Running mate of incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and Leader of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has settled a debt of MVR 1.9 million (US$ 124,513) owed to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, the Civil Court has announced.
Deputy Speaker Nazim filed a court case at the Civil Court in March 2011 against the DRP Leader to recover the money – which is the remnant of a loan worth MVR 2.55 million (US$200,000) given by him to Thasmeen.
In April 2011, the Civil Court ordered the then-opposition leader to pay back the sum to the court in installments within a period of six months until the repayment was complete.
Sitting Judge Hathif Hilmy also ordered Thasmeen to pay Nazim MVR 1,800 (US$140) incurred as lawyer’s fees, based on a rate of MVR 300 (US$19.45) per hearing. Nazim had however claimed MVR 100,000 (US$6,485.08) in compensation for lawyer’s fees.
Following the verdict, Thasmeen appealed the case at the High Court. The High Court upheld the Civil Court ruling but invalidated the order concerning the payment of lawyer fees. The case was presided by now-suspended-High Court Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef, Judge Abdulla Hameed and Judge Ali Sameer.
Despite the High Court ruling, Thasmeen had not paid the debt which forced Nazim to file another lawsuit in Civil Court requesting the court to enforce its previous verdict that was upheld by the High Court.
Civil Court subsequently issued a court order freezing the bank accounts of Thasmeen and withholding his passport – preventing him from leaving the country. During the hearings, Thasmeen’s lawyers told the court that they were preparing to appeal the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.
However, the Civil Court judge responded that the civil case would proceed until such a time when the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal.
In an announcement made on Wednesday (July 3), the Civil Court said that since Thasmeen has paid the court the sum of money, the court order freezing his bank accounts and withholding his passport will cease to have its effect.
Meanwhile former MP for Thimarafushi Constituency Mohamed Musthafa has filed a case at the Supreme Court requesting the apex court to declare the seat of Thasmeen in parliament vacant, over the unpaid debts.
As per the Maldivian constitution, “a person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a member of the [parliament] immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”
The former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP – who lost his own seat through a Supreme Court ruling over unpaid debts – said Thasmeen’s seat is already deemed vacant as he had failed to pay in accordance with the court order.
Musthafa contested that even if Thasmeen repays the money, he would still lose his seat.
The former MP filed the case on the same precedent that unseated him from his seat, where the Supreme Court in 2012 concluded that Musthafa was constitutionally ineligible to remain in the seat over his failure to pay the debts.
Should the Supreme Court rule in favour of Musthafa, apart from losing his seat Thasmeen would face serious complications in becoming the running mate of a presidential candidate since the same constitutional prerequisite – to not have a decreed debt that is not being paid as ordered by a court – applies to those contesting for the position of president and vice president.