Hundreds urge Criminal Court to release Nasheed’s court proceedings

Hundreds of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters today urged Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed to release a transcript of court proceedings necessary for the appeal of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s 13-year jail sentence.

In a letter to Judge Abdulla, over a hundred signatories noted the ten-day appeal period would expire on Monday, March 23, and urged the court to release court proceedings without further delay.

The High Court subsequently informed Nasheed’s lawyers that the appeal period would expire on March 26 (Thursday).

Nasheed was convicted of terrorism on March 13 over the January 2012 military detention of Judge Abdulla in a trial many international and domestic observers called a “travesty of justice.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Lawyers and Judges Gabriela Knaul last week urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial standards and observe due process.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Nasheed’s lawyer, Hassan Latheef, said the Criminal Court had only provided a summary of the judgment, and said the full court proceedings were necessary for a strong appeal.

Latheef said the High Court’s decision to discount weekends in the new appeal period demonstrated the judiciary’s extraordinary treatment of Nasheed’s case.

The Supreme Court in January issued new regulations reducing the maximum period of appeal from 90 days to ten days. On March 5, in an announcement online, the Supreme Court said the ten day appeal did not include weekends or the day the verdict was issued.

The MDP has previously accused the Criminal Court of deliberately thwarting Nasheed’s attempts to launch an appeal. Meanwhile, the legal team in a statement last week noted the Criminal Court contravened the Supreme Court’s appeal regulations by providing the judgment summary a week late.

Speaking to Minivan News today, MDP MP Eva Abdulla said the possibility of the judiciary providing Nasheed adequate time to prepare an appeal seemed “unlikely, to say the least.”

Eva, MDP MP Ahmed Falah and Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof led the group delivering the letters to the Criminal Court. The crowd set out from the MDP offices towards the Criminal Court at noon, but were blocked at the President’s Office and the Supreme Court.

MP Falah rubs wrists after being handcuffed
MP Falah rubs wrists after being handcuffed

Police detained Falah in a scuffle near the President’s Office. He was handcuffed and taken to the Police HQ, but was immediately released.

When the group reached the Criminal Court, they were pushed behind barricades in a narrow alleyway and police escorted each letter bearer separately into the Justice Building.

After submitting his letter, 27-year-old Shammoon Jaleel said he did not believe justice was possible in the Maldives at present and he had also put a suggestion into a suggestion box at the Criminal Court asking the judiciary to “tear down the justice building and build a park there.”

Shimla Adam, 45, pointed out Nasheed’s legal team did not have enough time to review court proceedings and lodge an appeal even if the Criminal Court provided the report today.

“I do not think President Nasheed will get any justice. I have no hope of things getting better in this country,” she said.

President Abdulla Yameen has previously called on all parties to respect the Criminal Court’s verdict, stating Nasheed had “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal” to challenge his conviction on terrorism charges at the High Court.

UN rights experts Knaul and Zeid have called on the Maldives to allow international observers including jurists to attend Nasheed’s appeal hearings.

This article was amended to include a statement by the Supreme Court which said the appeal deadline does not include weekends or the day a verdict is issued. 



Fingerprints on confiscated pistol did not match Nazim’s, lawyers reveal

Fingerprints lifted from a pistol confiscated from Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim’s residence did not match the former defence minister’s print, Nazim’s legal team has revealed.

At a press briefing this afternoon, Nazim’s lawyer, Maumoon Hameed, explained that a police forensic report shared with defence lawyers stated that “latent prints” from the weapon did not match either Nazim or any of his family members.

“This proves that their evidence has no connection to Colonel Mohamed Nazim,” Hameed contended.

Nazim is currently on trial on charges of illegal weapons possession after police raided his apartment on January 18 and discovered a pistol and three bullets in a bedside drawer. Nazim was subsequently dismissed from the cabinet and arrested on additional charges of treason and terrorism.

Hameed noted that the fingerprints must belong to a “third party” but police have not made any attempt to identify the source of the prints during the investigation after receiving the forensic report on January 20.

Police hastily concluded the investigation on February 9 and forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office, Hameed added.

Police have so far not responded to requests for an independent forensic examination of the evidence and other information relating to the case, he noted.

In a statement last month, police denied allegations made by Nazim’s legal team that police planted the pistol in the then-defence minister’s apartment to “frame” him, insisting that “nothing was done in violation of procedures, regulations and laws in the investigation of the case.”

Jumhooree Party MP Abdulla Riyaz, a former police commissioner and member of Nazim’s legal team, meanwhile questioned why police did not take video footage of the “forced entry” and midnight raid on January 18.

Riyaz also alleged that police did not take fingerprints from Nazim’s bedside drawer.

Riyaz urged President Abdulla Yameen to initiate an independent inquiry into the incident, contending that Nazim should be immediately released in light of the forensic evidence.

Riyaz reiterated that Nazim was being “framed” by political rivals to “destroy his political career,” adding that Nazim’s “unlawful arrest” would be investigated “some day” in the future.

Adhaalath Party Spokesperson Imran Zahir expressed concern over “obstacles to a free and fair trial” for Nazim due to several irregularities in the trial.

Zahir called on the PG office and Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to arrange for an open and public trial at a larger venue as only six members of the public were allowed into the Criminal Court to observe proceedings.

While Nazim has offered to bear the expense for a public trial at the Dharubaaruge Convention Center in Malé if the state was unable to do so, judges refused the request at a hearing earlier this week.

Anonymised witnesses

At this week’s hearing of Nazim’s trial on illegal weapons possession, lawyers objected to witness statements from 13 anonymised police officers submitted by the prosecution.

Noting that the PG office has redacted the names of the witnesses as well as other details, Hameed said defence lawyers could neither rebut nor impeach anonymous witnesses as it would be impossible to determine if the officers had in fact been present on the scene during the raid.

The state prosectors’ claim that anonymising the police witnesses to ensure their safety was not a reasonable justification without establishing that either Nazim, his family, or supporters have threatened or intimidated witnesses.

The justification was “laughable” as police have said the SWAT team officers involved in the raid were the most highly-trained in the force, he added.

Hameed questioned the officers’ training “if any of them are trembling with fear of Colonel Nazim, or his wife”, adding that it was more likely that they want to remain anonymous to “impede assessment” of their testimony.

Moreover, police and military officers have openly testified at former President Mohamed Nasheed’s trial, Hameed noted, adding that the opposition leader has the support of 45 percent of the electorate.

Hameed accused PG Muhthaz Muhsin of dereliction of duty and failing to protect Nazim’s fundamental rights.

At a High Court hearing on the legitimacy of the search warrant authorising the raid, Hameed said the PG office suggested that the Criminal Court should rule on the legality of the warrant during the trial and the High Court had concurred.

However, Hameed said prosecutors remained silent when Nazim’s lawyers raised the issue at this week’s Criminal Court hearing, after which  Judge Yoosuf Abdul Bari Yousuf had said the defence’s request had been noted and asked Hameed to speak on the evidence itself.

“This goes to show that the Prosecutor General does not want to afford these rights. It shows that the Prosecutor General is attempting to impede Colonel Mohamed Nazim from raising these legal points. We note our concern over this and appeal to [PG] not to act like this,” he said.

Related to this story:

Evidence against Nazim consists only of 13 anonymised police statements

Ex-Defence Minister calls for an open, public trial

No hope for fair trial, says former defense minister’s family

Nazim accused of conspiring with Villa group to harm state officials

Ex defense minister’s wife charged with illegal weapons possession


No forensic evidence against Nazim, says legal team

Police do not have forensic evidence to support possession of dangerous weapons charges against former Defense Minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim, his legal team has claimed.

Maumoon Hameed told media last night (February 15) that the police were unable to provide any forensic evidence at Nazim’s remand hearing, despite both Nazim and his family having previously provided fingerprints and DNA samples.

“In 2013, the police spoke to the media and said that they are capable of processing 600 fingerprints per hour. What is taking them so long to process Nazim, his wife, two kids’ and their maid’s fingerprint samples?” asked Hameed.

After his arrest on February 10, Nazim was given 15 days of remand detention by the Criminal Court. Police had raided the apartment on January 18, later claiming to have found a pistol, three bullets, and an improvised explosive device.

Additionally, a pen drive was said to have been found containing evidence of an attempt to harm senior government officials, in what the police have said was a plan to overthrow the government.

Posters have since appeared around Malé City with the slogan ‘Free Nazim Now’, while several prominent politicians as well as Amnesty International have expressed concern over his sudden arrest.

“The day before yesterday the defense minister was hailed and deemed trustworthy,” said Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson Ali Waheed speaking at a protest last week. “Now he is in a jail cell accused of crimes of a magnitude never seen before in Maldives”.

Nazim’s legal team said last night that the High Court has accepted two appeal cases filed by the legal team – one appealing Nazim’s arrest, with the second case appealing Criminal Court’s remand sentence.

The team has also announced that a defamation case had been submitted against the Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed for telling the press on January 29 that an explosive device was found during the raid.

The High Court appeal hearing is scheduled for 1.45pm today (February 16).

The legal team had previously claimed that the items found at Nazim’s house were planted by the Police, saying that officers spent 10 minutes inside Nazim’s bedroom unsupervised before the search began. Police have called the claims “untrue” and “baseless”.

Hameed also informed the media last night that the police had not responded to requests to share evidence against Nazim in order to allow the preparation of his defense, or for the items allegedly confiscated from his house to be investigated by an independent commission.

Also speaking at yesterday’s press conference, former Police Commissioner and member of Nazim’s defence Abdulla Riyaz reiterated his belief that some officers are following unlawful orders from politicians.

“I am saying this as an individual who has served  at the institution for over 20 years, no police officers should act in an unjust manner towards any individual,” said Riyaz.

The former police commissioner also highlighted issues with the search, saying that the police had not followed due procedures – claims the police have also denied repeatedly

“When conducting high profile searches, the Police always films the search,” said Riyaz. “However we have not been provided with a video footage of the search as of yet.”

Additionally, Riyaz suggested that if the police had found an improvised explosive device at his home, the area should have been evacuated, and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) and the fire and rescue services informed.

The MNDF yesterday said that it would begin providing security for Riyaz after an official request for protection last week.

“People are following me everywhere I go. I feel somewhat threatened. I have requested for security but MNDF are yet to grant me security,” Riyaz told Minivan News yesterday.

Related to this story

Former Defence Minister arrested on illegal weapons charge

Police accuse Nazim of plotting coup, planning to harm senior government officials

Pistol and explosive device found at Nazim’s home, says Police Commissioner

Police raid Defence Minister Nazim’s home in early hours