MP Ibrahim Didi pleads not guilty to terrorism charges

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, a retired brigadier general, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges at the first hearing of his trial at the Criminal Court yesterday.

The MP for mid-Hithadhoo constituency is facing terrorism charges along with former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim, former Chief of Defence Forces Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel (current defence minister) and retired Colonel Mohamed Ziyad over the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

At the first hearings of the trials – conducted separately – Judge Abdulla Didi gave all five defendants three days to appoint lawyers and answer the charges. MP Didi and Ziyad appeared for the first hearing of their trials yesterday (February 24).

After pleading not guilty, MP Didi – who was Malé Area Commander at the time of the judge’s detention – reportedly posed questions to the state prosecutors.

Describing the charges as “politically motivated,” Didi asked the prosecutors whether the state believed the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and its senior officials carried out terrorist activities.

The decorated veteran also asked whether his trial was being conducted in accordance with Islamic Shariah, and if so, under which school of the Sunni sect.

Asked to respond, the state prosecutor told the judge she would answer at the next hearing.

Didi also questioned whether the terrorism trial was his reward for risking his life in defence of the nation during the November 3, 1988 failed coup attempt by a group of Maldivians and Tamil mercenaries.

Didi – a corporal and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s bodyguard at the time – played a pivotal role on November 3 by carrying the keys of the armoury from Machangoalhi Kinbigasdhoshuge to the besieged military headquarters before soldiers ran out of ammunition.


MNDF celebrates anniversary with variety show

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) celebrated its 122nd anniversary with a variety show titled ‘Sifa Ufaa’ at the Kalhuthukkala Koshi barracks in Malé.

The show was held for three nights starting from Thursday, September 4 with President Abdulla Yameen attending on Saturday night (September 6).

The show featured comedy sketches and music from the Cops band as well as drama and dance items.

On the final night, Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim launched a soundtrack album of a film called ‘Haadharu’ under production by the MNDF.

According to the military, the film would be about security threats such as the attempted coup on November 3, 1988.


Sagaru Nasir freed after serving sentence

Ahmed ‘Sagaru’ Nasir, 60, was released from prison last week after serving a 25-year jail sentence for his part in the failed coup attempt in November 1988, reports local media.

While Nasir and his Maldivian accomplice Abdulla Luthfee were initially sentenced to death, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom commuted the sentence to 25 years in prison.

Nasir had reportedly been transferred to house arrest in 2009, but was taken back to jail in 2012 after being seen in public.

On November 3, 1998, a group of Tamil mercenaries led by Nasir and Luthfee attacked the capital and quickly took over the airport, killing 19 Maldivians, including 11 soldiers, before 1600 Indian paratroopers foiled the armed coup.

Luthfee meanwhile fled the country in 2009 after he was authorised to seek medical treatment in Sri Lanka. In 2012, police began searching for the fugitive.

Sri Lankan newspaper The Island reported Luthfee as saying on the 23rd anniversary of the November 3 coup attempt that he “wanted to get rid of Gayoom at any cost. As the election process in my country never gave a reasonable opportunity to the opposition, I felt an outside force should be used to oust Gayoom.”