kept in that position.”

The next duty shift came in after about two hours, he continued, and removed the handcuffs and transferred Shuaib to another cell after offering him water and medication.

“When I was released from the handcuffs I could hardly breathe; the next duty shift came and gave me water and poured water on my head and kept me on a chair till I felt better,’’ he said.

Shuaib was released without being presented to court.

“It is very common now, police arrest any person they wish and keep them in custody for 23 hours,” he claimed.

According to the Constitution of the Maldives, any person detained should be presented to court within 24 hours of arrest.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News today that if such a case was filed with the police, “police will investigate the case applying professional standards and take necessary action.’’

Shiyam said if Shuaib was not confident with the police he could file the case with the Police Integrity Commission. No case had been lodged, he said.

Shuaib was recently arrested on suspicion of crimes including murder, robbery and assault, but was released without charge.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that custodial torture is “strictly prohibited” by the president.

“It is not something that should happen, and there are many ways [Shuaib] could pursue the case,” Zuhair said. “He could file the case at the Human Rights Commission, and Police Integrity Commission, and the case would be investigated.’’

On July 15, police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) arrested almost 60 people, including minors, in a joint special operation to curb escalating gang violence in the capital.

Many of those who were arrested  in the special operation alleged that they were mistreated and abused during their arrest and detention.


Yameen’s ‘protective custody’ was unconstitutional, rules Civil Court

The Civil Court of the Maldives has ruled that the government’s detention of Abdulla Yameen, People’s Alliance (PA) and half-brother of former President Gayoom, was unconstitutional.

The PA is a minor opposition party which in coalition with the major Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has a parliamentary majority. The government has accused Yameen of bribery and treason, however following his arrest in June the Supreme Court refused to extend the period of his detention.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) held Yameen in isolation on the presidential retreat of ‘Aarah’ for nine days, releasing him on July 23. The government and the MNDF claimed Yameen’s detention was “for his own protection” after several groups of protesters clashed with police outside the MP’s house.

In July the MNDF took Yameen into protective custody after a group of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters gathered near his house and threw stones and water bottles.

MNDF claimed that Yameen was kept in isolation for his own safety and that he requested MNDF provide him security. However Yameen claimed he was taken by MNDF against his will.

In his verdict, Sameer noted that MNDF did not had the power to detain Yameen in Aarah for his protection under the MNDF law, article number 105 [b] and 243 of the constitution.

Chief Judge of the Civil Court Ali Sameer further ruled that the MNDF did not have the authority to restrict Yameen’s rights and freedoms, as guaranteed under the constitution.

Sameer declared that MNDF violated articles 41, 19, 21, 26, 30, 37, 45 and 46 of the constitution.

Any freedom and right guaranteed by the constitution could only be restricted according to a law enacted under article 16 of the constitution, or following the declaration of a state of emergency, Sameer said.

He added that it was a responsibility of all state institutions to uphold freedoms and rights mentioned in the constitution.