Ex Chief of Defence Forces ‘chaired military meeting’ ahead of Judge Abdulla’s arrest

Former Chief of Defence Forces Moosa Ali Jaleel chaired a military consultative council meeting requesting the military be brought to alert ahead of Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s arrest on January 16, 2012, a witness has said.

Jaleel, who was recently appointed as President Abdulla Yameen’s Defence Minister is charged with terrorism over the Criminal Court Chief Judge’s 22-day military detention, but had previously denied any involvement in the arrest, repeatedly stating he neither received nor gave any orders to arrest the judge.

However, then- Vice Chief of Defence Forces Farhath Shaheer last night told the Criminal Court that Jaleel had asked the council if the military alert status needed to be revised ahead of the judge’s arrest. Jaleel also told the council he was not seeking advice on the arrest, Farhath said.

Farhath said he does not remember if the minutes of the emergency meeting were recorded.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism over Judge Abdulla’s arrest on March 13, and sentenced to 13 years in jail. The trial has drawn international and domestic concern over apparent lack of due process.

Jaleel on March 7 led a ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) motorcycle rally calling for a swift sentence in Nasheed’s trial.

Jaleel previously told the Criminal Court the former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and then-Malé Area Commander Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi – currently opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP for mid-Hithadhoo constituency – were in charge of the operation to arrest Judge Abdulla.

The pair are also on trial on terrorism charges along with former Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Ziyad.

Jaleel had told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee in January 2013 that former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu usurped the army chief’s powers through a strategic defence directive (SDD), which required area commanders to answer directly to the defence minister.


Tholhath vowed not to release Judge Abdulla even if he were to be jailed for 30 years, says witness

Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu vowed not to release Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed even if he faced 30 years in jail as a consequence, a state witness testified at the then-defence minister’s trial on terrorism charges today.

Lieutenant Ali Ihusan, who served as Tholhath’s personal assistant, told the court that he heard the minister saying he would not release Judge Abdulla.

Following the arrest, Ihusan said Tholhath called Nasheed concerning orders to release Judge Abdulla from the High Court and was told to ignore and file the orders without the defence minister’s signature.

At the last hearing of his trial, Tholhath claimed the operation to arrest Judge Abdulla – dubbed ‘Liberty Shield’ – was initiated by Nasheed and carried out by then-Malé Area Commander Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, currently opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for mid-Hithadhoo constituency.

Both Nasheed and Didi are also on trial on charges of terrorism along with then-Chief of Defence Forces Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel – appointed President Yameen’s defence minister in January – and ex-Colonel Mohamed Ziyad.

Ihusan also said Didi was in charge of the operation and followed instructions from Tholhath and Nasheed.

However, Ihusan said he did not witness Tholhath issuing operational commands, noting that all orders were signed by Didi.

Operation Liberty Shield

Ihusan said he personally delivered two letters to Tholhath from then-Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh and then-Home Minister Hassan Afeef on January 16, requesting assistance from the military in arresting Judge Abdulla.

Tholhath asked Ihusan to provide copies to Jaleel, saying the letters “could save us one day,” Ihusan testified.

Ihusan also said there was a separate attachment with letters from Nasheed’s then-legal secretary, Hisaan Hussain, requesting an investigation of Judge Abdulla’s alleged obstruction of police.

Jaleel said at a hearing of his trial earlier this week that he participated in meetings between the heads of the police and military to discuss challenges posed to law enforcement and domestic security by the Criminal Court’s alleged release of dangerous criminals and refusal to grant search and arrest warrants to police.

Ihusan also revealed that a meeting with all senior military officers above the rank of colonel took place on January 15, 2012, a day before the chief judge’s arrest.

The state’s second witness, Colonel Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef said he participated in the top level meeting, but could not recall any discussions on detaining the judge.

The meeting was about assisting police operations and investigations, he testified.

Latheef said he visited Judge Abdulla at Girifushi Island five to six times, accompanying visitors including members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).

The colonel noted that Tholhath ordered him to be present at some of the meetings.

Latheef revealed that Tholhath himself visited the judge at the military training island, alongside several civilian visitors whom he could not recall.

Concluding tonight’s hearing, the judges said another hearing on the case would be scheduled tomorrow.

Chief of Defence Forces “Uninvolved”

At today’s hearing of former Chief of Defence Forces Jaleel’s trial, four state witnesses reportedly backed up the current defence minister’s claim that he was not involved in the judge’s arrest.

Both Ihusan and Colonel Latheef testified that Jaleel did not participate in meetings concerning the judge’s arrest and was not consulted by Tholhath.

Dr Ali Shahidh, a military doctor, Aishath Zeena, a psychologist, both of whom attended to the judge during his detention also testified to not receiving any orders from Jaleel.

While hearings of Jaleel, Tholhath, and Nasheed took place today, the Criminal Court did not schedule hearings for ex-Colonel Ziyad or MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi’s trials.

Didi was hospitalised on Sunday night after complaining of chest pains. His family told Minivan News yesterday that the retired general would be flown overseas as soon as doctor’s gave approval.

All five defendants have pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges. The charges were filed under Article 2(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1990, which criminalizes kidnappings, forced disappearances and abductions and carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked 22 consecutive nights of violent anti-government demonstrations that culminated in a police and military mutiny on the morning of February 7, 2012, forcing President Nasheed to resign in what he subsequently called a “coup d’etat.”

In January 2013, Tholhath told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee that Nasheed had not resigned “under duress.” However, Tholhath had previously claimed that Nasheed’s life was in danger on February 7, 2012 and that the former president had no choice but to resign.

Related to this story

Nasheed ordered Judge Abdulla’s arrest, says Tholhath

Judges Didi and Yoosuf refuse to step down from Nasheed’s terrorism trial

Nasheed denies ordering Judge Abdulla arrest, granted three days to answer charges

Chief Judge “took entire criminal justice system in his fist”: Afeef


Defense Minister Jaleel granted three days to appoint a lawyer in terrorism trial

The Criminal Court has granted Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel three days to appoint a lawyer and answer terrorism charges for his role in the 2012 military operation to detain Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Jaleel was the Chief of Defense Forces at the time of Judge Abdulla’s arrest. Following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012, Jaleel was dismissed from his post.

He subsequently signed on to the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives in 2013 and ran in the party’s parliamentary primaries in 2014.

Jaleel was appointed to the Defense Minister’s post after former defense minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Naizim was arrested and accused of possessing dangerous weapons last month.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed and his former Defense Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, are also facing the same charges under the terrorism act, and have been given three days to appoint a lawyer at the Criminal Court.

Nasheed’s lawyers have alleged the opposition leader has been denied the right to legal counsel and the right to appeal prior to the court hearing.