Former President Nasheed asks High Court to expedite case concerning Hulhumale’ magistrate court bench

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has asked the High Court to expedite the case filed by his legal team challenging the legitimacy of Hulhumale’ magistrate court’s bench.

Speaking to Minivan News today, former Human Resource Minister Hassan Latheef – a member of Nasheed’s legal team – said that the case has remained stalled at the High Court for over a year now.

“We filed the case at the High Court after we noticed that there were many issues regarding how the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has composed the bench,” Latheef explained.

“For one thing, the JSC does not have to bring selected judges from throughout the country and compose a bench to conduct the trial of a specific individual, that is not the normal procedure.”

The original case filed at the Hulhumale’ court – concerning the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – needed to be concluded soon because former President Nasheed did not wish to have pending criminal charges, Latheef said.

“But the case at the Hulhumale’ Court can only be continued when the High Court concludes this case we have filed at the High Court,” he noted.

“’When we filed the case at the High Court, on April 1, 2013 the court issued an injunction ordering Hulhumale’ court to halt the trial against Nasheed until the court concluded the case we have filed.”

The case filed by Nasheed’s legal team challenging the legality of the magistrate court bench was stalled after the JSC suspended the former High Court Chief Judge – who was presiding over the case – pending an investigation over a disciplinary matter.

During the hearings held at the High Court, the JSC contended that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the case as the panel of judges presiding over Nasheed’s trial was appointed based on counsel from the Supreme Court

Nasheed said at the time that he was  “prepared” to justify the reasons for the arrest of Judge Abdulla, and said he was ready to appear in court to defend the decision.

Nasheed also dismissed accusations of the High Court, the Supreme Court and the prosecutor general that he had ordered the military to arrest Judge Abdulla unlawfully.

“I did nothing unlawful during my tenure,” he insisted.

Nasheed also urged the public to attend the trial and witness proceedings, alleging that the case was politically motivated.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked three weeks of anti-government protests in January, leading the Nasheed administration to appeal for international assistance from the Commonwealth and UN to reform the judiciary.


JSC acted unconstitutionally in assigning panel of judges to Hulhumale’ Court: Speaker Shahid

Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who is also a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), appeared before Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee on Tuesday to answer questions regarding the the appointment of a panel of three magistrates to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

This panel of three judges were appointed to preside over the case against former President Mohamed Nasheed for his detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, and cases against other officials from the former government involved in the detention.

Prior to Shahid’s appearance, JSC Vice Chair Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi and member appointed to JSC from among the public, Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, have attended the committee over the same matter.

Meanwhile, JSC Chair Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed has refused to attend the committee on the grounds the matter is related to an ‘ongoing case.’

JSC acted outside its mandate: Speaker Shahid

Speaking at the committee meeting, Shahid stated that he believed that the judicial watchdog had acted unconstitutionally in assigning magistrates to a particular case.

“In deciding upon the bench, the JSC did follow its rules of procedures. As in, it was voted upon in an official meeting and six of the seven members in attendance voted on the matter. The seventh member being the Chair, does not vote in matters,” Shahid explained.

“However, whether it is within the commission’s mandate to appoint a panel of judges in this manner is an issue which raised doubt in the minds of more than one of my fellow members.”

Shahid then referred to the existing legal framework, quoting articles to back his statement that he did not believe the matter was within the responsibilities of the commission.

He quoted Article 21 of the JSC Act, Articles 48 and 49 of the Judges Act, and from the Judicature Act.

Article 21 of the JSC Act outlines in detail the responsibilities and powers of the commission.

Article 48 of the Judges Act states “A judge can be temporarily appointed to another court in the instance that the court is unable to sufficiently complete assigned work, or if the court has difficulties providing services, or if the judges serving in the court has been suspended from their duties. or if other circumstances which may cause a delay in the completion of work assigned to the court occur.”

Article 49 of the same act states “It is the Judicial Services Commission, with the counsel of the Judicial Council, which will come to a decision on the transfer of judges to oversee cases in other courts.”

Article 55 (a) of the Judicature Act states “In addition to the responsibilities assigned by other laws, the responsibilities of the Senior Judge of a superior court are the following: (a) Determine the Judges who would adjudicate the cases of that court.”

“None of these articles say anything about assigning cases concerning a particular individual to a specific set of people. The JSC is mandated with the appointment and transfer of judges. But it does not say anywhere here that the JSC holds the powers to assign cases to specific judges,” Shahid said.

“Hence, I do not believe that the appointment of a panel of magistrates to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate falls into the mandate of the JSC,” Shahid stated.

“The reason why I need to state this here is because the constitution explicitly guarantees the right to a fair trial to all individuals. When things proceed as they are going now, this is being compromised. So I must speak out,” he said.

Responding to a question posed by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Abdulla, Shahid said he did not “feel it was the right course of action” to remove then Senior Magistrate of Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court Moosa Naseem from the case after he had assumed responsibility for the case.

“Moosa Naseem, who was then in charge of the Hulhumale’ Court sent in his recommendations for magistrates who are to sit on Nasheed’s case to the JSC for comments. This list included his own name. The JSC then replaced all three of these magistrates. Do you feel this was done in the rightful manner?” Abdulla asked.

“I do not think removing Naseem was the right course of action. There should be a good reason to remove a judge from a case from which the judge has not recused himself. I think that is a good issue for this committee to further investigate,” Shahid responded.

Asked about the formation of the Hulhumale’ Court, Shahid answered that his summons letter had detailed that he would be asked specifically about the assignment of the panel, adding that therefore he felt it “unnecessary to even extend [his] thoughts” to any other topic.

Political competitiveness

“As Speaker of Parliament, you have been working with us 77 MPs for years now, in a very politically volatile environment. You are also one of the most senior council members of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), and we belong to your political opponent, MDP,” MDP MP Ali Waheed addressed Shahid.

“In these past few years, there have been times when we have acted very harshly against you. We even initiated a no confidence motion against you. Now to come back, you have just told us that you don’t think the assignment of the Hulhumale’ Court panel is legitimate. This is the panel which will be ruling on the presidential candidate of your political opposition,” Ali Waheed continued.

“My question to you is, under these circumstances, can you tell us in what light you see the events that are unfolding? Do you think the trial that is being conducted by this panel we speak of can be free and impartial?”

Shahid promptly responded that he did not entertain any political thoughts while serving as a JSC member.

“You have pointed out that I come from a specific political party, and you are right. Nevertheless, I was voted in as Parliament Speaker through votes cast by MPs from various parties. When I sit as speaker, I do not see any political action, and instead work as per the regulations and the constitution,” Shahid answered.

“I sit in the JSC because of my role as speaker, and hence as a rule, I have no right to harbour any political thoughts or mindset in the work I do there, nor will I do so,”’he said.

“In casting my vote in JSC or advocating for different matters in the commission’s meetings, the only focus I keep is on doing what is constitutionally mandated. Hence, even at a politically turbulent time, on a very politically contentious matter, I am sitting here in this chair and telling you that in my personal capacity I believe the JSC acted wrongfully in having appointed that panel,” Shahid repeated.

Chair of the Independent Commissions Oversight Committee Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed did not attend Tuesday’s committee meeting. He was also not present at the last two meetings of the committee where JSC members Abdulla Didi and Sheikh Rahman were summoned.


“JSC politicised, trying to eliminate Nasheed and MDP from elections”: JSC Member Shuaib

Judicial Services Commission (JSC) member Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman has spoken out against the judicial watchdog body, declaring it as politicised and attempting to eliminate former President Mohamed Nasheed from the September 7 elections.

The JSC has not only created the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court in which the former President is being tried, but has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing the case. The JSC’s membership includes several of Nasheed’s direct political rivals, including Jumhoree Party leader and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, one of Nasheed’s rival presidential candidates.

Sheikh Rahman, the member of the commission appointed by the public, said political influence of the commission had heightened after Gasim had been appointed.

He is the second JSC member to blow the whistle on the Commission, echoing the concerns of JSC member Aisthath Velezinee who was stabbed in the street in early 2011.

Sheikh Rahman made the remarks during a live appearance on local TV channel Raajje TV, just over a week after UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul also aired concerns over the JSC in a statement following a fact finding mission to the Maldives.

Speaking on the show, Sheikh Rahman said the JSC had openly discussed their intent to ensure the elimination of the Maldivian Democratic Party and presidential candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed from the upcoming elections.

Sheikh Rahman alleged that Chair of the Commission, Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed, had abused his post and powers as the chair to try and eliminate Nasheed from contesting the elections, and alleged that Adam Mohamed had “used the commission as a political tool”.

“The politics of the majority control the commission, hence the rule of law, due process and due diligence do not exist in the JSC,” Sheikh Rahman stated. “The commission has no amount of respect for constitutional principles.”

“It is common now to hear a lot of MDP and Nasheed bashing in commission meetings. This was not how things usually were before. I believe politically biased comments like this have increased since Gasim joined the JSC as a representative of the parliament,” Sheikh Rahman continued.

“Gasim even went to the point of asking the UN Special Rapporteur Knaul when she held a meeting with us to state in her report that it was MDP who torched the courts. I heard him say exactly that,” Sheikh Rahman said.

JSC Chair abuses power to continue running unlawful Hulhumale’ Court

Sheikh Rahman further revealed that the JSC had “handpicked” magistrates to preside over the case against Nasheed, for his detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

He said that the JSC’s intention in assigning the case at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to the three specific magistrates was for the explicitly stated purpose of “sentencing Nasheed”.

According to Sheikh Rahman, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was initially established through misinformation and manipulation of the commission on the part of JSC Chair Adam Mohamed.

“The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court is actually abolished automatically with the concept of judicial districts coming into effect upon the ratification of Judicature Act on 10 August 2010. And yet, they continue to run the court,” Sheikh Rahman stated.

He went on to say that as the constitution defines Hulhumale’ and Villingili as parts of the capital Male’ city, there was no authorisation to set up separate magistrate courts on these islands.

Sheikh Rahman alleged that despite these facts, JSC Chair Adam Mohamed had invoked the theory that Hulhumale’ and Villingili were separate islands and were therefore qualified to have their own magistrate courts.

Appendix 2 of the Constitution of Maldives which defines administrative divisions, states that Male’ is inclusive of Villin’gili and Hulhumale’.

Sheikh Rahman revealed that he had, as a member of the JSC, submitted a complaint to the commission to review the decision regarding the court on the grounds that it was unlawfully established. He stated that his attempts were in vain as Chair Adam Mohamed had once again abused his powers and refused to schedule the matter during the commission sessions.

Sheikh Rahman stated that he had made multiple requests for a decision on the Hulhumale’ Court, all of which was rejected by the chair. He confirmed that he had not received any written or official responses to the motions he submitted on the matter.

“Another false justification that Adam Mohamed used is that the matter cannot be discussed in the commission as it referred to an ‘ongoing case’,” he said.

UN Special Rapporteur Gabriella Knaul also criticised the ‘arbitrary appointment’ of judges to Nasheed’s case. She also stated that the Hulhumale’ Court did not have the constitutional mandate to oversee the specific case.

Former JSC member Velezinee also repeated her concerns about the politicisation of the JSC at a recent press conference held to share her remarks on the preliminary findings of UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul.

Incumbent JSC Member Gasim Ibrahim, meanwhile called Knaul’s findings ‘lies and jokes’ at a JP party rally.

The Hulhumale’ Court meanwhile on Wednesday refused to delay Nasheed’s trial until after the elections, despite the prosecution stating they had no objection to such a decision.

Gasim Ibrahim was not responding to calls at time of press.


“Nations say it will be difficult to accept elections if I cannot contest”: former President Nasheed

Former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that India does not wish for the Maldives to have a presidential elections in which any party’s candidate is barred from contesting.

The former President, who returned today from an official visit to the country, said India was concerned that this may lead to unrest in the island nation.

“India wishes for peace in the Maldives. And they see that the way to achieve this is through holding elections after establishing an interim administration,” he claimed.

“Nations are telling me in very clear terms that it will be difficult for them to accept election results if I am barred from contesting,” Nasheed said, speaking to local media upon his arrival from India on Monday afternoon.

Responding to questions as to why he had failed to attend his hearing in the Hulhumale’ Court  scheduled for Sunday, he responded that he “did not believe the trial can be carried on.”

Nasheed was due to attend the second court hearing at the Hulhumale Magistrate Court regarding his controversial arrest of the Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Nasheed insisted that his trial can be put off until after the elections, citing the case of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s trial being postponed until after the country’s elections.

“Those are judicial procedures. That is the norm. That is how the world sees it. If elections in the Maldives are held in any other way, very few in the international sphere will accept the result,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed said that weakened relations between India and Maldives could be strengthened by renewing the agreement for airport development with Indian infrastructure giant GMR.

The developer was given a seven day eviction notice in late November 2012, after the government declared its contract void.

“As I see it, the GMR contract will be renewed before this year’s elections,” Nasheed stated.

Nasheed said that despite the government’s repeated assertions that the Maldives’ relationship with India remained unaffected, ties were becoming increasingly weakened. He said Maldivian citizens were facing more and more difficulties as bilateral ties with India continued to slump.

Although Nasheed did not name any Indian officials, he claimed to have met with relevant authorities in India and held discussions on restrengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

“If we are unable to improve ties, it’s not just visa issues we will be faced with. We might need to deal with difficulties in obtaining much of the construction material or food items we import from India,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed also stated that he would be travelling abroad at the end of February, having accepting an invitation from the Commonwealth Secretary General, and to Denmark under an invitation from the state.

Hundreds of MDP supporters gathered near the jetty and at the airport to greet Nasheed on his arrival.

Minivan News observed that police had cordoned off many of the main roads leading to the jetty area.

An MDP representative claimed a number of MDP members were arrested at the site of the gathering.

Police Media Official Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at the time of press.


JSC asks Supreme Court to look into legality of Hulhumale Magistrate Court

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team has stated that neither the Attorney General’s Office nor the Prosecutor General’s Office presented any arguments to confirm the legality of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court at Sunday’s hearing at the High Court.

Member of the legal team, Hisaan Hussain, however stated that the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) had used the opportunity to present its case.

At a press conference held Sunday, Hisaan further stated that they felt it would be unjust for the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court to be presiding over any case after Nasheed’s case was temporarily halted over allegations of the court being unlawfully established.

JSC lawyer Abdul Fahthah stated in court today that the JSC had lodged a case at the Supreme Court on the same morning asking the court to look into the matter of the legality of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has stated that along with Nasheed’s trial, the trials of the other four persons regarding the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed have now been temporarily halted.

In addition to Nasheed, former Minister of Defence and National Security Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfanu, former Chief of Defence Force retired Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi and Colonel Mohamed Ziyad are also being tried individually for the same case.

The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court held the first hearing of Nasheed’s case on October 9. The second hearing had been scheduled for November 4, which was cancelled following the injunction granted Sunday morning by the High Court.

Nasheed’s legal team has previously raised concerns about the legality of the Hulhumale’ court, citing Article 141 (a) of the Constitution and Articles 53 (b) and 62 of the Maldives Judicature Act.

Minivan News was unable to contact the PG Office and the AG Office at the time of press.


High Court to decide on injunction for Nasheed trial

The High Court will decide on a request by former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team for an injunction halting his trial over the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed at a hearing on November 4, the same day the trial at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court is set to resume.

Concluding today’s hearing of an appeal lodged by Nasheed’s legal team, challenging the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’s ruling on three procedural issues raised at the magistrate court’s first hearing on October 9, High Court Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariya said the three-judge panel would issue a ruling on the injunction at the next hearing on the morning of November 4.

Speaking to press after the hearing, Nasheed’s lead attorney Hisaan Hussain explained that a request was made for a temporary injunction to suspend the criminal trial pending a ruling by the High Court on the procedural points.

“Today we submitted in detail the reasons we are seeking a temporary injunction,” she said. “In response, the Prosecutor General’s Office said they did not have anything further to say about issuing the injunction and to proceed in the way the court decides. That is, they do not object to [the court] issuing the injunction.”

On the High Court scheduling its next hearing for November 4, Hisaan noted that the next hearing at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was scheduled for 4:00pm on the same day.

“We believe seeking an injunction is by its nature a matter of urgency,” she said. “So we have requested that the court expedite its decision on the injunction. We hope the court would make a decision before [November 4]. We will make such a request to the court in writing as well.”

At today’s hearing, Nasheed’s legal team raised the three procedural points dismissed by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court: a magistrate court holding a trial on a different island to where it was based; the constitutional legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court; and the legality of the arrest warrant issued by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, as such orders could only be issued by a court in the locality of the defendant’s permanent address.

At the October 9 hearing, the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court summarily dismissed the first two points and agreed to hear the last issue. The court however ruled that the warrant was issued legally as it was following a precedent established by the High Court.

Meanwhile, the High Court today allowed the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to enter into the appeal case as third parties on the issue of the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Lawyers from both institutions were present at today’s hearing. The state was represented by lawyers from the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO).

Requesting the injunction, Hisaan reportedly argued that failure to do so could cause irreparable injury to the rights of the defendant as the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court could conclude its trial and sentence the former President before the High Court ruled on the appeal.

While Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham asked for an opportunity to respond to the request for an injunction, Judge Shuaib said that the three-judge panel had decided that the AGO attorney could not be allowed to argue regarding the injunction.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed also attended the hearing along with MPs, senior members and supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Almost an hour before the beginning of the hearing, police assisted by officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) cordoned off the area surrounding the High Court at the former presidential palace.

“Unfair and unjust”

The MDP secretariat meanwhile issued a statement in the wake of the hearing expressing concern with the High Court’s scheduling of its next hearing for November 4.

“The party believes that the result of conducting both hearings on the same day will be the defence attorneys losing the opportunity to prepare for the original case at the ‘Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’,” the statement read.

The MDP statement contended that the defence attorneys could only prepare for the trial based on the decision on the procedural processes.

The party also noted that the High Court has in the past conducted hearings at night and on public holidays to issue temporary injunctions.

“However, while a week has passed since the appeal and request for an injunction on behalf of President Nasheed has been filed at the High Court when the hearing was held today, the party believes that the decision to issue a ruling on the injunction on the same day the original case is to be conducted at the ‘Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’ is neither fair nor just,” the party said.


Former President Nasheed presented to court hearing, protesters gathered outside

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has been presented to a court hearing under police custody, following his arrest on Monday on an order issued by Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

Hundreds of protesters are gathered in the area surrounding the court. Protesters claim that the Hulhumale’ court is unlawful and are calling for Nasheed to be freed.

The arrest of Nasheed on the island of Fares-Mathoda by the police followed a decision by Nasheed’s party to ignore two previous summons and a travel ban issued by the court, which the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) contend has no legitimacy under the 2008 Constitution. The matter is currently being considered by the Supreme Court.

Excessive force used in arrest: Amnesty

International human rights NGO Amnesty International has stated that the Maldives Police Services (MPS) used “excessive force” during the arrest of Nasheed.

The statement noted eyewitness accounts of the police vandalising the house of former Minister of Housing and Environment Mohamed Aslam, where Nasheed was staying at the time of arrest. It also highlighted accounts of attacks against supporters outside the residence who were exercising their right to protest peacefully.

Regarding the case against Nasheed, the statement further says that although it is “positive” that the Maldivian authorities are investigating the case, the organisation is concerned that the human rights violations during the 30 year presidency of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom and those that have occurred since Mohamed Waheed Hassan assumed office in February 2012 were being ignored.

“Investigations into past abuses are always welcome. However, accountability must not be selective – all authorities including former presidents should be held accountable for human rights violations. The focus on human rights violations during only Nasheed’s presidency appears politically motivated,” said Amnesty International’s Researcher on Maldives Abbas Faiz.

Arrest was carried out “very professionally”: police

Police have released a statement claiming that police officers acted “very professionally” in bringing Nasheed into police custody.

The statement says that the police had initially requested Nasheed to hand himself over to the police. According to the police, officers broke down the door of the room Nasheed was in and detained him after he failed to respond to the initial commands. The statemen claims that this is the general course of action used by police in similar situations.

The police denied that any officers used offensive language or that any physical or that psychological trauma was caused to anyone during the arrest.

The statement further notes that from the time Nasheed was brought to the Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre last night, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives and the Police Integrity Commission have been provided with the opportunity to observe the proceedings of the operation to arrest Nasheed.

Police have also stated that Nasheed is allowed access to legal counsel and family under the arranged regulations.

“No chance of a fair trial”

The MDP has claimed there is no chance of a fair trial in the Maldives for former President Nasheed, and Nasheed’s legal team have complained about the “extraordinary way” the trial is being conducted.

President Nasheed’s legal team said they had not received official notifications from the court about trial dates., and were instead learning this information from local media reports.

“Moreover, in an unprecedented move, the Judicial Services Commission, which includes President Nasheed’s political rivals (such as resort tycoon and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim), have hand-picked a panel of three magistrates to oversee the case, whose names have been kept secret. This is in breach of normal practice and in violation of the Judicature Act,” the party stated.

“The coup has not been fully completed,” said MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor. “There is no point bringing President Nasheed down in a police mutiny if he then goes on to win presidential elections 18 months later. To ensure its survival, Mr Waheed’s regime needs to remove President Nasheed from the political equation and that is precisely what they intend to do.”

He noted that the UN Human Rights Committee, the International Commission of Jurists, Amnesty International, FIDH, and the Commonwealth had all have expressed concern over the independence and competence of the Maldivian judiciary and called for reform.

Police used force despite Nasheed not showing resistance: Aslam

Former Minister of Housing and Environment, who had accompanied Nasheed on the police boat along with MDP MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy and Ilyas Labeeb, told Minivan News on Monday that Nasheed had not shown any resistance to being arrested, but the police had used undue force in the arrest.

Aslam further said that the police had forced themselves into the house, damaging property in the process. He further said that the police had “pushed around” people inside the house.

In addition to riot guns, Aslam also alleged that police had been carrying firearms.

“We also later on knew that they had pistols. I don’t know what sort of pistols they were. But we saw them packing them away after escorting us on to the boat,” Aslam said.

MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik gave a press briefing following a visit to Nasheed in Dhoonidhoo on Tuesday afternoon, stating that the former president was being kept in detention outside of the normal systems and deprived of his freedoms. He said that he condemned the police treating Nasheed “like a convicted criminal”.

No force used after Nasheed was brought to Dhoonidhoo: PIC

Police Integrity Commission (PIC)’s Vice President Abdullah Waheed confirmed Tuesday that a three member team had visited Dhoonidhoo on Monday night following Nasheed’s transfer to the detention centre.

Speaking to Minivan News, Waheed said that observers had not accompanied the police who had travelled to FaresMathoda to arrest Nasheed, but had stayed at Dhoonidhoo from the time he was brought until midnight.

“During their visit to Dhoonidhoo, our team did not see any force being used against Nasheed,” Waheed said.

“We have not received any complaints from anyone alleging anything was done wrong by police during Nasheed’s arrest,” Waheed said, adding that the commission only looked into matters when an official complaint was filed.

Vice President of Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) Ahmed Tholal confirmed to Minivan News that himself and the President of HRCM Mariyam Azra had made a visit to Dhoonidhoo last night in relation to Nasheed’s arrest.

He said that more information could be provided following a commission members meeting, but did not respond to calls later.


Former President Nasheed will attend willingly if case is heard in legitimate court: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned the Maldives Police Service for arresting former President Mohamed Nasheed today, terming it an ‘unlawful’ act.

MDP MP Ahmed Sameer stated that the police, who had demonstrated against being issued unconstitutional orders on the February 6, were now doing the same.

Sameer referred to Articles 155 and 245 of the Constitution of the Maldives and Article 53 of the Judicature Act, stating that the police were implementing an order which went against all three articles.

“There are slayings and murders happening continuously, but the focus is instead on politically motivated action against former President Nasheed,” Sameer said.

Sameer also echoed Nasheed’s legal team’s previous statement that there was a case to determine the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Court currently pending in the Supreme Court.

“We are saddened that the Supreme Court is continuing to stay silent on the matter, and is making no efforts to inhibit an unlawful order by an unconstitutional court,” Sameer said.

“Why doesn’t the Supreme Court take the initiative and transfer the case against Nasheed from the unlawful Hulhumale’ court to a legally established court? He would willingly attend then,” Sameer further stated.

The police have an ongoing investigation against Sameer which was submitted by the Department of Judicial Administration on September 12 accusing him of “creating public mistrust” towards the Supreme Court.

Former Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee of the Special Majlis, Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail, has also published an article on his personal blog stating the reasons why the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court cannot be considered a legal entity.

Ismail writes “[Hulhumale’ court] was created by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) without authority derived from Law. Therefore the validity of any order or judgements issued by this court is questionable, and the Constitution says no one has to obey any unlawful orders, i.e, orders which are not derived from law. Therefore, President Nasheed’s decision to ignore the summons has more than reasonable legal grounds.”

Ismail further writes that no court has the power, under any law, to issue a travel ban on a person without ever summoning them to court.

He also stated that there was ample to room to believe that the courts were acting with a bias against Nasheed, owing to a number of other politicians and business tycoons who were repeatedly defying court orders and summons.

At Monday’s press conference MP Sameer and MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik called on the Minister of Home Affairs and seniors representatives of the Maldives Police Service (MPS) to not encourage the case to be carried out in an unlawful court by having the police obey its orders to arrest Nasheed and present him to the hearing.

The MPS has sent out a press release confirming that they have taken Nasheed into custody and that officers were now heading back to the capital with him.

MDP International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has also expressed concerns, stating he did not believe Nasheed would be allowed a fair trial.

“This is not about justice. This is a politically motivated trial to invalidate our candidate’s candidacy and to deliberately disrupt the MDP’s presidential campaign. We are in the largest voting centres and it is very clear who will win the elections. They can only win the elections by invalidating his candidacy. We are deeply disturbed by the developing situation. We do not believe he will have a fair trial.”

Meanwhile, President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza has stated on his twitter: “After Tuesday morning either you are with us or with the enemy. There is no negotiation or middle ground after Tuesday.”

Riza made the statement on Sunday evening, while the Hulhumale’ Magistrate issued the arrest warrant to the police on Monday afternoon.

Parliament rejects motion against Nasheed’s arrest

Parliament has rejected an emergency motion put forward by MDP MP and Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik against the arrest of Nasheed.

Speaker and DRP Member Abdulla Shahid stated that the motion was rejected on the basis that it concerned a case ongoing in the Supreme Court to validate the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

He referred to Article 149 of the Parliament Rules of Procedure which states that motions regarding cases ongoing in a court of law could not be accepted by the legislative.

Although Shahid stated that the Supreme Court was currently looking into the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, Moosa Manik stated that the motion was not about the Supreme court case, but about a case lodged at an unconstitutional court.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla echoed Moosa’s statement, saying that since the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was established unlawfully, the arrest warrant for Nasheed issued by the court must be considered invalid.

The motion also spoke of the public outrage that Nasheed’s arrest and unfair treatment against him would cause.

Three magistrates presiding over Nasheed case summoned to Majlis Committee

The Majlis committee with the mandate to oversee work of the executive has summoned the three magistrates appointed to preside over the case against Nasheed regarding the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed.

The three magistrates, whose names have not yet been announced, have been asked to attend the meeting at 3:45pm on Tuesday. Nasheed’s hearing, meanwhile, has been scheduled for 4:00pm Tuesday.

The decision to summon the magistrates was reached in a closed-door meeting of the committee held Monday afternoon.

The committee has an MDP majority with six of their MPs sitting in it, in addition to two  members from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), two members from Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and one member from the Jumhoree Party (JP).


Comment: Impunity can only be matched with impunity

This article originally appeared on Ibra’s Blog. Republished with permission.

Many of my friends and colleagues, especially my ‘twitter friends’ have been inquiring me of late, about my view of President Nasheed’s decision to disregard a summons by ‘Hulhumale’ Court’.

I myself have been pondering over it as my initial reaction was that President Nasheed should not have done it. However, when I looked at the issue dispassionately and in the context of many anomalies in the Criminal Justice System of the Maldives, the case does not appear to be so simple. In fact it is rather complex, and adds to the myriad of convoluted issues we are being forced to grapple with.

It is so complex that the 140 meagre characters that twitter gives us is barely enough to expound on this particular problem. At best, it is a unique and delightful academic issue to ponder. What I write below is not meant to be a legal discourse, but more an academic and intellectual approach to analyse a social problem.

It is not helpful to consider President Nasheed’s decision to ignore the court summons just by itself to fully understand the phenomenon. One needs to consider a host of other issues to grasp the enormity of the situation.

On the face of it, anyone who is summoned by the courts should willingly do so, and anyone disobeying an order by the court should rightfully be held in contempt of court and punished for it. This is necessary for the upholding of the rule of law.

However, one needs to also consider the basic assumptions underlying these powers of the courts and the reasons for granting the courts such powers.

Among many, the following assumptions are made in relation to the courts:

  • The courts will not act outside the jurisdictions granted to them by law, and any ultra vires orders by courts do not constitute a valid order which falls within the concept of contempt of court
  • The courts will apply same procedures to all, and are bound by law to do so, and will not be selective in the application of law and procedures
  • The courts shall not display any bias in any way towards or against any person, and most importantly will not be seen or perceived to be biased in any way

There are many other such assumptions, but I limit this discussion to the above three assumptions.

Firstly, on the matter of jurisdictions:

  • There is huge contention whether Hulhumale’ Court has been granted powers by the law to try any case whatsoever. The Constitution says very clearly that trial courts will be defined and created by Law. When Parliament created courts by the Judicature Act, there was no “Hulhumale’ Court” designated as a Magistrates Court.The Supreme Court itself is still sitting on the case of the validity of the Hulhumale’ Court. It was created by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), without authority derived from Law. Therefore the validity of any orders or judgments issued by this court is questionable, and the Constitution says no one has to obey any unlawful orders, i.e, orders which are not derived from law. Therefore, President Nasheed’s decision to ignore the summons has more than reasonable legal grounds.
  • The Judicature Act does make some provision for Superior Courts (Criminal Court, Civil Court, Family Court and Juvenile Court only) to appoint a panel of judges for some cases. Such panel has to be decided by the entire bench or Chief Judge of that court. In this case, a panel of judges from other courts was appointed by the JSC to Hulhumale’ Court. JSC does not have that authority by Law.If Hulhumale’ Court is legitimate, and is a Magistrate’s court, it would be the only Magistrate Court in Male’, and per the Judicature Act, would not have any other court to tie up to in order to convene a panel of judges. If it is considered part of Kaafu Atoll, then the panel should be convened from among magistrates assigned to Magistrate Courts operating within Kaafu Atoll, and the Chief Magistrate for Kaafu Atoll should convene the panel. The panel of judges convened now was convened by the JSC, and the panel includes judges from other atolls.
  • The Hulhumale’ court issued a travel ban order to President Nasheed, without ever summoning him to court, and in his absence, before any charges had been presented before him. No court has the power to issue such an order under any law. The court could have issued such a bail condition after the first hearing, if there was reasonable justification to believe President Nasheed might flee the country or he might present a security risk for the community through further criminal activity.

On the basis of the above, there is more than ample grounds to contend that the summons was issued by an Unlawful Panel of Judges, sitting in an Unlawful Court, which had already issued an Unconstitutional restraining order which was ultra vires

Secondly, on the matter of selective application of procedure:

  • Deputy Speaker of the Majlis Ahmed Nazim defied 11 summons and only appeared in court for the 12th summons. No action was taken against him.
  • An order for Abdulla Hameed (Gayyoom’s brother who now resides in Sri Lanka) to be brought to court was issued by the Criminal Court a long time ago. However the Court has not provided an English translation of the Court Order to be submitted to Interpol. Nor have the Police contacted Sri Lankan authorities to repatriate him under the bilateral agreement which allows that. It should be noted that Sandhaan Ahmed Didi was repatriated from Sri Lanka airport under the same agreement, without even a court order, or charges being laid against him.
  • There are numerous cases of prominent politicians and business tycoons disobeying court summons, and to date no one has been convicted for contempt of court for this offence. This leads to the argument that not appearing before the court on account of a summons is not an offence for which people are prosecuted even though it is a prosecutable offence. By past practice and hence precedent and customary practice, no one has to appear before the court every time a summons is issued.

Based on the above, there is more than ample grounds for President Nasheed to claim that there is no need for him to appear before the Court at the Court’s convenience and his inconvenience. Further, there is a rightful claim that the court has already exercised bias against him and that it is unlikely that he will receive a fair trial. More importantly, the fundamental principal of equal application of law and procedure has been seriously compromised.

Thirdly, on the matter of bias:

  • Ample demonstration of bias has been made in the above paragraphs to start with
  • One of the three judges on the bench has wrongfully authorised detention of President Nasheed before, and can be considered as biased against him
  • One other judge already has cases of misconduct being investigated against him by the JSC
  • The third judge is reportedly a classmate of Abdulla Mohamed in the Mauhadh Dhiraasaathul Islamiyya
  • Thus there is a widely held perception that President Nasheed will not be accorded a fair trial. One of the Principles of Natural Justice is that not only should justice be done, but it must be seen to be done too
  • When over 2000 cases are waiting to be prosecuted (including murder, rape, child molestation, child abuse and other serious white collar crimes) at the Prosecutor General’s Office, one asks the question why has this case been expedited beyond normal protocol

Thus there are grounds to argue that a panel of judges who issued ultra vires restraining orders on no demonstrated reasonable grounds cannot be expected to give a fair trial or judgment.

Thus, it would appear to be a reasonable decision on the part of President Nasheed that since he is not being summoned by a legitimate court, by legitimate judges through legitimate procedures, he is unlikely to get justice; and that his appearance before the court will simply whitewash a huge injustice to him, and therefore he will not appear before the court and face the consequences and fight it in his own way.

This is just a very summary description of what I think are some relevant issues surrounding the situation.

The legitimacy of courts and their orders and decisions lie in the courts and their actions being within the framework of the law, which is applied equally to all. An ultra vires decision of the court is no different from a decision by an individual to disobey the decision of the court itself.

Hence my tweet : Impunity can only be matched with impunity.

When legal systems break down to the level we are seeing, laws are not worth the paper they are written on. Anarchy rules, which comes from a very primitive instinct within human beings : survive any which way one can.

We enact laws and try to uphold the rule of law to move away from this and live in a civilised fashion. For rule of law to be upheld, all public institutions and officials have to abide by it.

It is extremely fragile. If just one disregards the rule of law and the issue is not rectified quickly, it spreads rapidly like a cancer and destroys the whole system, paving the way for anarchy. I think we are fast approaching that point. The final signs, that of treating human life with impunity on account of difference of opinion is already here. The rest is likely to follow soon.

The outlook is appears to be rather bleak. But from a systems theory perspective, this had to happen. All vestiges which held the faulty system had to break before reformation could take place. There will be chaos. There already is. It may worsen. And then, if we are lucky, out of chaos will emerge order. But what kind of order it will be depends on which paradigm wins. At this point in time, I would tentatively suggest it may be religious extremism.

Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail of the former Chairman of the Constitutional Drafting Committee of the Special Majlis, responsible for drafting the 2008 constitution

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]