The Elections Commission (EC) has responded to accusations made in the ongoing trial of the case filed by Maldivian Democratic Party MP Abdulla Jabir who lost his seat in the recent parliamentary elections.
In the High Court, Jabir has requested the invalidation of the result on the grounds that he was restrained from the right to campaign, and that the ballot box kept in the island of Gaafaru was not closed on time.
Jabir has also claimed that Home Minister Umar Naseer made comments that influenced the elections by saying he would very soon establish a prison in Jabir’s constituency of Kaashidhoo, and that Jabir – currently serving a twelve month jail sentence – would be transferred to that prison.
EC lawyer and former Attorney General Husnu Suood told the court that Jabir was in prison as a result of his own actions and that there was nothing that commission could do to solve this issue.
Suood told the court that every candidate has a representative, the purpose of which was to assist the candidate in such situations, and that the commission believes Jabir lost the right to campaign when incarcerated for a failure to provide a urine sample to police.
Furthermore, Suood pointed out that the ballot box in Gaafaru was closed later than the other boxes because the box had been opened later than others on the day of voting.
According to local media, Jabir presented the names of 36 persons to support his argument in the court as well as the audio recording of Umar Naseer’s remarks on establishing a prison in Kaashidhoo.
In February, the Criminal Court sentenced Jabir to one year in prison after the court found him guilty of refusing to provide a urine sample to police after his arrest on the private island of Hondaidhoo in November 2012.
The Prosecutor General also charged Jabir for possession of cannabis before the court ruled that there was not enough evidence to find him guilty.
Jabir’s trial on alcohol possession charges – also stemming from the Hondaidhoo incident – was postponed last week after the MP was hospitalised with breathing difficulties.
In an interview with Vnews today, Jabir’s wife Dhiyana Saeed has said her husband had been in hospital since April 8, revealing that doctors asked to bring a bilevel positive airway pressure machine from Singapore.
Dhiyana also told the news outlet that doctors had informed her that Jabir’s breathing stops four times every hour.
She said that doctors had not recommended taking Jabir abroad for medical treatment, and that his medical reports were being sent directly to the Maldives Correctional Services.
Jumhoree Party (JP) Deputy Leader and MP Abdulla Jabir has challenged the legitimacy of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and his current government, alleging the country is now run by the police and military.
His wife Dhiyana Saeed, President Waheed’s Minister for Gender and Human Rights, was subsequently sacked.
At a press conference regarding the police raid of arrests of himself, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, former President’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussain Zaki and other persons on charges of consuming alcohol, Jabir strongly criticized Waheed and the current government.
“They were so violent at first I thought they were some pirates or terrorists, they didn’t have badges or identification. Only after hours of brutality did they claim to be police and tell us we were arrested under charges of drug abuse,” Jabir said.
“I kept asking why theywere acting in such a violent manner, but no one provided a reply.”
He said that they had been handcuffed for close to 12 hours before they had been transferred to the Kulhudhuhfushi court.
Jabir, who had refused to provide urine samples to the police, explained his stand: “I repeated this to the judge too. I said I’m ready to give urine, or even shave off all the hair on my head and give it to them, or even blood,but that they had to follow laws and procedures when making arrests.”
The MP in the ruling coalition party further alleged that “some persons” in the executive had lately been finding it “hard to digest statements in Majlis which were made in the public interest” and had resorted to tactics such as phone tapping. He also said that since military vehicles were involved, it was “reason enough” to believe that Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim were complicit.
Jabir said he had made a phone call to the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel right after he was released by the court.
“The Home Minister, Dr Jameel, said he had no knowledge [of the arrests]. So I have to say now that this country does not even have a home minister.”
“I am a JP MP who has supported Waheed and voted with his interests in parliament. I am also a deputy leader of JP, which is a coalition member of this government. Why did they then beat us up like this?” Jabir continued.
“Zaki nearly died. I almost died, too. I must say now the government is trying to kill off MPs.”
Speaking of the ministers, Jabir said: “No one has yet submitted a case on their cabinet posts to the courts, and the courts have not decided whether they are in their posts legitimately.”
“Even though the CNI said that this is not a coup, under what law does that CNI even qualify as a legal court?” Jabir said, questioning the legitimacy of the government – of which his own party is a coalition member.
“I see no reason why the President does not have to take the responsibility for this. That is, if there is a president. I now question whether there even is a president here. I guess the courts will provide us with an answer to that,” Jabir stated.
“I was giving Waheed my full support. But now I have been brutally beaten up for no reason at all. How can I support him after this? I can only describe the people behind this as devils disguised as humans,” he continued.
“I now see that what we have in the Maldives is a military dictatorship. We need to hold early elections as soon as possible. I will do everything I can in my capacity as a parliament member to facilitate early elections.”
“You were not even elected”: former HR Minister to President
Waheed administration’s Human Rights Minister, Dhiyana Saeed, also attended her husband Jabir’s press conference the previous day “as moral support to [her] husband who has been badly brutalised.”
She was subsequently dismissed from cabinet.
“In my career, I have always had to take the side of the police and defend their actions, although I have never found it easy to accept their brutality towards citizens,” Saeed said, adding, “But this time, I have seen too close the violence they dealt out. No one should be beaten up, regardless of what the charges for arrest are.”
Saeed then proceeded to demonstrate through role play the exact manner in which the police had brutalised her husband, acting out how and where the police had hit him.
“Police even hit Jabir on his private organs so hard that he is still bleeding. I would know, I have seen for myself,” Saeed said, sharing the doctor’s reports to support the point.
According to Saeed, she had sent a text message to Waheed upon learning of Jabir’s arrest: “I said to him that he would know very well which of the cabinet ministers have spouses who consume alcohol, and that I knew very well why Jabir was arrested. I was implying that it was politically motivated and had to do with Monday’s vote in parliament. If it honestly is about alcohol consumption, then I believe there’s a huge number of people that need to be arrested.”
“I also told him that I am very shocked to see the levels he is stooping to to hold on to his post, and said that he was not even elected by a public vote. I have quite a lot of things I can say under oath too.”
Saeed then claimed that Waheed had responded stating that he was unaware of the arrests, adding that he himself was questioning who could have done this and for what purpose. According to her, Waheed himself said that he suspected it had been done in connection to Monday’s vote, in order to create more hostility towards him among the MPs.
Dhiyana Saeed was terminated from her post as the Human Rights Minister on Monday, following her public criticism of the current administration.
Abbas quits JP over Jabir’s comments
Meanwhile, government spokesperson and council member of JP Abbas Adil Riza has quit the party today, stating as a reason that judging by the statements made by people in the party leadership, he did not like the direction the party seemed to be moving in.
“Jabir’s statements are not sentiments that I can agree with. I don’t accept that it is within my principles to stay with people who evade taxes and defame police and other people. That is why I am leaving the party,” Abbas said.
We acted professionally during the arrest: police
Police have made public their official video of the arrest on Monday. Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef denied that police had caused any physical harm to any of the arrested persons.
He however said that those who had restricted arrest had been pushed to the ground and handcuffed, adding that any damage caused through showing resistance was the responsibility of the arrested.
Haneef stated that police had followed normal procedures and acted professionally in the operation.
Abdulla Jabir and Dhiyana Saeed’s press conference: