MP’s police brutality hearing cancelled due to defendant’s absence

No additional reporting by missing journalist Ahmed Rilwan

Today’s hearing into the alleged assault of Mahchangolhi Uthuru MP Mariya Didi has been cancelled after the defendant’s failure to attend court.

Police officer Ibrahim Faisal is accused of assaulting the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP during the demonstration held on February 8, 2012, following the controversial change of power on February 7.

The MDP maintains the transfer of power to was an illegal, with the resignation of former President Nasheed having come under duress.

The hearing was cancelled today (October 12) when the accused failed to attend despite having received a summons sent to police headquarters.

The Criminal Court has rescheduled the hearing to be held on October 19. Mariya Didi confirmed to Minivan News that she has received summons from the Criminal Court to be present at the newly scheduled hearing.

Faisal has previously denied the charges against him, although another police officer has given a witness statement supporting the assault claims against Faisal.

Following the cancellation of today’s hearing, Mariya Didi held a press conference during which she expressed concern that the accused is allowed to continue working without suspension despite the serious charges lodged against him.

She said that she was worried about her safety after having appeared in court to testify against the officer.

“The man that the prosecutor general is prosecuting with evidence still remains in his position at work. And as I saw on that day, it was not just one individual police officer who assaulted me,” Mariya told the press.

“On both February 7 and 8 they attacked me as a group. Based on this, I am worried about the fact that he [Faisal] gets to stay on in his job,” she added.

Previous investigations into the events of February 8 by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives stated that the police crackdown of MDP supporters marching on February 8 was “brutal” and “without prior warning”.

An HRCM team visiting the MP while in detention after the February 8 march observed “bruises all over [Mariya’s] body and her eyes bloodied and swollen”.

In its concluding observations, the commission concluded that police officers “acted very harshly” towards the politicians “in ways that could cause physical and psychological harm” despite their having been no resistance on the part of the politicians.

Amnesty International also documented the assaults on both Mariya and fellow MDP MP Eva Abdulla in its September 2012 report titled, ‘The Other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives’.

The Criminal Court is also separately looking into a case of alleged brutality on MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik by police officer Mohamed Waheed of RosyVilla in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Thinadhoo.

In 2013, Amnesty released a statement saying that failure to prosecute police officers accused of human rights abuses and serious failings in the justice system entrenched impunity.

Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry – established by then President Mohamed Waheed to investigate the transfer of power – had taken note of “allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation”, calling for “investigations to proceed and to be brought to public knowledge with perpetrators held to account”.

Speaking in parliament on August 6, Attorney General Mohamed Anil stated that five cases involving four police officers accused of committing acts of brutality in February 2012 were ongoing at the Criminal Court.


Incumbents prevail in MDP primary

Eight of nine incumbent MPs who contested opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Majlis primaries on Saturday have won the party ticket.

Sitting MP for Henveiru Dhekunu Hamid Abdul Ghafoor only gained 47 votes and lost the party ticket to Malé City Council member Mohamed ‘Rukuma’ Abdul Kareem who won 328 votes.

Of the 85 People’s Majlis constituencies, 27 MDP candidates won the party ticket uncontested. The MDP had initially scheduled voting for the remaining 58 constituencies on Friday, but cancelled polls for 56 after administrative and voter registry issues. Polling was completed in only two constituencies on Friday.

The MDP rescheduled polling for 18 constituencies – including 10 of the 13 Malé city constituencies – and is to hold voting for the remaining 38 constituencies this week.

In Malé City, MP and party Chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik competed against former Minister of Youth, Human Resources and Sports Hassan Latheef, and won the ticket for the Hulhuhenveiru constituency.

MP Mariya Ahmed Didi won against former Judicial Services Commission member Aisthath Velezinee with 249 votes. Velezinee gained 75 votes.

People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid who currently represents Vaavu Atoll Keyodhoo constituency won the MDP’s ticket for Malé City’s Henveiru Uthuru constituency.

Malé MPs Eva Abdulla, Ali Azim, and Imthiyaz Fahmy won the MDP ticket without a primary.

In the atolls, MPs Rugiyya Ahmed, Mohamed Aslam, Ilyas Labeeb and Ahmed Hamza retained the party tickets for Mahibadhoo, Hithadhoo Uthuru, Hulhudhoo, and Bilehdhoo constituencies, respectively.

MP for Kaafu Atoll Thulusdhoo constituency Rozaina Adam won the party ticket for Addu Atoll Meedhoo constituency.

Non-incumbents who won the MDP primary are:

  • Malé City Council member Ibrahim Shujau for Galholhu Dhekunu in Malé
  • Former Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam for Maafannu Dhekunu in Malé
  • Malé City Council member Mohamed Falah for Maafannu Hulhangu in Malé
  • Former State Minister for Home Affairs Sheikh Hussein Rasheed for Vilimaafannu in Malé
  • Former MP Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail for Machangoalhi Dhekunu in Malé
  • Aishath Leena for Kulhudufushi Dhekunu in Haa Dhaal Atoll
  • Ibrahim Jihad for Meedhoo in Dhaalu Atoll

Leena is the wife of MP Ali Waheed and Jihad is MP Ahmed Hamza’s brother.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP’s election committee chair Ibrahim Waheed said polling had proceeded smoothly on Saturday.

He claimed members of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had attempted to hijack the MDP’s primary on Friday, by disrupting the vote claiming their names were not on the party register.

Waheed said the MDP received 12,000 new membership forms between December 10 and 19 – the deadline for registering new members to vote in the MDP Majlis primary.

Of the 12,000, over 4,000 forms were members of parties belonging to the ruling coalition. The MDP believes the new members were added to manipulate the vote and had decided not to accept forms of individuals who are registered with other parties, Waheed said.

The MDP received 50 complaints regarding the voter registry, and resolved 11 of them, he said. The complaints do not affect the results, he added.


Police arrest man on suspicion of assaulting Mariya Didi

A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of assaulting Maldivian Democratic Party MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, a year after the alleged assault took place.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told local media that the man was arrested on 4 March 2013 in relation to the assault that took place on 7 February 2012.

According to local media, police have been investigating the videos of the unrest that followed the controversial change of power in February 2012.

The police have been criticised by various institutions for a failure to investigate several incidents that took place on February 7 and 8, 2012.


MDP accuses Home Minister of influencing former President’s trial

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have accused Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel of attempting to influence an ongoing court case against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The party has previously alleged the charges against Nasheed – of illegally detaining Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in the final days of his presidency – are a politically-motivated attempt to prevent him competing in the upcoming election.

Jameel was reported in local media as stating that it was “crucial to conclude the case against Nasheed before the approaching presidential elections, in the interests of the nation and to maintain peace in it.”

Jameel, who served as Justice Minister under the tenure of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said that delaying the trial against Nasheed for “the abduction of a judge” risked “compromising national interest”.

He alleged the delay was due to “various reasons”, and would very likely have “adverse effects on the political and social fabric of the nation”.

“If things happen  this way, people will start believing that it was due to the failure to address some issues in the Maldives’ judicial system, which need to be looked into. And in my opinion, the courts will have to take responsibility for this,” Jameel said in his interview with news website Haveeru.

Expressing concern that it would be an “extremely worrisome matter” if people started speculating that the reason for the delay in prosecuting Nasheed was that the country’s judiciary was not performing to par, Jameel said, “Every single day that goes by without the case being concluded contributes to creating doubt in the Maldivian people’s minds about the judiciary.”

Jameel stated that the case has a direct relation to the interest of the upcoming elections since the arrest of Abdulla Mohamed was a criminal case which involved citizens’ rights, trust of the judiciary, as well as the the running of the state.

Stating that the conclusion of the case was imperative for the sake of maintaining peace in the country in the upcoming days, Jameel added that it was constitutionally mandated for all involved to find methods to expedite such cases.

Minister attempting to influence courts: MDP

Following Jameel’s remarks, former President Nasheed released a statement condemning “attempts by the sitting Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Mohamed Jameel, to exert undue influence on the courts over the trial against President Mohamed Nasheed.”

The statement further expressed concern that a representative of the government had made such remarks while it had failed to date to act upon the recommendations of international organisations, including the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), to reform the judicial system.

“Just days after Commonwealth envoy Sir Don McKinnon left the Maldives, Dr Jameel calls on the judiciary to sentence the MDP’s presidential candidate,” said former Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), MP Mariya Ahmed Didi.

“MDP members believe Sir Don’s silence on the issue of Nasheed’s prosecution emboldened the Home Minister to make his comments,” she said.

“Jameel’s call on the courts to sentence President Nasheed prior to the presidential elections adds to the impression that the charges are politically motivated. We urge the Home Minister to refrain from intimidating and exerting undue influence on the the judiciary,” she added.

Nasheed  has previously alleged that the objective of the trial was to obstruct him from contesting the upcoming presidential elections.

“The Prosecutor General’s only objective is to ensure that I cannot contest in the next presidential elections. To do so, he has identified an article which would provide just the required period of detention to cancel my candidacy,” Nasheed told an MDP rally in October 2012.

Nasheed is being tried under Article 81 of the Penal for the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Article 81 of the Penal Code states that it is a criminal offence for any employee of the state to use the constitutional powers to arrest vested on him to deliberately arrest a person who has not committed a crime. The article further details that the maximum penalty for this offence is either a jail sentence or banishment for a period of up to three years, or a fine of up to MVR 2000 (US$130).

Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was not responding to calls at the time of press.


MPs released from Dhoonidhoo but party members remain in detention: Solih

Five Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs who were arrested during yesterday’s peaceful march around Male’, including Mariya Ahmed Didi, Alhan Fahmy and Imthyaz Fahmy, were released from Dhoonidhoo Detention Centre at midnight last night.

MDP MP and parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said the MPs had been handcuffed since the time of their arrest between 4:00pm and 5:00pm yesterday, and their release at midnight. Didi has sustained injuries to her arms, back and face, he said.

Over 50 party members and citizens were admitted to the hospital yesterday with head injuries and bruises to their backs, arms and stomachs following yesterday’s march, which was reportedly attacked without provocation by police forces.

Party Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik was last evening reported to be in critical condition following the attack. In an interview given to local media Raaje TV from his hospital bed, where he was on a ventilator being treated for serious head injuries, Moosa claimed security forces “wanted to kill me.”

Speaking today to Minivan News, Solih said the doctor is examining Moosa’s injuries. “He is still in the same condition [as yesterday],” he said.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed also sustained injuries to his back, hands and head. He was kept in a safe house until some time last night, when he returned to his home in Male’.

MPs held in Dhoonidhoo have returned home, but more than 15 party members were believed to remain in Dhoonidhoo.

Solih said security forces have not been cooperative with providing information.

“They are not answering our calls, and didn’t even allow lawyers to go to Dhoonidhoo, saying their computer system was down. They continued to refuse lawyers access to the centre and later released the MPs,” he said.

Solih said the party is currently trying to get information about party members who may still be held in Dhoonidhoo.

Meanwhile, Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed has issued an arrest warrant for Nasheed and former Minister of Defense Tholhath Ibrahim.


Protests erupt after Nasheed claims resignation was ‘under duress’, and calls for Dr Waheed to step down

“I call upon Dr Waheed to immediately step down from the seat he is sitting in and call for immediate elections,” said former President Mohamed Nasheed during a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) National Council meeting at Dharubaruge this afternoon.

The council further rejected the now-forming national unity government’s invitation to join forces, and declaring Nasheed’s former government the only “legitimate” government said it would not negotiate with the opposing ruling body.

Nasheed spoke to hundreds of party supporters packed into the entire top floor of Dharubaruge, along with the sitting members of the national council. MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik chaired the meeting.

Declaring that “I will never back down until a lawful legitimate government is sworn in,” Nasheed called upon the chief justice to investigate the yesterday’s coup “and bring those responsible to justice.”

“We will never allow the national defense forces and the police to be hijacked by the opposition,” he said. “We will assure our key pledges of affordable housing, transport networks, closure of the doors opened towards narcotics, and bringing down the commodity prices.”

According to MDP, Nasheed was yesterday forced to resign by the military, which forced the state broadcasting station MNBC to revert to its identity Television Maldives (TVM) and threatened “a bloodbath in the capital” if Nasheed did not step down from the presidency.

The alleged coup arose out of three weeks of opposition-led protests calling for the release of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed who was arrested on January 16 after attempting to block his own police summons. Protesters declared the arrest a violation of human rights while members of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) accused Nasheed of acting unlawfully.

Following an all-night protest on February 6, under 100 police officers defected from their position as state security and assisted protesters in an attack on the then-ruling MDP camp, triggering a larger clash between police and Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) last morning which left many injured.

Following Nasheed’s resignation at 1:00 pm, former Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan was sworn into office yesterday at 3:00pm with the support of several opposition parties. He said he intends to fulfill Nasheed’s term until the scheduled presidential elections in 2013.

Meanwhile, members of Nasheed’s government have said they did not attend work today and are awaiting political appointment.

Gathering for the council meeting today at Dharubaruge, throngs of MDP supporters and members of the former government chanted for Nasheed upon his arrival, filling the building’s top floor and screaming in support as sitting council members declared resistance to Dr Waheed’s national unity government.

MP Alhan Fahmy, former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem and several party MPs said MDP would not negotiate with Dr Waheed’s government and declared that Nasheed “is still the legitimate president.”

Party President Dr Ibrahim Didi, who last night said on television that he supported cooperation with the new government, told the council, “I was misinterpreted by the media stating that I was open to the idea of a unity government but I only stated that I would decide after consulting the party council.”

Speaking from atop her chair at the front of the council MP Mariya Ahmed Didi declared yesterday’s events a coup and called on the council to accept that Nasheed’s administration had been elected by popular vote, but was overturned by a minority of the nation’s security forces.

Former State Minister for Foreign Affairs Aslam Shakir next proposed a resolution that the MDP rally for judicial reform, which was earlier scheduled for February 17, would proceed as planned. Many party supporters are due to arrive from islands for the event.

The council unanimously voted in favor of both resolutions.

The council further asserted that it does not recognise yesterday’s change of government, and that Nasheed and his ministers are still the legitimate ruling body in the eyes of MDP.

As the meeting drew to a close Nasheed said, “I call upon all of us to march to ‘Haruge’ [MDP camp] after this meeting and open it for it was the place where freedom of speech and expression originated.” Supporters exited the building chanting “long live Nasheed!” and made their way to the party camp.

Shortly after, MDP members clashed with some opposition supporters near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). MNDF forces were on their way to the scene at time of press, after the crowd had been four times pepper sprayed.

Nasheed was reported to be on the protest’s front lines.


“Do we really need political parties?”: Dr Mausoom

A bill on political parties presented to the parliament by the government yesterday triggered debate over the merits of the political system in the Maldives.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Abdulla presented the bill to the parliament on behalf of the government, with the stated aim of strengthen the democracy of the country and to provide a peaceful way to participate in political activities.

The bill contained aspects such as what a political party should and should not do and how members should be disciplined, how political parties can legally earn money and how a person can resign and join another political party.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom said that the country was “now in chaos because of the invention of political parties.”

”The peacefulness and unity among us has changed,’ ‘Mausoom said. ”The question in our hearts is: ‘Do we really need political parties?’.”

He proposed to amend the article 18 of the bill in the committee stage.

Independent MP Ahmed Amir said that the question on his mind was why MPs were not included in the list of people “who cannot be a member of any political party.”

Amir claimed that the majority of the population “does not support political parties in the country.”

“More than 50 per-cent of the population of above the age of 18 is not involved in any political party,” he said.

DRP MP Rozaina Adam said that now it was too late to make bills governing the conduct of political parties.

Rozaina proposed to add a article whereby the Elections Commission (EC) was obligated to provide places for political parties to hold their meetings.

”When the opposition tries to hold a meeting we don’t usually get a place,” she claimed. ”So I suggest we design the bill in a way that political parties would have to get permission from the EC to hold meetings and they provides a place.”

She said that she had noticed that the screening of private phone calls was now very popular.

”I see they regularly screen our private phone calls – I wonder if this would not be spying, a power that the government has,” she said. ”I wish that when the bill gets passed there would be a solution for these types of things.”

MDP Chairperson and MP Mariya Ahmed Didi said she recalled a time when political parties were not registered, on the assumption that the invention of a political party system would disperse society.

”But people sought in their own ways to express their opinions and raised their voice for a political party system,” she said, ”and after listening to their voices parliament made a law permitting parties.”

She said that independent MPs also work together as a political party.

”They also holds meetings among them and speak one word,” she said.

DRP MP Ahmed Mohamed said he was against party system “now and then.”

”Forming a political party in a such small country is like playing with fire,” Mohamed said.

”I say, we hold a vote to see if people like or dislike having political parties,” he said. ”Like other MPs have said, the majority of the population does not belong to any political party.”

”In a family, Mum, Dad and their kids are in different parties, so the unity among them gets ruined,” he said.