Foreign minister ‘misled’ UN on Nasheed trial

The office of former president Mohamed Nasheed has accused foreign minister Dunya Maumoon of “deliberately misleading” the UN Human Rights Council regarding the opposition leader’s terrorism trial.

During the Maldives’ Universal Period Review in Geneva on May 6, Dunya claimed that Nasheed chose not to appeal his 13-year sentence and that due process concerns regarding the trial were procedural and not substantive.

Criticism of Nasheed’s trial had “mainly focused on the process and not the merits,” she said.

But Nasheed’s office contends he was deliberately denied the right to appeal after the criminal court failed to provide necessary documentation within the ten day appeal period specified by the Supreme Court.

“The Maldives’ criminal court refused to release the transcript of the trial — information vital to the launch of an appeal — until 11 days after conviction, thus deliberately preventing Nasheed’s legal team from appealing,” reads a statement released yesterday.

It added that Nasheed’s lawyers informed the court of their intent to appeal four days after the conviction on March 13.

“The lawyers repeatedly asked the criminal court for the trial transcript, but the court refused to release it until the window for appeal had closed. When the transcript was finally released, it had been doctored and was full of irregularities,” the statement continued.

President Abdulla Yameen and other senior government officials have repeatedly advised Nasheed to appeal. Prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin told Minivan News last week that the High Court could accept an appeal despite the expiration of the 10-day period.

“I personally think this case has a high possibility of being accepted at the high court since Nasheed is a former president, since it is related to a judge and since it is a terrorism charge,” he said.

But Nasheed’s lawyers say the Supreme Court, in the same ruling that had shortened the 90 day appeal period to ten days, had removed the High Court’s discretionary powers.

The apex court in January had voided Article 42  of the Judicature Act which set out appeal deadlines and gave judges discretionary powers in accepting late appeals. The 90–180 day appeal period obstructed justice, the Supreme Court said. A new 10-day appeal period was set out, but the apex court was silent on procedures for late appeals.

Nasheed’s lawyer, Hisaan Hussain, told the press today there was no “legal basis” for the government’s stance.

She suggested the government was encouraging Nasheed to appeal because it could determine the outcome through its undue influence over the judiciary.

“The government is saying in the same breath that it does not meddle in court cases but that there is still the opportunity to appeal despite the 10-day period elapsing,” she said.

Nasheed wanted to appeal, but was effectively deprived of the right to appeal due to the criminal court’s “deliberate” refusal to release the transcripts until the 11th day after sentencing, she said.

The legal team reiterated calls for president Yameen to exercise powers under clemency laws to pardon and release Nasheed.

Lawyer Hassan Latheef claimed 10 countries had called for Nasheed’s release during the UPR session, warning that the Maldives could face international sanctions if the government does not comply.

Nasheed was found guilty on terrorism charges relating to the detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Amnesty 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 special rapporteur 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 meanwhile adopted a resolution condemning the “serious irregularities” of the 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.


Government will ensure Nasheed’s right to appeal conviction, says spokesperson

The government will ensure former President Mohamed Nasheed’s right to appeal his conviction on terrorism charges if he believes the Criminal Court did not follow due process, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has said.

The opposition leader was sentenced to 13 years in jail last night for ordering the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.

“I believe the Criminal Court would have afforded due process in the conduct of Nasheed’s trial. If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz said.

“Nasheed can still appeal at High Court.”

The government has no power over the courts, he added.

“We have a system of separation of powers. In a democracy, the head of state does not interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,” Muaz said.

“Political leaders in other countries, such as Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, have been summoned and tried in court as well.”

Delivering the guilty verdict last night, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed as commander-in-chief ordered the arrest or “forceful abduction” of Judge Abdulla.

Reacting to Nasheed’s conviction, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP “Ibu” Mohamed Solih said today the party would not be disheartened by President Abdulla Yameen’s alleged attempts to imprison his opponents.

“President Yameen is trying to jail his opponents before the next election. But even though Nasheed is convicted he still is the leader of MDP and he will contest in the 2018 presidential elections,” Ibu said on opposition-aligned Raajje TV.

However, Muaz denied that the president wished to prevent political rivals from contesting the 2018 election.

“President Yameen does not want to jail opposition politicians or plunge the country into civil unrest. He has an economic agenda. We respect the court’s verdict.”

Addressing the party’s supporters alongside the parliamentary group leader on Raajje TV, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed meanwhile said the party would do everything in its power to free Nasheed.

“Our main work from now on will be to free President Nasheed. He will come back. So meanwhile stay united, don’t lose hope and pray for him,” Waheed said.

Following Nasheed’s arrest on February 22, MDP supporters have protested every night calling for his release.

Muaz said the government would allow the public to peacefully express their views, but stressed that protests should take place within bounds of the law.

“But we will not allow unrest in the country. Our aim is to establish peace and order in the country. We welcome freedom of expression and assembly, but they must be practiced within the bounds of the constitution. Our appeal to the public is not to disrupt public order,” he said.


Nasheed was charged with “enforced disappearance” under the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1990, which carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.

Prior to a hearing on March 9, all four of Nasheed’s lawyers quit in protest of the Criminal Court’s refusal to grant sufficient time to examine the prosecution’s evidence and mount a defence.

The presiding judges had denied the lawyers’ request for adequate time, stating the legal team has had the case documents for three years.

Nasheed was first charged in 2012 with arbitrary detention under article 81 of the penal code, which carries either banishment or a jail term of up to three years.

On February 15, Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin withdrew the charges filed at the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court. Nasheed was arrested on February 22 shortly after the PG filed terrorism charges at the Criminal Court.

Meanwhile prominent figures from both the international community and within the country have condemned the Criminal Courts verdict.

Husnu Suood, former judge and Attorney General – who was also a senior member of the team which drafted the anti-terrorism law in 1990 – tweeted: “Mohamed Nasheed is not a terrorist. Whatever act he did was certainly not terrorism. The charge not suitable, the trial was flawed.”

Deputy Attorney General Ahmed Usham also questioned Criminal Courts decision to jail Nasheed.

“Infringing the rights of one person in the name of giving justice to another person is in itself an injustice,” Usham wrote on his Facebook page.

MP Ahmed Mahloof, who was expelled from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) recently after he criticized President Yameen, tweeted: “21 days for Judge Abdulla, 4745 days for President Nasheed. Is this what they call justice? Why not jail all opposition leaders and rule the country.”

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla – who played a pivotal role in the 2012 protests against Nasheed’s administration – tweeted: “Nasheed’s trial was not conducted justly.”


Related to this story

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

Nasheed trial “not free or fair,” says Maldivian Democracy Network

Foreigners cannot meddle in domestic affairs, declares President Yameen

PPM accuses international community of “double standards and hypocrisy” in Nasheed’s trial

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court


High Court overturns Criminal Court’s July 2010 suspension of senior police officers

The High Court on Tuesday overturned the Criminal Court’s suspension of two senior police officers in July 2010, ruling that Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s decision to bar Superintendent Mohamed Jinah and Inspector Mohamed Riyaz from the court for six months was unlawful.

The pair was suspended after they appeared in court over the detention of then-opposition MPs Abdulla Yameen, Ahmed Nazim and Gasim Ibrahim on charges of bribery and treason.

The suspension for alleged contempt of court was appealed at the High Court by the Attorney General’s Office on July 21, 2010.

Police meanwhile filed a complaint against the chief judge at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) alleging “obstruction of high-profile corruption cases.”

The JSC has however not completed an investigation of the complaint to date. The case is among 168 complaints that the commission has yet to conclude as of December 2011, according to the JSC annual report for 2011 (Dhivehi).

In January 2012, the JSC revealed that there were 11 complaints filed at the commission against Judge Abdulla Mohamed, including allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

Procedural fairness

In its judgment on Tuesday (Dhivehi) – more than two years after the case was registered – the High Court ruled that the administrative action against Jinah and Riyaz was neither procedurally fair nor in accordance with regulations on holding persons in contempt of court.

A police media official told Minivan News at the time that court had “sent a letter signed by the Chief Judge of the court to Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh. The letter did not mention any specific reason [for the suspensions], only ‘ethical grounds’.”

The High Court noted that the Criminal Court did not reply to a letter from the Maldives Police Service – sent two days after receiving the letter from the Criminal Court on July 11 informing the Police Commissioner of the suspension – seeking clarification concerning the unprecedented action.

Police had asked the court to clarify the date the hearing in question took place, the nature of the contempt allegedly exhibited by the pair or the alleged violation of ethical codes, whether it had taken place outside the hearing and whether the police officers were given any warning prior to the administrative action.

While article 43 of the constitution guarantees the right to “administrative action that is lawful, procedurally fair and expeditious,” the High Court noted that due process was not followed by the Criminal Court as the officers were not informed either of the reasons for the action or “the date of the incident”.

The High Court ruling also referred to article 68 of the constitution, which states, “When interpreting and applying the rights and freedoms contained within this Chapter, a court or tribunal shall promote the values that underlie an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom, and shall consider international treaties to which the Maldives is a party.”

“Obstruction of investigations”

Appearing on state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) on July 17, 2010, then-Deputy Commissioner of Police Ismail Atheef explained that Jinah and Riyaz had appeared in court on July 9.

However, the letter from Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed informing police of the suspension was received two days later on July 11.

“If someone is in contempt of the court, action has to be taken immediately according to provision five of the court regulations,” he noted.

Atheef added that the detectives were not given any warning nor had their conduct in court been noted by the journalists who were present.

“So when this letter came to us, the way police interpret it is that this is an obstruction specifically of our investigation,” he claimed.

It was the first time that police officers were suspended from the Criminal Court, Atheef said.

The former Deputy Commissioner contended that the suspension was a deliberate obstruction because Riyaz and Jinah, as the two lead detectives and top police lawyers, would have had to appear at court to seek an extension for MP Nazim’s detention.

Meanwhile, Jinah was among a number of senior officers assaulted by mutinying police inside the police headquarters before the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.

Following the police mutiny at the Republic Square and violent clashes with military officers, Jinah was handcuffed and taken to the Dhoonidhoo detention island.

Local media reported this week that Jinah was demoted from the rank of chief superintendent to superintendent on November 19.

Jinah was reportedly demoted over remarks he made to the media following the arrest of Gassan Maumoon, son of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

However, in June this year, the Civil Court ruled in favour of Jinah in a case filed by Gassan claiming violation of his basic rights by the superintendent. In October 2011, Gassan was arrested on suspicion of hurling a wooden block into a crowd of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protesters outside the former president’s residence.

While the former head of the Drug Enforcement Department (DED) has reportedly decided to leave the Maldives Police Service, police have said the request made last month has not yet been granted as the disciplinary board was investigating a case involving the senior officer.