Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahee
The Maldives Bar Association (MBA) has called for the suspension of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed pending an investigation into his alleged sexual misconduct.
In a statement, the MBA challenged the independence and transparency of any Judicial Service Commission (JSC) investigation without the suspension of the judge in question.
Hameed is under investigation by both the police and JSC over the circulation of at least three sex videos apparently depicting him fornicating with unidentified foreign women.
Four members of the JSC voted in support of a motion last Wednesday (July 17) against suspending Justice Hameed due to “lack of evidence”, despite recommendations that he be taken off the bench until investigations were concluded.
Following the decision, JSC Deputy Chairman Abdulla Mohamed Didi and Latheefa Gasim resigned from the five-member committee investigating the matter.
The Bar Association, presided over by former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood, said in a statement (Dhivehi) released today that it was “against principles adopted in modern democratic societies” to allow Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed to remain on the bench while he faced allegations of adultery and other concerning conduct.
The JSC last week disregarded a recommendation by its own investigating committee to suspend Hameed, leading the MBA to questioned whether the JSC was capable of reviewing the matter impartially.
The Bar Association said prompt action was needed to verify whether the allegations against the judge were legitimate, in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the Maldives judicial system.
Priority, the association argued, had to be given to uphold credibility, integrity and public trust within the country’s legal system rather than “defending the interests” of a single judge.
The statement also called on the JSC to appoint two members to the subcommittee investigated the judge’s conduct that had been left vacant by the resignations of Abdulla Mohamed Didi and Latheefa Gasim.
Transparency calls for investigation
NGO Transparency Maldives also expressed concern that leaked video footage purportedly of a supreme court judge acting in a “culpable manner” could jeopardise the integrity of the country’s apex court, and public confidence in the wider democratic system.
“There is a duty vested upon all relevant authorities to uphold and protect the integrity of such a important state institution,” the NGO said in a statement (Dhivehi).
“Therefore, Transparency Maldives believes that, in order to ascertain Supreme Court’s credibility and public trust, it is very important for all authorities to reveal the truth behind the accusations as soon as possible.”
The NGO called on authorities and the JSC to refrain from any conduct that could be deemed as “dubious” in their handling of investigations into the judge.
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, and called for constitutional amendments.
The video of the Supreme Court Justice allegedly indulging in adultery came into media limelight following the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a senior Council Member of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and former Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry.
Snapshots taken from the video began circulating on social media networks Twitter and Facebook, prompting a police investigation. The police formally notified all relevant authorities including the JSC, the Prosecutor General and President Waheed regarding their investigation into the case.
The JSC is also investigating a further two videos involving the Supreme Court Judge, including spy camera videos of Hameed discussing political corruption of the judiciary with a local businessman, and a meeting with former Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim.
The footage has been branded a politically motivated attempt to discredit the judge and dismissed as “fake” by local business tycoon, JSC member and presidential candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim,
Gasim has meanwhile said he personally saw no conflict of interest between his bid for the presidency and current role on the judicial watchdog. The presidential candidate voted against suspending Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed during the JSC vote.
The public’s representative on the JSC, Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, was sharply critical earlier this year of the commission’s conduct and motivations, particularly its “open discussion” of its intent to eliminate Gasim’s rival presidential candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, from contesting the upcoming elections.
“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 stated in March.
“Gasim even went to the point of asking the UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul when she held a meeting with us to state in her report that it was Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who torched the courts. I heard him say exactly that,” Sheikh Rahman said.
Knaul’s final report to the UN Human Rights Council following her mission to the Maldives in February, was a damning indictment of the country’s judicial crisis.
JP Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.