Raajje TV barred from Criminal Court, accused of threatening judge

The Criminal Court has accused opposition-aligned Raajje TV of threatening Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf and has barred the station’s journalists from attending court hearings.

A Raajje TV journalist and cameraman were briefly detained last night around midnight after they videotaped an alleged meeting between Judge Bari and Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin at Café Layaali in Malé.

“Raaje TV has been barred from attending hearings because they are spreading lies about judges, meddling in judges personal affairs and engaging in actions that may harm judges,” a Criminal Court official told local newspaper Haveeru today.

Judge Yoosuf sits on a three-judge panel overseeing a series of high profile cases, including terrorism trials against former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, and an illegal weapons trial against former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

Raajje TV has declined to comment on the matter, stating they have not yet received official communication of the Criminal Court’s decision.

Nasheed’s lawyers had previously asked Judge Bari and Muhsin, also a former Criminal Court judge, to excuse themselves from the case, arguing the pair had a conflict of interest as they had provided witness statements during a 2012 investigation into their colleague’s arrest.

Judge Abdulla had called Judge Bari on receiving news of his impending arrest, while Muhsin had been at Judge Abdulla’s home during the arrest, witness statements reveal.

The defence team has now called Muhsin to the witness stand. Meanwhile, Judge Bari has refused to step down from the bench, claiming judges could choose between adjudicating or testifying.

According to a Raajje TV editorial staff who wished to remain anonymous, Muhsin and Yoosuf were sitting at the same table smoking shisha last night. The alleged meeting took place hours after the seventh hearing of Nasheed’s terrorism trial.

“Our staff only videotaped the meeting. Muhsin walked away the second they started asking questions,” he said.

Mushin, however, has denied meeting Bari, and said he would resign from the prosecutor general’s post if the meeting could be proven. He said the judge was already at the café when he went there for a private meal with his family members.

“Most of the cafés are crowded with politicians these days. Layaali is one of the few places you could go and enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. That’s why I went there, but I wasn’t with Bari,” Muhsin told Minivan News today.

The TV crew had not even recognised him as they were solely focused on videotaping Judge Bari, the PG added.

“The crew were right next to me. But I don’t even think they recognised me. Because they didn’t videotape me, they were taping Bari who was sitting at another table. I don’t know why they would accuse me of such a thing. Anyone there would clearly see that I was sitting with a separate group of people and Judge Bari was sitting at another table,” he said.

According to the Raajje TV staff, when Muhsin left the café, Bari demanded to know who the crew members were. Café staff then ordered the crew to erase footage.

“Bari also ordered the crew to confiscate the camera but our crew resisted,” he said.

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Assad arrived at the café shortly afterwards with a group of young men and forced the cameramen to delete the footage, he said.

The crew “got away unharmed” because of their security guards, he said. Specialist Operations (SO) police officers then arrested the crew escorted them to the police HQ.

The police conducted body searches and took statements from the crew. They were released afterwards.

A police spokesperson insisted Raajje TV crew members had not been arrested, but detained briefly for videotaping in Café Layaali without the owner’s permission.

In 2013, the watchdog Judicial Service Commission suspended Judge Bari for over a year pending the outcome of a complaint lodged against him for alleged misconduct.

Although the commission did not reveal any details of the complaint, local media reported that a female attorney from the Prosecutor General’s Office had alleged that Bari had sexually assaulted her.

Bari was cleared of the allegations and resumed duty at Criminal Court on July 24, 2014.

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Nasheed contests credibility of police and military witnesses in terrorism trial

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has contested the credibility of police and military officers as state witnesses in a terrorism trial over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

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.”

The opposition leader, who has denied ordering the arrest of Judge Abdulla, contended the role of the police and military officers in his February 2012 ouster and Judge Abdulla’s arrest raised questions over their credibility.

Chief Inspectors of Police Ahmed Shakir and Mohamed Jamsheed testified at a third hearing last night, and claimed Nasheed —in a meeting with senior police officers on January 18— had said he would not allow Judge Abdulla within 100 feet of the courthouse.

The Criminal Court blocked Nasheed’s lawyers’ attempts to determine credibility of witnesses, at times ordering lawyers to focus on the content of the statement rather than the identity of the witness or the level of their involvement in the events of February 7.

Presiding Judge Abdulla Didi said judges would decide how much weight each witnesses’ statement would carry.

The three judge panel—Didi, Abdul Bari Yoosuf and Sujau Usman—also refused to revise its ruling to keep Nasheed in police custody until the end of the trial.


Shakir told the court Nasheed in the January 2012 meeting had said Judge Abdulla was destroying the criminal justice system, and undermining the judicial watchdog Judicial Services Commission (JSC) by disobeying its orders, and would bar him from within 100 meters of the courthouse.

A visibly nervous Jamsheed, however, first said he had also heard Nasheed say he would order the arrest of Judge Abdulla at the meeting with police officers.

When Nasheed’s lawyers pointed out the January 18 meeting had taken place after the judge’s arrest, Jamsheed said he had heard Nasheed say the judge must be isolated.

Lawyer Abdulla Shaairu then questioned Jamsheed on his whereabouts on February 7, whether he had been active inside or outside the police head quarters, and when he had received a promotion from Inspector to Chief Inspector.

When state prosecutors objected to the questions, Shaairu said the defence must determine if witnesses had any animosity towards Nasheed, given their role in the events leading up to his resignation.

Judge Yoosuf then directly asked Jamsheed whether he harboured any animosity towards Nasheed, and defence lawyers immediately objected to the bench’s questions, saying judges were “putting words in the witnesses’ mouths.”

Judge Didi dismissed the defence’s claim, saying judges regularly posed questions to witnesses.


Lawyer Ibrahim Riffath appealed to judges to release Nasheed from detention, stating the High Court had rejected the former president’s appeal of the Criminal Court’s decision to deny him bail.

Despite lawyer’s assurances to the contrary, the Criminal Court said they feared Nasheed may abscond from trial and rejected the request.

Nasheed was denied legal representation during his first hearing. He was arrested on February 22, and his trial under new charges of ‘terrorism’ began the next day.

Speaking to the press outside, lawyer Hisaan Hussain said the High Court threw the appeal out, claiming the Criminal Court’s detention ruling was in fact a court summons.

In a statement before the trial began, the lawyers expressed concern over inadequate time to prepare their case. In a March 2 hearing, the legal team requested 30 days to mount a credible defence, but judges gave them one day.

The Criminal Court, however, has argued Nasheed’s team has had case documents for three years, as the new terrorism charges are based on the same documents as a previous arbitrary detention charge, now withdrawn.

The statement also noted the judges’ refusal to withdraw from the bench on the March 2 hearing, despite their involvement on the scene during Judge Abdulla’s arrest and involvement as witnesses during the police and Human Rights Commission investigation.

The next hearing is to be held at 9pm tonight.

Related to this story

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

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