The Judicial Services Commission has today cleared Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed of misconduct charges, citing lack of evidence to indict him in a court for alleged appearance in three sex tapes involving three different foreign women.
The accused must be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, said the judicial watchdog, which claimed it cannot take disciplinary action against a judge without “enough evidence.”
The JSC also cited the police’s Forensic Service Directorate’s failure to confirm the identity of the man involved in the sex tapes in its decision to clear Hameed of charges.
In it’s ruling, the JSC noted the following:
- The police had closed investigations until new evidence emerged
- The police had collected the sex tapes during an investigation into an attempt to blackmail a judge
- The tape may constitute an act of espionage as it appears to have been filmed by an unauthorised body and it is against the constitution to obtain evidence by unlawful means
- Supreme Court’s ruling on former Civil Service Commission President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan states disciplinary action can only be taken with sufficient evidence
The Maldives Police Services formally launched an investigation in July 2013 after still images of the sex tape, alleged to show the judge committing adultery with an unidentified foreign woman, began circulating on social media.
At the time, the JSC voted not to suspend Hameed, citing lack of evidence.
Shortly afterwards, two more videos appearing to show Hameed engaging in sexual relations with two more foreign women were leaked on social media.
Business tycoon and former JSC member Gasim Ibrahim in July dismissed the sex tape as fake and an attempt at blackmail.
Gasim placed third in the first round of presidential polls in September and asked the High Court to annul the first round of polls.
The Supreme Court took over the case and ordered a revote claiming widespread vote fraud,with Hameed one of the four judges forming the majority verdict.
Images and symbols depicting scenes from the sex-tape formed a prominent part of protests against the court’s repeated interference in the subsequent round of polls.
Hameed also voted to unseat two opposition MPs over a case of decreed debt, and voted to remove Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek and his deputy Ahmed Fayaz for alleged contempt of court.
In December, Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz said police investigation had stalled as police were unable to ascertain the identity of the man in the sex tapes.
At the time, local media Haveeru suggested the police had been unable to proceed with investigations due to the Criminal Court’s refusal to provide two key warrants in September.
The warrants reportedly include a warrant to take a facial photograph of Hameed and another to search his residence.
A second JSC sub-committee to investigate the matter asked for the judge’s suspension, but JSC President Adam Mohamed refused to put the suspension to a commission vote.
The now defunct Maldives Bar Association in April also called for the suspension of Hameed until investigations were complete.
“Given the serious nature of allegations against Ali Hameed, that the judge continues to hold trial contravenes norms of justice, conduct of judges, and established norms by which free and democratic societies deal with cases of this nature,” the statement read.
In May, the police closed investigations and said it would only open the case if it receives new information.
The room and date stamp in the sex tapes appear 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 then Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen’s “back-ups”, and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.
Yameen narrowly won the presidential election with Gasim’s backing.
“Even [ex 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 former 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.”
The Prosecutor General’s Office in April also filed corruption charges against Hameed over illegal transfer of credit from his state- funded mobile phone in 2010.
However, the Criminal Court in May claimed case files had been destroyed in a coffee spill.
The case against Justice Hameed – accused of abuse of authority to benefit a third party – was sent to the PG office in July 2013 by the Anti-Corruption Commission after investigating allegations in the 2010 audit report of the Department of Judicial Administration.
Auditors found MVR2,223 (US$144) was transferred Justice Hameed’s state-funded mobile phone on different occasions during 2010.
Meanwhile, the 2010 audit also discovered that MVR13,200 (US$856) was spent out of the apex court’s budget to repair a state-owned car used by an unnamed Supreme Court Justice, later revealed in the media to be Justice Hameed.
According to the police report cited by auditors, the driver of the justice’s car was responsible for the accident, which occurred on January 23, 2011.
However, the official driver insisted the car was undamaged when he parked and left it the previous night.
Despite the findings of the audit report, in March 2011 the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of corruption reported in local media regarding phone allowances and use of court funds to repair Justice Hameed’s car.
Moreover, in September 2011, the ACC began investigating allegations that over MVR50,000 (US$3,200) of state funds was spent on plane tickets for Justice Hameed’s official visit to China in December 2010.
The complainant alleged that Hameed also visited Sri Lanka and Malaysia both before and after his trip to China to attend a conference by the International Council of Jurists. A return ticket on a direct flight from Malé to Beijing at time cost MVR16,686 (US$1,080).
Furthermore, in May 2012, the ACC revealed that Justice Hameed was among three sitting judges illegally occupying state-owned apartments.