Justice Ali Hameed appointed to the Judicial Service Commission

Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed has been appointed to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) by President Abdulla Yameen.

A media official from the judicial watchdog confirmed that Hameed would replace JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed, who resigned on Sunday (January 18) citing personal reasons.

Last year, the JSC cleared Hameed of misconduct charges, citing lack of evidence to support his alleged appearance in three sex tapes involving three different foreign women, which went viral in mid-2013.

Former JSC member and outspoken proponent of judicial reform Aishath Velezinee said Hameed’s “appointment to the JSC by the consensus of Supreme Court judges shows how low the courts have fallen”.

The commission voted against suspending Hameed last year, citing a lack of evidence, while the Maldives Police Service – which launched its own investigation – told the press that they been unable to determine if the man seen fornicating with the women was Hameed.

In its ruling last year, the JSC noted that the police had closed its own investigation into the case, and that the tape may constitute an act of espionage as it appeared to have been filmed by an unauthorised body, noting that it is against the Constitution to obtain evidence by unlawful means.

Corruption charges filed against the Supreme Court judge were also stalled last year after key documents were said to have been destroyed by a coffee spill at the Criminal Court.

Velezinee today described Ali Hameed as a puppet to the current regime saying: “Any judge who doesn’t deliver as directed will be subjected to action by the JSC. Ali Hameed has got a noose on his own neck – the sex tapes. The government can pull any time.”

“This compromises the independence of the judiciary as the old system would now prevail,” added Velezinee, stating that the current government would now be able to control the decisions of the courts.

The ten member JSC includes representatives from High Court, the trial courts, the People’s Majlis, the public (appointed by the Majlis), the attorney general, the chair of the Civil Service Commission, the Majlis speaker, a presidential appointee, a practising lawyer, and a Supreme Court judge nominated by his peers.

The appointment comes less than a month after the JSC found Hameed’s fellow judges on the Supreme Court – Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan – unfit to continue to serve on the bench in a ruling made available to neither the public nor MPs.

The secrecy of the decision did not prevent the Majlis voting to remove the pair three days later (December 14), in a move described as having “severely jeopardised” the country’s judicial independence by Commonwealth groups.

The Civil Court and several prominent lawyers also condemned the JSC’s recommendation to remove the judges, saying that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul also expressed serious concern over the decision, saying that it would “have a chilling effect on the work of the judiciary at all levels”.

In a 2013 report, Knaul noted that political polarisation in the Maldives had meant that the “commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly”.

Related to this story

JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla resigns

Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed cleared of misconduct in sex tape scandal

Two more sex videos of Supreme Court judge leaked

Police suspend investigations into Supreme Court judge’s sex scandal


High Court orders JSC to stop headhunt for High Court Judge

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has revealed that it has stopped its search for a High Court judge after receiving an order from High Court.

In an announcement released yesterday (August 17), the JSC said that it received the order on Monday (September 15) from the court instructing it to stop its headhunt until a decision is reached on the court case seeking the annulment of current selection regulations.

The final hearing of the case, submitted by lawyers Anas Abdusattar and Hassan Fiyaz, was completed on September 10. The lawyers claim that the regulations are in contradiction of Articles 17 and 20 of the Constitution.

Articles 17 and 20 concern non-discrimination and equality, respectively.

Nine people have applied for the post of High Court judge including judges from the Criminal Court, Family Court, and Civil Court.


Maumoon Hameed among applicants for prosecutor general position

Four current judges have applied for the latest opening for the position of Prosecutor General (PG) according to local media.

The names reported include Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaz Muhsin, Drug Court judges Mahaz Ali Zahir and Abdul Sattar Abdul Hameed, as well as Baa Hithaadhoo Magistrate Court Judge Ummu Kulsoom Aboobakuru.

Additional applicants include the former Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa and state prosecutor Aishath Fazna Ahmed.

Prominent lawyer Maumoon Hameed has applied for the PG post for the second time, after being rejected by the People’s Majlis four months after he was first put forward by his uncle, President Abdulla Yameen.

The PG’s position has been vacant since former PG Ahmed Muiz resigned from the post prior to a scheduled no-confidence vote last November. The opposition MDP brought the motion after suggesting Muizz had failed to take action against security forces who mutinied on February 7, 2012.

Prior the full house’s failure to approve Hameed’s nomination, the Majlis’ oversight committee had recommended that Hameed not be approved for the position, with committee chair Rozaina Adam telling Minivan News that the nominee had failed to meet the group’s assessment criteria.

The recent resignation of the acting prosecutor general Hussain Shameem has thrown thrown the justice system into confusion, with both state prosecutors and courts unsure of the legal validity of ongoing trials.

Despite calls to reconvene the Majlis, the government has maintained that cases can continue until the 18th Majlis begins its first session later this month.


Criminal cases in PG leadership absence unconstitutional, says Drug Court judge

Any trials of criminal cases in the absence of a prosecutor general (PG) and a deputy PG violates the constitution, Drug Court Judge Mahaz Ali has said.

Writing on his personal blog, Mahaz disagreed with the attorney general’s (AG) recent suggestion that the official in the senior most position at the PG office must take over the PG’s responsibilities.

AG Mohamed Anil claimed the country was in the midst of a “state of necessity” in the aftermath of acting PG Hussain Shameem’s resignation earlier this week.

The doctrine of necessity is the basis on which extra-legal actions by state actors, designed to restore order, are deemed constitutional.

Both the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Maldives Bar Association have also spoken out against the government’s stance on the matter.

State of necessity

Mahaz wrote that the state of necessity argument was valid only if there was no legal solution, suggesting that there was no reason President Abdulla Yameen could not propose a name for approval by the People’s Majlis.

“A state of necessity is faced only when all legal avenues have been exhausted. In the current situation, the solution is to appoint a new prosecutor general. The current People’s Majlis is not in a situation where it cannot carry out its duties,” wrote the judge.

“The authority that must nominate a candidate [the President] is able to do so. Unless these two parties are in a state in which they cannot carry out their constitutional duties, a state of necessity will not be faced in the prosecutor general’s case.”

Although Shameem has called on the executive and People’s Majlis to approve a PG immediately, President Yameen said he will only submit a new nominee to the newly elected house – set to convene on May 28.

After a drawn out nomination process, Yameen’s previous choice for the role – his nephew, Maumoon Hameed – failed to gain the required number of votes in parliament last month. In contrast to the previous session, pro-government parties will enjoy a healthy majority in the 18th Majlis.

Judge Mahaz argued that the Supreme Court order on 6 February – which ordered criminal courts to accept cases filed by the PG’s Office – did not provide a solution, only mentioning how to act in absence of a PG. The Supreme Court order was prompted by the Criminal Court’s January decision to refuse new cases until a new appointment was made.

Mahaz also referred to previous case law regarding the Attorney General’s Office, noting that no superior court had deemed similar instances to be ‘situations of necessity’ requiring the next in line to take charge of the office.

In July 2010, the eight Civil Court judges unanimously decided they would not proceed with civil cases in the absence of an AG following then-AG Husnu Suood’s resignation.

Violation of independence

The Bar Association of the Maldives has also joined the debate, arguing that the AG’s advise was inconsistent with the Prosecutor General Act, and that Shameem’s resignation had created a leadership vacuum.

The resignation of the deputy PG while the position of PG was vacant had left the office with no official who could now assume its legal responsibilities, the association said, arguing state prosecutors cannot represent the PG in the courts in the current situation.

“Given that the prosecutor general’s position is an independent and impartial position, this office believes the government’s exertion of influence by ordering state prosecutors to attend courts is a violation of the office’s independence,” the association said in a statement.

Despite the Prosecutor General’s Act requiring the appointment of a new PG within 30 days of the position’s vacancy, Shameem has headed the office for over five month’s following the resignation of his predecessor Ahmed Muiz in November.

The Criminal Court was forced to cancel more than 100 cases last week as state prosecutors refused to attend hearings, doubting their current legal capacity to represent the PG’s Office.

The Hithadhoo Court in Addu City is conducting criminal trials, however, and is issuing verdicts in the absence of a state prosecutor. Court officials told local media on Thursday that they did not accept the justification of absence put forth by lawyers from the PG’s Office.

In his resignation statement, Deputy PG Shameem had said he was unable to fulfill his duties due to the Criminal Court’s failure to prosecute foreigners involved in drug trafficking, delays in issuing rulings on drug related offenses, and “unreasonable obstacles” in filing cases at the court.

The President’s Office put out a third call for names this week, claiming the previous number of applicants had been low during the second call. Shameem had expressed interest in the position both times, while local media has speculated that a third call will allow Hameed to resubmit his application.

The MDP has also commented on the current situation, accusing President Yameen of nepotism:

“In contravention to principles of good governance in democratic countries, it is evident is more for the president in this current state to appoint his nephew or other relatives to the position of Prosecutor General.”


Supreme Court ejects lawyer defending Elections Commission

Additional reporting by Leah Malone, JJ Robinson

Lawyers defending the Elections Commission (EC) and representing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were today ejected from the Supreme Court, for criticising its order to indefinitely delay the second round of presidential elections.

The EC’s lawyer, former Attorney General Husnu Suood, was reportedly accused of contempt of court and removed from court.

The MDP’s legal team, including lawyers Hisaan Hussein and Hassan Latheef, who had intervened in the case as a third party (inter-partes claim), were also dismissed from today’s hearing, which was ongoing at time of press.

The Supreme Court letter posted by MDP lawyer Hisaan Hussain stated that she had been barred from appearing before the court in the ongoing Jumhooree Party (JP) versus EC case as her remarks “in the media as well as social media” had allegedly “diminished the dignity” of the court and were under investigation.

The letter also accused Hisaan of claiming that the Supreme Court order should be disregarded.

MDP MP Ahmed Hamza announced at a press conference that the party had left the Supreme Court case as a third party, as it “no longer believed justice would be served by the court.”

Hamza noted that the suspended lawyers were not allowed any opportunity to defend themselves before they were barred from the apex court.

The EC has defended itself by challenging the veracity of evidence submitted by the JP alleging electoral impropriety, and stated that even were the allegations factual, they were not sufficient to impact the results of the first round.

The EC has also pointed to unanimous positive assessments of the polling by local and international observers, including the Commonwealth, EU, US, UN, India, Transparency Maldives, the Maldivian Democracy Network and the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).

The Supreme Court nonetheless issued the injunction last night (September 23) to delay the runoff election until it has finished looking into the JP’s alleged discrepancies.

“No recourse”

Prior to attending the case today, Suood told Minivan News that the EC had “no recourse” against the Supreme Court’s suspension of the run-off, despite there being “no legal basis” for the order that has the “constitution up in flames”.

Suood contends that the Supreme Court injunction is in breach of Article 111 of the constitution, which demands a run-off election within 21 days of a first round in which no candidate reaches over 50 percent.

While there were more “complicated” legal arguments for refuting the Supreme Court injunction, Article 111 provides the simplest example of the constitutional violation committed by the court, according to Suood.

Suood explained that there is no way to appeal the Supreme Court order or seek another judicial remedy: “There is no further recourse,” he stated.

While constitutionally the legislative or executive branches should intervene in the matter, Suood said he believed parliament must take action against the Supreme Court.

“Parliament needs to re-convene and decide [what actions to take],” said Suood. “However parliament cannot take decisions [right now] because of the [divisive] politics within it.”

Disorderly protests by MPs of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and JP stymied, but failed to stop, an MDP resolution to ensure that the second round of the presidential election is held as scheduled.

Suood however explained that it would be “very, very difficult” to remove the judges sitting on the Supreme Court bench, not only because of political polarisation creating unrest within Parliament, but also due to the politicised composition of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

“The JSC would need to issue a motion [to remove a judge or judges], which would then need the approval of Parliament, but the JSC Chair is also Supreme Court judge,” noted Suood.

The JSC recently decided to reject a proposed no-confidence motion against its Chair, Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed, filed by commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahman.

“The JSC is out of control right now, we must do something. The JSC president is ‘out of the circle’,” Parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee Member and MDP MP Ahmed Sameer previously told Minivan News.

The Supreme Court bench consists of seven judges, all of whom discussed the ruling against the EC, however the injunction was signed by four: Justice Abdulla Saeed, Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed, Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla, and Justice Dr Abdulla Didi.

Meanwhile, during the MDP’s National Council meeting last night (September 23) the party’s presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed reassured supporters “not to worry”.

“The Maldives is changing, and it will change according to how we want it to. I call on the Election Commissioner to ignore the Supreme Court, and to obey Majlis resolution and hold elections on Saturday,” said Nasheed.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to accept the Jumhooree Party’s case against the Elections Commission last week, the MDP released a statement indicating its resolve to “not allow a courthouse that consists of some disgraced judges who face allegations of lewd conduct to abrogate the will of the people and disrupt the constitution”.

Meanwhile, the MDP demonstrated at the Supreme Court today behind police cordons further down the street, after the party’s pledge to continue direct action until the presidential run-off is re-scheduled.

Women on the front line held aloft cartoons mocking Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed – one of four judges whose name appeared on yesterday’s ruling – for his infamous role in a sex tape scandal earlier this year.

Others brandished pictures depicting the large pair of white underpants – a reference to the same video – that have quickly become emblematic of the demonstrations.


Judge’s public sexual misconduct charge upheld

The High Court yesterday (27 August) concluded a case appealed by former Civil Court Judge Mohamed Hilmy and his wife Aiminath Ali after the Criminal Court ruled that they were guilty of having sex in public.

On December 21, 2011, the Criminal Court ruled that the pair were guilty as charged and sentenced them to six months banishment and 15 lashes.

Hilmy had argued that his arrest was part of a police set-up.

The High Court ruling stated that, according to the statements provided by the police officers that attended the scene, they first saw a motorbike parked on the road near the beach area and, discretely approaching the beach, saw the pair sitting on the shadowy beach with their pants down.

According to the police officers the shadows of the pair were visible each time the Hulhule’ tower light passed them and as they walked closer they noticed that Aiminath Ali had her pants down to her feet, Hilmy’s trousers were down to his knees, and Aiminath was sitting on Hilmy’s lap.

When the police officers approached within six feet and turned the searchlights on the pair, Aiminath Ali got up and moved quickly to put up her pants but one of the police officers ran and held her hand. Police said she tried to pull her pants up using her other hand but another officer came and handcuffed her.

According to the police officers Hilmy got up and started running but he was also stopped and handcuffed.

The officers reported back to their superior in Hulhumale’ police station – Sub-Inspector Muthaba Abdulsattar – and he instructed the officers to take pictures of the couple as they were.

Hilmy, who has heard high-profile cases including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s request for an injunction against the Presidential Commission, and the Herathera Resort dispute, was suspended from the bench soon after his arrest.

Shahinda Ismail, then President of the Police Integrity Commission, confirmed to Minivan News at the time that a complaint was filed by the Judges Association (JA) and the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), alleging that the judge was arrested through a police set up regarding an issue that had arisen as a result of his work in the courts.

“In their letter, the JSC said the JA are saying that he has complained to them, that he was walking in with his fiancé and police came and handcuffed both of them and basically undressed them by force,” she said.

The police denied the accusations at the time in a public statement.

“The two had to be taken into custody on suspicion of sexual behaviour in a public place as they were at the garbage dump in the south of Hulhumale’ with their pants down,” police said.


ACC forwards phone bill corruption case against Supreme Court Judge

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has forwarded corruption allegations against Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PG).

While the ACC has yet to officially comment on the case, local media reported that the matter concerned the transfer of MVR 2,223 (US$144) from the judge’s state-funded telephone noted in a 2010 audit of the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA), which was subsequently repaid.

Previous reports by the Auditor General’s Office have noted that between October 2008 and December 2011, Supreme Court judges paid their phone bills amounting to MVR 281,519 (US$18,257) from the state budget, despite the fact that parliament had not allocated any phone allowances to the judges. Additionally, MVR 117, 832 (US$7640) was found to have been overspent on wages and allowances to the driver of a judge’s car.

The judge is also currently subject to investigation over his alleged appearance in multiple leaked sex videos depicting him fornicating with foreign women in what appears to be a Colombo hotel room.

A further video also appears to  show Hameed and a local businessman, Mohamed Saeed, discussing political influence in the judiciary.

Justice Hameed in the video also goes on to reveal his political ‘hook-up’ with Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – the current Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate – claiming that he was one of Yameen’s “back-ups” and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”, promising to “kill off” Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali “if it comes into my hands.”

Even [Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid will know very well that my stand is to do things the way Yameen wants. That the fall of this government was brought with our participation,” he adds.

However, he also claims that he was a person who “even Yameen cannot play with” and that over time he had “shown Yameen” who he is.

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) meanwhile decided not to suspend Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed citing “lack of evidence”, contradicting the recommendation of its own five-member committee appointed to investigate the matter.

Following the decision, JSC Deputy Chairman Abdulla Mohamed Didi and Latheefa Gasim resigned from the investigating committee. The JSC then voted not to accept their resignations.

Jumhoree Party Presidential Candidate Gasim Ibrahim, until recently a JSC member, has meanwhile publicly declared that Hameed’s sex tape was “a fake” orchestrated by “external forces” seeking to take over state assets, introduce other religions to the country, and create infighting in Maldivian society.


JSC votes not to accept resignations of sex tape probe members

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has reportedly refused to accept the recommendations of two members of the subcommittee investigating the leaked sex tapes of Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed.

According to local media, the JSC refused to accept the resignation of the watchdog body’s deputy president Abdulla Didi and presidential representative Latheefa Gasim.

Their resignations followed the JSC voting to disregard the subcommittee’s recommendation to suspend the judge pending investigation.

According to local media, the commission voted not to accept the resignations. Media officer Hassan Zaheen told Haveeru the two members would resume their duties following the vote.


Two more sex videos of Supreme Court judge leaked

Two more videos apparently showing Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed engaging in sexual relations with foreign women have been leaked on social media.

Three other videos already in circulation, including a third sex tape and two videos of the judge meeting prominent Maldivian business and political figures, recently prompted the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) to form a five-member subcommittee to investigate the matter.

The two new leaks follow the JSC’s decision last week to disregard the subcommittee’s recommendation and not suspend the judge, citing “lack of evidence”.

According to Maldivian law, the crime of fornication is subject to 100 lashes and banishment or house arrest for a period of eight months.

The courts regularly issue this sentence, overwhelmingly to women found guilty of extramarital sex. Sentences are carried out in front of the justice building next door to the Supreme Court, and occasionally attract high profile international media coverage, such as the sentencing in February this year of a 15 year-old rape victim.

Minivan News understands that one of the newly leaked videos, time-stamped January 24 2013, shows the judge fraternising with a topless woman with an eastern European accent. At one point the judge leans right into the camera, and his face is visible.

Afterwards, the woman repeatedly encourages the judge to drink wine from a minibar.

“If I drink that I will be caught. I don’t want to be caught,” the judge insists, refusing.

The room and date stamp appears to be the same as that in previously leaked footage of Hameed meeting a local businessman Mohamed Saeed, the director of ‘Golden Lane’.

In that video, Hameed asserts that he was one of Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Presidential Candidate’s Abdulla Yameen’s “back-ups”, and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

“Even [Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid will know very well that my stand is to do things the way Yameen wants. That the fall of this government was brought with our participation,” he appears to add, although the audio quality is poor (01:49).

One of the men claims to have heard plans to “kill off” leader of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and refers to a “second person to be killed,” however, due to the unclear audio it is not clear what the parties are referring to, or the context of the “killing”. The person believed to be Hameed then promises, “If it comes into my hands, I will kill him off.”

That video appeared shortly after police arrested Ahmed Faiz – a council member of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and then-Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry – while he was allegedly trying to sell another sex tape of the Supreme Court Justice.

Don’t make negative statements on the judiciary: Chief Justice

Chief Judge of the Supreme Court Ahmed Faiz has meanwhile urged the public and media to refrain from making statements that would give a negative image of the judiciary.

The judiciary could only be strengthened by the amending the constitution, Faiz claimed, according to local media.

“Based on our experience up until now, we know that in order to further strengthen the judiciary, the constitution needs to be amended, relevant laws need to be amended, and relevant laws required by the judiciary need to be introduced as soon as possible,” he said.

PPM Vice Presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel meanwhile declared at a party rally over the weekend that the judiciary was the “worst the country has seen in its entire history”, according to local media.

“Today’s reality is that, even if we reflect upon the magistrates in the island courts to the judges who sit in the courts of Male’, they receive higher salaries and better privileges than all of the common people. But the question is, while the system and their salaries are being upheld by taxes, do the people get their justice?” said Dr Jameel, who served as Justice Minister under former President Gayoom’s administration.

“In what country, in what way can a country’s people be made to suffer, batter the people and intimidate them, kidnap them and use the people’s money through corruption, abuse the people’s property through millions and then sell them, but have no investigation, no trial for these people, these events require you to give considerable thought to the state of the country,” he said.

Dr Jameel then blamed the judiciary for allowing former President Mohamed Nasheed’s name to appear on the ballot for the September 2013 elections.

“Some of the people who are standing for presidency should not have their names on the ballot paper if the country’s laws are being followed, if the State’s policies are properly implemented. Somebody has to be responsible for this. I believe that the blame goes on the judiciary,” Jameel said.

Supreme Court Judge Hameed with businessman Mohamed Saeed