Detention of narcotics seller in Kulhudhuhfushi extended by 15 days

A 39-year-old accused of smuggling and selling narcotics on the island of Kulhudhuhfushi has had his detention extended by 15 days by the island’s magistrate court.

The man was arrested on the island on June 27 and the magistrate court initially extended his detention by 10 days at the time. Police caught him while he was receiving a box from a boat that travels between Malé and the island.

Police found him to be in possession of a large number of small packets used to pack illicit drugs in and three packets containing narcotics as well as other contraband. He had also tested positive for illegal drugs.


High Court overturns Magistrate Court ruling against Fulidhoo Council President

The High Court has overturned the island of Fulidhoo’s Magistrate Court ruling sentencing the island’s Council President Bushry Moosa to two months house arrest.

Bushry was sentenced to house arrest for his failure to be answerable to questions put forth by the Magistrate regarding a case against Fulidhoo Island Council.

After Bushry appealed the sentence at the High Court, the superior court overturned the Magistrate Court’s ruling on Sunday, stating that the case in question is not against Bushry as an individual, but against the council as an entity.

The High Court stated that although Bushry is the Council President, he cannot be answerable to the magistrate’s questions unless so mandated by law and regulation. It also noted that the sentence had been given after a letter had been submitted to the magistrate court informing that the council will notify them of a representative who will be answerable in the said case.

The superior court’s verdict further said that Bushry’s refusal to respond to the court’s queries cannot be considered contempt of court, or failure to abide by the judge’s orders.

It also said that if Bushry has been denied any remuneration or benefits due to the ongoing case, he has the right to submit it to the relevant court as a separate matter.

The superior court’s verdict was passed unanimously by the panel of three judges presiding on the case.


JSC lifts suspension of magistrate for Villingili, Gaaf Alif Atoll

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has lifted its indefinite suspension of the magistrate of Villingili Court in Gaaf Alif Atoll, almost four years since his suspension over alleged corruption.

According to local media, Magistrate Hassan Najeeb was indefinitely suspended in November 2009 after he was prosecuted for embezzlement of state funds.

Najeeb had allegedly approved payments for a set of bills submitted by three people for ferry trips between Villingili Island and Dhevvadhoo Island, which later turned out to be fake.

The JSC claimed on Sunday that the suspension was lifted after the High Court upheld the not-guilty verdict issued by the Criminal Court. It also claimed that the Prosecutor General had decided not to appeal the High Court decision in the Supreme Court.

Suspended judges

Currently, Chief Judge of the High Court Ahmed Shareef and Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baari Yusuf are serving indefinite suspensions issued by the state’s judicial watchdog.

Chief Judge Shareef was indefinitely suspended over a complaint filed against him a year ago. The suspension coincided with the Chief Judge’s decision to temporarily suspend the appeal case of former President Mohamed Nasheed – who is currently campaigning for re-election as the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s presidential candidate.

JSC Chair and Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed in a press conference held to announce that decision claimed the suspension was a “precautionary” measure while investigation of the complaint was proceeding.

“There are no legal grounds to stop looking into a complaint submitted [to the commission] or halt proceedings,” he said at the time.

The Chief Judge’s legal team subsequently challenged the JSC’s decision in the Civil Court, claiming that the decision contrasted with existing laws and had undermined the independence that a judge required in executing his legal duties.

Chief Judge Shareef’s lawyer Husnu Al Suood – who is currently the President of Maldives Bar Association and a former Attorney General – also pleaded the court to issue an injunction halting his suspension.

The Civil Court gave the injunction on July 11, ordering the JSC not to take any action against the suspended Chief Judge until it decided on the legality of his suspension.

Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baari Yusuf was meanwhile suspended by the JSC in February following a case filed by a female lawyer from the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office, who alleged Baari Yoosuf had sexually assaulted her.

More recently, the JSC decided not to suspend Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, who is currently under both police and JSC investigation following the circulation of sex videos apparently depicting the judge fornicating with unidentified foreign women.

Four members of the JSC voted in support of a motion to not suspend the Supreme Court Justice, due to “lack of evidence”.

Then JSC members including Gasim Ibrahim – the presidential candidate of the Jumhoree Party (JP) – and Attorney General Azima Shukoor raised doubts over the accuracy of the claims, in which Gasim contended that the sex-tape was “fake” while Shukoor maintained the case “needed more details”.

Following the inconsistencies within the JSC, commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahmaan alleged the JSC was discriminating between lower court judges and higher court judges and blasted the commission’s lack of consistency.

The country’s judiciary is currently being subjected to questions over its lack of impartiality and failure to deliver justice. A substantial amount of criticism is being levied against the JSC, which is mandated to oversee the functioning of the judiciary.

Several international experts and organisations including the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) have expressed concern over the state of the judiciary and the JSC.

In February 2011, the ICJ claimed that the Maldives legal system is failing to serve its citizens despite many “positive developments” that have been made in an effort to de-politicise the courts, with many judges found to be lacking qualifications and independence.

Former director of the ICJ’s Asia Pacific operation’s Roger Normand at the time said he did not believe that the Maldives had an “independent judiciary capable of resolving problems”.

A similar report by Professor Paul H Robinson observed that “persons with little or no legal training can hardly be expected to know how to conduct a fair and effective trial.”

“Serious efforts must be made to provide substantial training to current judges in order to insure that all have the background they need in both law and Sharia. Perhaps more importantly, no judge should be hired who does not already have the needed training,” he wrote.


Nasheed’s travel request denied by Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court

The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court has denied former President Mohamed Nasheed’s request to travel abroad for a family wedding.

According to a statement from the former President’s Office, Nasheed had requested to leave the Maldives from March 27 to March 31.

The request was denied by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, which stated that it was too close to President Nasheed’s next scheduled trial date on April 4.