PG, presiding judges among state witnesses, reveals Nasheed’s legal team

The Prosecutor General (PG) and two of the three judges presiding over former President Mohamed Nasheed’s trial on terrorism charges are among the state’s witnesses in the case against the opposition leader.

Documents sent by the court at 11:30am yesterday (February 24) contained witness statements from PG Muhthaz Muhsin, Judge Abdulla Didi and Judge Abdul Bari Yusuf, revealed Hassan Latheef from the former president’s legal team.

“This is a clear violation of Islamic Sharia and law and also international judicial principles. The prosecution, witnesses and the judge cannot be the same person or same parties,” Latheef said.

PG Muhsin – a former Criminal Court judge – filed terrorism charges against Nasheed, his former defence minister and senior officers of the military over the controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Nasheed’s secretariat also released a statement today suggesting that “the conflict of interest that arises from the deliberation of a trial by both the prosecutor and the witness is blatant.”

In counter-statement, the PG office noted that while all documents, including all the witness statement obtained by the police, were forwarded to the court, “no witnesses or evidence have so far been presented to the court regarding the case.”

Despite repeated attempts by Minivan News to seek clarification, PG Office Media Officer Adam Arif was unavailable for comment due to scheduled appearances at court.

Meanwhile, Nasheed’s legal team has appealed the Criminal Court’s arrest warrant at the High Court.

Nasheed’s legal team member Hisaan Hussain also confirmed that all lawyers representing the former president – including Ibrahim Riffath, Ahmed Abdulla Afeef, Abdulla Shaairu and herself – have also been registered at the court this afternoon.

On Monday (February 23), the Criminal Court informed Nasheed’s lawyers that they had to register at the court two days in advance despite being unaware of the trial until the former president’s arrest the previous day.

Former Human Resource Minister Hassan Latheef will not be representing Nasheed at the trial as he had provided a witness statement to the authorities regarding the arrest of the judge.

The second hearing of Nasheed’s trial is scheduled for tomorrow night (February 26) at 8:00pm.

The PG’s office withdrew charges against Nasheed on February 16 after initially filing charges under Article 81 of penal code for detaining a government employee who has not been found guilty of a crime.

Hours before his arrest on Sunday (February 22), Nasheed was charged under Article 2(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1990, which criminalises kidnappings and abductions and carries a jail term between 10 and 15 years.

Nasheed’s lawyers yesterday named two of the three judges overseeing the terrorism trial as witnesses for the defence, and requested the pair’s recusal from the bench.

The former president’s lawyers stated that the two judges witnessed a conversation between Judge Abdulla Mohamed and military officers on January 16, 2012, and could testify that he had not been kidnapped.

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PPM MP Musthafa calls on PG to withdraw charges against Nasheed

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Mohamed Musthafa has called Prosecutor General Muthaz Muhsin to withdraw terrorism charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The MP for Thaa Thimarafushi told newspaper Haveeru yesterday that there were no legal grounds to raise terrorism charges against the opposition leader.

The military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed could not be an act of terrorism, the pro-government MP said.

Moreover, the “whole country should be ashamed” of the police manhandling Nasheed outside the court building on Monday, he added.

However, Musthafa denied rumours that he would be joining the Jumhooree Party.

Formerly an outspoken member of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Musthafa defected to the PPM shortly after last year’s parliamentary election.


Ex defense minister’s wife charged with illegal weapons possession

Former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim’s wife has been charged with the illegal possession of weapons and arms, lawyers have confirmed.

Afaaf Abdul Majeed has been summoned to a first hearing at the Criminal Court on February 25, at 4:00pm, despite having received no indication she was under suspicion for possessing illegal weapons, lawyer Maumoon Hameed said.

“Afaaf has received a summons. But we have not received any additional information other than what was provided on the summons. We do not even know which laws the state is charging her under. We are yet to receive the court documents,” he said.

Hameed said Afaaf had been questioned over the controversial discovery of a pistol, bullets and an improvised explosive device at the former Defense Minister’s residence on January 18, but the police had not questioned her again afterwards.

“Apart from the statements police took from all family members during the alleged discovery of weapons from Nazim’s residence, no other investigative processes involving Afaaf has taken place.”

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Spokesperson Adam Arif declined to comment on the case. Meanwhile, a Criminal Court Spokesperson was unable to confirm if the PG had filed charges against Nazim and his wife.

Nazim is currently in police custody over terrorism and treason charges. The Maldives Police Services said the former minister had been plotting to overthrow President Abdulla Yameen’s administration and was planning to harm senior government officials.

Nazim’s lawyers say the weapons were planted at his house and say he is being framed.

According to lawyers, Specialist Operations (SO) officers forced open Nazim’s door in the early hours of the morning on January 18, gathered Nazim, his wife and two children in the sitting room, and spent at least ten minutes without independent oversight in the then-minister’s bedroom. Shortly afterwards, investigative officers arrived on the scene, checked Nazim’s bedroom in his presence and discovered the weapons in a bedside drawer.

The police insist they were unaware whose house they were raiding.

Nazim was dismissed as Defense Minister on January 20, and subsequently declared no citizen was safe in the Maldives. He was arrested days after the police filed charges at the Prosecutor General’s office.

The Criminal Court on February 11 remanded Nazim for 15 days. The High Court upheld the detention on February 19.

Lawyers are appealing the police’s search warrant at the High Court.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed, also arrested for terrorism charges yesterday (February 22), and Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim have repeatedly called for Nazim’s immediate release from custody, accusing the government of “framing” the former minister.

Opposition parties have described Nasheed and Nazim’s arrest as President Abdulla Yameen’s efforts to silence opposition voices and to disqualify presidential contenders.

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Further pursuit of Nasheed case not in public interest: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called on the state to drop the criminal charges against former president and party leader Mohamed Nasheed.

Describing the charges against Nasheed as the reason for many “unjust obstacles to the party and President Nasheed”, the MDP said that the pursuit of the case any further would not reflect “public interests” but rather “serves political agendas” of the government.

Charges pending in the Hulhumalé Magistrates’ Court regarding the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 were withdrawn yesterday (February 17) by the Prosecutor General’s Office for further review.

PG Media Officer Adam Arif told Minivan News today that the office had informed the court that the charges had been withdrawn, requesting the case files be sent back. He did not provide any further details.

Under the powers granted in the Prosecutor General’s Act and the Constitution, the PG has the authority to discontinue or withdraw for further review any case prior to judgement.

Nasheed’s legal team had been in the process of challenging the assembly of the Hulhumalé Court bench in the Civil Court. Similar cases against the controversial court had seen Nasheed’s case stalled since April 2013.

“As President Mohamed Nasheed is a politician who continuous to receive support and love from a substantial portion of the Maldivian population, the decision to continue pursuing the case against public interests cannot be anything but an act of ridicule against the Maldivian people”, said the MDP statement today.

Minivan News was still awaiting a statement from Nasheed’s legal team at the time of publication.

Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s detention in January 2012 followed the failure of repeated attempts to investigate the judge’s conduct, with Nasheed citing grounds of national security for the decision.

The judge’s arrest by security forces led to an increase in tension on the streets of the capital, culminating in Nasheed’s resignation on February 7 after elements of the police and Maldives National Defence Force refused to obey his orders.

The Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report – released in August 2012 – found that the arrest had been “unconstitutional” and “illegal”, while the PG filed charges the previous June.

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PG withdraws charges against Nasheed

Charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed for the 2012 detention of Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed have been withdrawn.

The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office has withdrawn the case against both Nasheed and senior figures of his government – including the current defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel, says media reports.

Speaking to Vnews during a protest outside the High Court hearing of former defense minister Mohamed Nazim this afternoon, Nasheed said that it was regrettable the case had dragged on so long.

Details of the decision will be revealed by the PG’s information officer, who was understood to be in the court at the time of publication. Nasheed’s legal team has said a statement will follow its own discussions with the PG.

Under the powers granted in the Prosecutor General’s Act and the Constitution, the PG has the authority to discontinue or withdraw for further review any case prior to judgement.

Nasheed and Jaleel stood accused of violating Article 81 of the Penal Code, for detaining a government employee who has not been found guilty of a crime.

Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party had suggested that the case was being expedited ahead of the introduction of the new Penal Code in April, with the potential three year sentence meaning that conviction would have ruled out a Nasheed presidential run in 2018.

The former president’s legal team had been in the process of challenging the assembly of the Hulhumalé Magistrates’ Court bench.

Abdulla Mohamed’s detention in January 2012 followed the failure of repeated attempts to investigate the judge’s conduct, with Nasheed citing grounds of national security.

The judge’s arrest by security forces led to an increase in tension on the streets of the capital, culminating in Nasheed’s resignation on February 7 after elements of the police and Maldives National Defence Force refused to obey his orders.

The Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) report – released in August 2012 – found that the arrest had been “unconstitutional” and “illegal”, while the PG filed charges the previous June.

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Police and PG’s Office announce regulations for faster prosecutions

New regulations to speed up investigations and prosecutions have been announced by the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office and the Maldives Police Services (MPS).

Specified cases will now be prosecuted within seven days, with police saying that the measures would “reduce the number of repetitive offenders” as criminal cases can now be prosecuted within the time frame of the initial remand period.

In a joint press conference held today (February 15) Police Superintendent Hamdhoon Rasheed explained that the regulation enacted on January 4 will apply to five types of cases.

These will include cases in which: the accused confesses to the crime; witnesses and video/photo evidence clearly identify the accused and the crime; there is forensic evidence and witnesses; there is two clear witness statements; there is a police witness.

The cases in which the accused confesses to the crime and the cases in which police personnel are witnesses will be prosecuted within 3 days, while other three types of cases will be prosecuted within 7 days.

The PG’s Office representative at the conference, Information Officer Adam Arif, stated that the new regulations have so far been applied to 20 cases.

Of these, he explained that eight are in court, seven have been put on hold, three require further clarification, one suspect was given leniency given for first time offenders, while the PG decided to dismiss another case.

In answering queries regarding the cases the seven cases that have been put on hold, Arif said that they had involved offenders who are currently under the drug rehabilitation programme, mandated by the drug court,or under trial in that court.

“According to drug court regulations and rehabilitation policies, these cases have to be put on hold until the drug court decides on the continuation of their rehabilitation programme or on the cases lodged against them,” said Arif.

In response to questions regarding potential weaknesses in the cases due to the speeding up of the investigation and prosecution process, Arif stated that the regulation applies to considerably small offences.

“We believe this will facilitate justice by speeding up the judicial process. We do not think this will weaken the investigation or the prosecution process,” Arif stated.

Recent moves to have also been made to speed up the appeals process, with the time allotted for appeals from lower courts reduced to 10 days – from the usual 90 (180 for cases from the atolls).

The Supreme Court has said that the move to expedite proceedings will ensure the constitutional right to hearing within a reasonable time, though critics have argued the new regulations effectively remove the legal right of appeal.

Nazim case

When asked during the conference today about whether the case of former Minister of Defence and National Security Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim had been sent to the PG’s Office by police, Superintendent Hamdhoon noted that “his case is serious and related to terrorism”, and that these regulation did not apply to his case.

While neither the office itself nor police have provided any confirmation on whether Nazim’s case has been sent to the PG, his legal team has reported that police told the Criminal Court during a remand hearing on February 10 that the case had been sent to the PG on February 9.

Nazim’s legal team noted that the police had said, under oath, that some forensic processes had not yet been completed despite the case being sent to the PG.

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ACC sends Rathafandhoo Island Council corruption case to PG

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has submitted a case against Gaaf Dhaal Rathafandhoo council President Ahmed Fauzee and three others to the Prosecutor General’s Office.

Haveeru reported that the commission has accused Fauzee and three others of using the influence of their positions while assigning security work, suggesting that the members of the proposal evaluation committee had allocated points in violation of set standards.

According to the paper, an ACC statement explained that documents and testimonies collected during investigations proved the accused had acted in violation of the State Finance Act to provide unlawful benefit to a third party.

The others implicated alongside Fauzee are Fathuhulla Basheer, Abbas Haneef, and Fathuhulla Ahmed – all members of the proposal evaluation committee.

Source: Haveeru


Six senior government officials abused power in drug kingpin’s temporary release, says ACC

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has recommended charges be filed against six senior government officials for the temporary release of convicted drug kingpin Ibrahim Shafaz Abdul Razzak in February.

Former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Hanim personally paid a visit to a doctor at their home to obtain a signature claiming Shafaz required urgent medical care abroad.

However, the ACC found no evidence to suggest Shafaz required urgent treatment or care unavailable in the Maldives. Shafaz had not consulted a doctor at all in the week before his release.

Hanim, who is now the deputy minister of environment, also oversaw the illegal preparation of Shafaz’s travel documents and allowed him to leave the country without obtaining approval from the Maldives Correctional Service’s (MCS) medical board.

The investigations also revealed former Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim lobbied the medical board to approve Shafaz’s release despite knowing his paperwork was incomplete.

In addition to Hanim and Azim, the ACC has recommended corruption charges be filed against two members of the medical board, a technical officer at Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) and a staff of the MCS.

Shafaz was caught in Sri Lanka in May in a joint operation by the Maldivian and Sri Lankan security forces when he failed to return to the Maldives in the three-month period he had been given.

The Criminal Court had in November 2013 sentenced the 30-year-old to 18 years in prison and had levied a fine of MVR75,000 (US$4,860) for drug trafficking.

Deputy Minister’s abuse of power

According to the MCS’s regulations, an inmate can only be allowed abroad for medical treatment if two doctors attest that the inmate requires urgent care that is not available in the Maldives.

The MCS’ medical board must then review the doctors’ referrals before endorsing the release.

According to the ACC, Chief Superintendent of Malé Prisons Mohamed Thaufeeg, on Hanim’s request, illegally entered the medical section and printed the forms required for Shafaz’s release.

Thaufeeq had entered the medical section’s premises in the absence of the officer in charge.

Hanim and Thaufeeq then paid a personal visit to a doctor at their home on February 2 to obtain signatures. Local media have identified the doctor to be Indian national Dr Ganga Raju.

The forms require signatures of two doctors, but a senior technical officer at IGMH, Abdulla Rafiu, filled in the second slot.

Hanim sent a letter to the Department of Immigration ordering Shafaz’s travel documents be prepared although such letters must in fact be sent by the individual who heads the Home Ministry’s Implementation Section.

The letter was prepared and dispatched before the medical board and the Commissioner of Prison’s approved Shafaz’s release.

When the head of the Implementation Section refused to allow Shafaz to leave Maafushi Jail on February 5, Hanim himself authorized the release.

According to the ACC, Hanim attempted to complete the paperwork only after Shafaz left the country.

Medical board’s role

The medical board met on February 4 to review Shafaz’s request for temporary release.

The board noticed only one doctor had signed his forms and that the forms did not provide details on Shafaz’s medical conditions or the type of treatment he was to receive abroad.

However, Azim assured the board that the proper paperwork would be submitted at the next meeting. Board members, Maldives Police Services Chief Inspector of Police Dr Mohamed Fazneen Latheef and Home Ministry’s Deputy Director General Ishaq Ahmed, supported the inmate’s release.

Fazneen admitted to the ACC that the medical board had not released any inmate without complete paperwork in the past, and said he believed he had failed to uphold the board’s stringent standards in supporting Shafaz’s leaving the country.

Azim only signed the medical board’s final approval after Shafaz had left.

Shafaz was arrested on June 24, 2011, with 896 grams of heroin from a rented apartment in a building owned by ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem.

Former head of the Drug Enforcement Department, Superintendent Mohamed Jinah, told the press at the time that police had raided Henveiru Fashan based on intelligence information gathered in the two-year long ‘Operation Challenge’.

Jinah labeled Shafaz a high-profile drug dealer suspected of smuggling and supplying drugs since 2006.

He claimed that the network had smuggled drugs worth MVR1.3 million (US$84,306) to the Maldives between February and April 2011.

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PG submits Thinadhoo terrorism cases for the second time

Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin has submitted terrorism charges against 89 individuals from Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo Island for the second time.

Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla first threw out the Thinadhoo cases on Saturday (November 22) after state prosecutors failed to attend a hearing scheduled for 10am.

Mushin resubmitted the cases yesterday, but the Judge Abdulla refused to accept the cases claiming he was uncertain if state prosecutors would cooperate with the trial.

The PG office submitted a letter assuring Judge Abdulla of their cooperation, and has appealed his decision to reject the case at the High Court.

The 89 are accused of setting fire to government buildings on Thinadhoo following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012.

Judge Abdulla had last week ordered 55 of the 89 defendants be held in detention pending the outcome of the trials, claiming the accused were intimidating witnesses. All have since been released.

Nasheed has called on Muhsin to respect the judge’s decision stating: “Abdulla Mohamed has decided the case is invalid. When the prosecutor general submits the same cases to his desk again saying he has the power and authority of the state, that is an affront to the rule of law and courts.”

The former president also said that the military’s detention of the judge during his tenure was “wrong”.