Criminal Court sentences MP Hamid to six months for non-compliance with court summons

The Criminal Court has sentenced Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor for not complying with the court summons in a case where he was charged for refusing to provide a urine sample to police.

Criminal Court Spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Manik today confirmed that the court has sentenced Hamid to six months in prison.

“He was sentenced for not complying with the court orders,’’ he said. ‘”The other case where he is charged for not giving the urine sample will continue.’’

Hamid’s lawyer and former deputy prosecutor general Hussein Shameem today told Minivan News that he had not officially received information about the court verdict but that he had heard it through the media.

‘’In the past eight years no one was sentenced to six months in a case where a person failed to comply with court summons,’’ he said.

Shameem said that normally the court sentences for not complying with court summons were a fine of MVR75 or a four month jail sentence.

He said that he will decide on appealing the case after he gets the court verdict officially.

According to Shameem, the court could sentence Hamid to an additional one year if it finds him guilty of the original case where he was charged for denying a urine sample to police.

Meanwhile, Hamid has issued a statement on the MDP’s website saying that he was not provided with an official requisition form as is required under article 7 of regulations on procuring, transferring, and testing urine samples and that he was not instructed to provide a urine sample as per regulations.

‘”At the hearing of the case held on 9 October 2013, the prosecution (state) lawyer had repeatedly failed to respond to my lawyer’s query whether I was instructed to provide a urine sample through an official requisition form as per regulations,’’ Hamid said in the statement.

“Therefore, this is an irrelevant and unsubstantiated case of political predation by the Maldives Police Service, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Criminal Court, in direct contravention and disregard to official procedures and laws.’’

He said that he had been attending the court according to the summons until 23 October, when there had been a parliament sitting scheduled meaning he was unable to attend, sending a letter to the court informing it of such.

Hamid said that the court did not respond to his letter.

Majlis refuge

Parliament yesterday brought an amendment to its regulations, allowing MPs to attend parliamentary sittings and voting even if they are convicted of a criminal offence.

A total of 10 people were taken into police custody on November 16 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.

In August this year Criminal Court Media Official Ahmed Mohamed Manik told Minivan News that the PG had charged MDP MPs Abdulla Jabir and Hamed with smuggling alcohol into the country and consuming alcohol.

Jabir and Ghafoor were also both charged with objecting to urine testing and possession of cannabis.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiza were also charged for objecting to take a urine test, said Manik.

Additionally, the son of former President Nasheed’s Special Envoy, Mohamed Hamdhoon Zaki,  has been charged for trafficking illegal drugs into the country – the penalty for which is 25 years and can be fined up to MVR10million.

On 24 October, the Criminal Court issued a warrant to arrest and summon Hamid to the court, but the MP took refuge in the parliament building on the same day meaning police were unable to arrest him.

Article 11 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act states that an MP cannot be summoned to court when Majlis sittings or parliamentary committee hearings are scheduled.

The parliament has also scheduled a no-confidence motion against Prosecutor General [PG] Ahmed Muiz for being biased and also for not fulfilling his legal duties in taking action against police and military officers who violated the law on February 6 and 7, 2012, after the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI) report found that officers had violated the laws.

The issue has been now scheduled to next Monday after the PG told the parliament that he needed more time to respond to the no-confidence motion.


Police unable to summon MP from refuge in Majlis

Additional reporting by Zaheena Rasheed

The Criminal Court cancelled this morning’s hearing into the case of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor who is being charged with refusal to provide a urine sample.

The Police told the Criminal Court they are unable to summon Ghafoor as per the arrest warrant because the MP is  currently residing within the inviolable premises of the People’s Majlis.

In reply to a police request to detain Ghafoor, the Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid, in reference to Article 11 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act, told the police an MP cannot be summoned to court when Majlis sittings or parliamentary committee hearings are scheduled.

The speaker warned such an act is punishable by law, stating: “Any act that violates the People’s Majlis immunity, honor and functioning and committed in contravention to the [Parliamentary Powers and Privileges] Act will breach the Majlis privileges.”

He also stressed that the time at which today’s trial was scheduled is the normal time parliament sittings have started every day since May this year.

Last Thursday, the Criminal Court issued a warrant to arrest and summon Ghafoor to the court, but the MP took refuge in the parliament building on the same day. Ghafoor is also being charged with possession of alcohol. He was arrested along with MDP MP Abdulla Jabir and eight others on Hondaidhoo Island in November last year

Speaking to Minivan News on Sunday inside the Majlis courtyard, Ghafoor said the courts were on “a personalized hunt” for him, and were not following due process.

Investigations into the case had been concluded a year ago. But the trial was suddenly being fast tracked to influence the MDP’s current majority in parliament, he alleged.

The Supreme Court on Thursday stripped MDP MP Ali Azim and MDP aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz of their seats, though the Parliamentary Privileges Committee said they do not accept the “politically motivated” ruling.

When Azim attempted to attend Saturday’s parliamentary sitting, the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) – in absence of instruction from the Speaker – stormed the building, removing Azim from the Majlis premises and turning him over to the police. Azim is currently being detained for allegedly assaulting an MNDF officer.

The police had previously arrested Ghafoor on October 7 to produce him at court.

“I’m being hunted by a corrupt judiciary”

“I’m not dealing with a court. I’m dealing with thugs. They have got armed people to produce me in court. There are no procedures. No norms,” said Ghafoor.

Recounting his treatment on Hondaidhoo Island on November 16 2012, he said that black clad police had stormed a private island, swimming onto the island’s beaches from the ocean at 4:00 am.

“They had lights on their foreheads so we could not see their faces. They came up from behind us, handcuffed us and threw us to the ground. They pushed our faces in the sand and kicked us with their boots,” Ghafoor said.

The Police Integrity Commission (PIC) launched an investigation into police conduct on Hondaidhoo Island and found the police guilty of assault of MPs Jabir and Ghafoor.

In August this year the PG filed charges against Jabir, Ghafoor and a person identified as Jadhulla Jameel, with smuggling alcohol into the country, consuming alcohol, objecting to urine testing and possession of cannabis. Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiza were also charged for objecting to take a urine test.

According to the Drug Act, Sections 123(a), 161(a) and 161(b), any person arrested on suspicion of having abused alcohol or narcotics has an obligation to comply with police requests for routine urine examination by promptly providing urine samples, and failure to comply is a criminal offence punishable with a one-year jail sentence.

If found guilty, Ghafoor and Jabir will be disqualified from their parliamentary seats.

Ghafoor said there was no other place but the parliament building for refuge, though he said he did not feel safe even at the Majlis. The MNDF storming of the Majlis to arrest MP Azim suggests they may do the same to him, he claimed.

“I am willing to stay here until the judiciary is destroyed. Now I know how helpless ordinary citizens are. I feel like I’m being hunted by a corrupt judiciary. You don’t feel good when you are being singled out. You feel like prey. You can never relax,” he said.

He spends his days reading and doing parliamentary work. His family and supporters visit him often and bring him evening tea and dinner.

“My party has been very good to me. I am always accompanied by my party’s MPs. Since I came here, I’ve been left alone only for an hour during Friday prayers. My family and supporters bring me food. I get food enough for ten people. I know they are with me,” Ghafoor said.


Police send case concerning MDP MPs Hamid and Bonday to Prosecutor General

Police have sent cases concerning opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Ibrahim ‘Bonday’ Rasheed to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

An official from the Prosecutor General’s Office has confirmed to matter to local media today and has said the PG Office was currently researching the case.

Local newspaper ‘Sun Online’ reported that police have requested to press charges against MP Hamid for obstructing police duty and requested MP Rasheed be charged for obstructing police duty, assaulting police officers, threatening and creating unrest.

On August 4, Ibrahim Rasheed was arrested and the Criminal Court placed him under house arrest for five days on charges of threatening and attacking a police officer and obstructing police duty.

According to a statement issued by the MDP, Rasheed was taken into custody at 12.30am from a popular cafe in the capital Male’ by “20 militarised police.”

“MP Ibrahim Rasheed was arrested under a warrant obtained by the police relating to an incident two days back on 30 July when it was reported that the MP was ‘bitten’ on his back by a policeman in the process of being arrested while participating in a protest rally,” the statement said.

Photos surfaced on social media showing bruises on the MPs’ back and the prescription letter from private hospital ADK where he was treated.

On July 22, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor was arrested after he broke through the police barricades near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA).

“We warned him and let him go as he first broke through the police barricades. We arrested him for obstruction of police duties after he broke through again,” police said in a statement.

In a statement following Hamid’s arrest, the MDP said Hamid and other protesters were arrested in violation of the laws stipulated under the constitution and international covenants Maldives is party to.