Deputy PG seeks Supreme Court assistance in Criminal Court dispute

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem has written to the Supreme Court regarding a decision made by the Criminal Court to halt all pending cases until a new prosecutor general is appointed.

Shameem said that the letter was sent last week but that the Supreme Court had not responded to it.

“It was a complaint letter we sent because the Supreme Court had previously ordered the Criminal Court to continue its functions as normal,’’ he said. “But the Criminal Court had not implemented the order, and is refusing to accept new cases.’’

According to Shameem, the Criminal Court’s decision was appealed at the High Court but the court’s registrar decided not to accept the appeal, asking the High Court’s Judges panel to review the decision.

Shameem reported that, thus far, no progress had been made on the issue.

He said that there were more than 150 cases pending in the Prosecutor General’s Office which are to be sent to the Criminal Court, some of the cases concerning people held in pre-trial detention until their case is concluded.

Shameem said that he was expecting a response from the Supreme Court before this week ends.

“If they do not respond by then, then we will have to look for other ways to solve this issue,” he added.

On November 25, former Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muiz submitted his resignation, shortly before parliament was set to debate a no-confidence motion against him.

On January 8, the Criminal Court decided not to accept any cases submitted by the PG’s Office and to halt all existing cases because the position of PG has been vacant for over 30 days

At the time, Shameem said that the laws did not prohibit the Deputy PG from taking over the responsibilities of the PG in a case where a new person is not appointed within 30 days.

He also expressed concern that there were people held in pre-trial detention who are to be kept there until their trials were concluded.

“So what do they do now, it would not be fair to keep them in there until the parliament comes back to work from recess after three months and appoint a new PG,’’ Shameem said.

On December 10, President Abdulla Yameen proposed his nephew Maumoon Hameed for the post of Prosecutor General and submitted the name to the parliament for the MPs to approve.

The issue was sent to parliament’s independent commissions committee and the committee decided to seek public opinion before sending his name to the parliament floor for voting.

However, the parliament is now on recess and will not re-commence work until March.

On January 9, the Supreme Court had ordered the Criminal Court to continue pending trials in the court.

The Supreme Court said it had told the Criminal Court that the criminal justice system must proceed in order to maintain constitutional rule.


Police send case against DRP MP Ali Waheed to Prosecutor General

Police have sent several cases involving  Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Vice President and MP Ali Waheed to the Prosecutor General’s office.

Deputy Prosecutor General Ahmed Shameem confirmed the office had received several criminal cases concerning Waheed, and would decide in a week whether to take the cases to court.

“There is a process in the Constitution [that if a MP is found guilty of a criminal offence] it is punishable by 12 months in prison. He would be automatically removed from Parliament,” Shameem said.

Police Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said one of the cases concerned Waheed’s claims that police helped protesters during a disturbance outside the president’s residence and MNDF headquarters in January.

He said other cases against Waheed would also be sent to the PG as soon as the police finished their investigations.

Meanwhile Waheed said he was “very confident” that he had not done anything against the law.

”It’s all President Mohamed Nasheed’s doings,” Waheed claimed. ”He is afraid of me.”

He added that he hoped the cases would be sent to the courts as soon as possible.

”They take me to police custody like a medicine they take twice daily,” he said, ”so its difficult to identify which cases they have sent to PG. Ask President Nasheed – I have no idea.”

He maintained that the police decision to detain DRP leaders in during last Thursday’s protests was “politically motivated.”

”That night when they took me Dhoonidhoo I was not doing anything,” he said. ”I was trying to protect our people from being attacked by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)  activists and I was standing in front of DRP office as I am a leader of the party.”


Clemency Board invites prisoners to apply

The Clemency Board has begun its work today and the President’s Office has started sending out forms for prisoners to apply for clemency under the new Clemency Law.

The law was passed by Parliament on their last session of 2009. It gives President Mohamed Nasheed the power to grant pardons and commute sentences for prisoners.

It also allows the president to reduce sentences, as well as grant life sentences where death sentences had been previously issued.

The Bill specifies crimes that will not be eligible for pardon, such as murder, terrorism, sexual abuse of children, rape, drug trafficking, offences against Islam, and homosexuality.

According to the government, the Bill is meant to help those prisoners who did not get a fair trial, were wrongfully convicted or were convicted solely on the basis of extracted confessions.

Prisoners must pass two requirements to apply for clemency. They must show they have exhausted all other avenues of appeal, and must have completed at least one third of their original sentence.

It had been previously reported that criminal records of those convicted under the old Constitution would be wiped clean if they were pardoned, but Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said that was not the case.

“There are many provisions for such matters as criminal offences and criminal records, but their records would not be wiped clean.”

“We began issuing forms today to multiple centres around Malé and they are also being sent to Island Offices,” Zuhair said.

He believes implementing the Clemency Board is a good move for the government, as “there are many pending appeals” from prisoners. “There are nearly 2,000 prisoners in the country right now,” Zuhair said.

He added that although “outrage and accusations” about the reasons for the implementation of the board will probably come, “the president is very clear on this issue and has been working on it for a long time.”

On 9 March 2010 President Nasheed appointed the members of the Clemency Board, who are to advise the president regarding the release of prisoners or commuting of sentences.

The Board is chaired by Attorney General Husnu Suood. The other members are Mariyam Suzee Adam (social sector), Nazil Afeef (legal sector), Shifa Mohamed (education sector), Dr Ahmed Razee (health sector), Sh. Mohamed Farooq (religious scholar), Maizaan Ali Maniku (civil society), Ahmed Adil (Parole Board), Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mohamed Sodiq, Ahmed Mahloof (legislature) and Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem.

President of the Board Husnu Suood said this law has been passed in accordance with the Constitution and believed the government “has moved a step forward.”

“Under the Constitution there is clemency, and there must be a provision for the president to implement this.”

Suood said under the previous Constitution this power was not implemented often, and when it was, it was usually abused.

“This will not be exercised as a political tool,” Suood assured.

He also hoped people would not see it as the government ‘releasing’ criminals, as there were established criteria under which the law can be applied.

Suood explained the president cannot give pardons for the seven specified categories but he can commute death sentences to life imprisonment.

Deputy PG Hussain Shameem said he thinks the board is a good start, but will “only work with other support systems, such as psychological and social services and a proper prison system.”

Shameem said the Clemency Law is “very tricky, the way it’s drafted,” as it “gives a lot of loopholes.”

For instance, Shameem said, the president can make the ultimate decision on pardons regarding the seven categories which are technically not eligible for pardon.

“There are some contradictions,” he said, but he believes people have to “take it positively.”

Before the Clemency Law, he said “many prisoners did not see the end of the tunnel.”

Under the new law, he believes “if prisoners have faith in the system, and they know they could get out early on good behaviour, they will behave.”

He said the law was open to anyone who had successfully completed one third of their sentence, excluding those convicted for the seven specified crimes.

Shameem added he did not believe “there are people who were wrongfully convicted” in the prison system.