Supreme Court takes over Civil Court case on legitimacy of transfer of power

The Supreme Court has taken over a case filed at the Civil Court by dismissed Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed, who had requested a ruling declaring that the transfer of power on February 7, 2012 was illegitimate.

The Supreme Court ordered the lower court last week to suspend its proceedings and send over the case files before 3:00pm on Thursday (May 23). The court order (Dhivehi) stated that the apex court would determine whether the Civil Court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court order was issued following a request by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for the Supreme Court to decide on the question of jurisdiction.

At the first hearing of the Civil Court case, the AGO requested proceedings be halted pending a ruling from the Supreme Court. However, the judge decided to proceed with the hearing in the absence of a court order by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court order was revealed today by the recently launched official twitter account of the Civil Court.

Dhiyana Saeed – also former SAARC Secretary General and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s first Attorney General – had first submitted the case to the High Court, which however decided that it was outside the appeal court’s jurisdiction.

The case was filed at the Civil Court earlier this month.

The defendant in Dhiyana’s lawsuit was Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who recently defected from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and is currently campaigning for former President Nasheed.

Nasheed resigned in the wake of a violent mutiny by Special Operations (SO) police officers, who assaulted government supporters, ransacked the ruling party Haruge (meeting hall), protested at the Republic Square, clashed with the military, vandalised the police headquarters and stormed the state broadcaster on the morning of February 7.

Saeed’s lawsuit noted that Shahid was the state official with the authority under article 121 of the constitution to declare the office of the president vacant, should an incumbent president resign or vacate the office.

“It was the Speaker of Parliament who declared the office of president vacant, be it had he done it knowingly, mistakenly or unknowingly,” Saeed told newspaper Haveeru. “This doesn’t mean Shahid committed a criminal offense. It also does not mean that he partook in the events or that he made the decision [maliciously].”

She contended that Speaker Shahid had failed to look into the circumstances surrounding Nasheed’s resignation before accepting the letter.

Saeed told Minivan News that she and her co-counsels “stopped short of asking for Nasheed’s reinstatement,” adding that she did not have “the locus standi to ask for a particular relief.”

“If the ruling comes in our favour, it might be possible for Nasheed to institute a second proceeding for reinstatement. As far as this case is concerned, our interest is in the rule of law and invoking constitutional process to uphold the legal order as stipulated by the constitution,” Saeed explained at the time.

Supreme Court intervention

Meanwhile, in her report to the United Nations Human Rights Council following a visit to the Maldives, UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul observed that it was “troublesome that some of the Supreme Court’s interventions are perceived as arbitrary and as serving the judges’ own personal interests.”

“Moreover, the Supreme Court is said to have taken away cases directly from the superior courts before they were adjudicated, without explaining which criteria or procedures were applied,” Knaul wrote.

The Supreme Court has on a number of occasions issued writs of mandamus taking over cases from lower courts. In November 2012, the Supreme Court instructed the High Court to suspend proceedings on an appeal by former President Nasheed concerning the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

At the same time, the apex court ordered the Civil Court to send over all files on a case submitted by a lawyer, Ismail Visham, disputing the legal status of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

The Supreme Court also intervened in litigation concerning a border control project awarded to Malaysian mobile security firm Nexbis.

Transfer of power

Following her dismissal from the cabinet by President Dr Mohamed Waheed last year, Saeed released a personal memoir alleging that Nasheed’s political rivals had conspired to assassinate him.

Saeed alleged that the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7 was the result of a premeditated and well-orchestrated plan, and questioned the findings of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), which concluded that Nasheed had resigned voluntarily.

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee commenced a review of the CoNI report and heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the security services at the time of the transfer of power.

Following its inquiry, Committee Chair MP Ali Waheed claimed that the report produced by CoNI was “flawed” based on the findings of the committee.

The CoNI report lacked “key information [senior police and military officers] had given” while “others claimed their information was wrongly presented,” the MDP MP said at the time.


Summary: Testimony of former police chief superintendent to Government Oversight Committee

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the police and military for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012. Minutes of the closed-door sessions (Dhivehi) along with audio recordings were made public on January 16, 2013.

Following is a translated summary of the testimony from former Chief Superintendent of Police Mohamed Jinah to the oversight committee on January 11, 2013. Jinah, then head of the Drug Enforcement Department (DED), was sacked from the police service two days later.

On the night of February 6, 2012, Jinah arrived at the police headquarters around 10:30pm. As he was due to leave the country for medical purposes the following night, Jinah went to finalise administrative matters concerning his leave of absence.

Jinah went up to the executive room on the fifth floor to find Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed, who was then head of police intelligence. Hameed was there with other intelligence officers monitoring live CCTV footage from the artificial beach.

Jinah saw opposition protesters and ruling party supporters facing off and throwing rocks at each other. Hameed was upset with the withdrawal of riot police.

Jinah stepped out to the foyer and met Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh. The commissioner informed him that President Mohamed Nasheed had ordered the Specialist Operations (SO) officers to be withdrawn. Jinah told the commissioner that “something big” must have happened for the president to issue such a command.

Hearing a loud commotion, Jinah went downstairs and saw SO officers filing into Republic Square. They were shouting and gathering at the helipad area.

Jinah began working with intelligence chief Hameed to find out what was happening. They soon learned that rogue SO officers had assaulted government supporters at the artificial beach and ransacked the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP’s) Haruge (meeting hall).

Upon learning that the military was preparing to arrest the rogue police officers, Jinah warned the police deputy commissioners of dire consequences should a violent confrontation occur between the security services. Jinah advised approaching the protesting police “professionally and wisely” to negotiate. However, none of the senior officers had command and control at the time and Commissioner Faseeh was inside military headquarters.

Jinah saw soldiers form ranks and prepare to charge only to withdraw every time, appearing reluctant to confront the mutinying police. “I did not fully believe even then that the soldiers didn’t know how or were unable to do it.”

At 7:30am, Jinah and Hameed called Faseeh and attempted to arrange a meeting with the SO commanders at the commissioner’s office. A senior SO officer named Ahmed Abdul Rahman was to be present as a witness.

While the communications were ongoing, Jinah heard clashes erupt at the Republic Square and saw from the foyer window tear gas canisters being thrown. The mutinying police clashed with soldiers. During the confrontation, some soldiers joined the mutiny.

Jinah and Hameed were at the conference room when they heard loud clamouring from inside the headquarters. When they stepped outside, Jinah saw a group of officers holding back the door to the (executive) officer’s block.

“They were blocking the door and said [the mutinying officers] were coming threatening to kill.” The junior officers vowed that the mutinying police would have to kill them to enter the conference room.

“I said, ‘you don’t have to die. They don’t have to die either. What is this talk of dying? Open the door.’ Then when I asked a bit angrily they opened the door.”

Mutinying officers outside were claiming that MDP activists had killed a police officer and set fire to several buildings. Jinah learned later that none of the claims were true. But at the time an officer was crying and claiming that an iron rod was shoved into the victim’s neck.

“The way he said it a police officer was speared like a fish. So the boys gathered there were enraged.”

A group of SO officers then forcibly dragged Jinah and Hameed away, shoving and beating the senior officers. Jinah noticed that a junior officer named Shifau appeared to be in charge. Shifau had “a closet full of disciplinary records.”

Shifau grabbed him by the cuff and complained about a disciplinary committee hearing where he was questioned by Jinah. Another group of police arrived and drew the pair apart. Jinah and Hameed were kept aside for about 45 minutes.

They heard groups of mutinying officers armed with iron rods calling for Faseeh and other senior officers, threatening to kill. One group found Jinah and Hameed and dragged them away, pushing and shoving. Hameed however managed to escape and ran to the fourth floor.

Jinah also wriggled free and hurried to his office on the third floor. Jinah saw that the drug storage “strong room” next to his office was open and its lock destroyed. All the illegal narcotics seized by police were stored there.

“The door was smashed. So in truth the place where the drugs were stored was on sale that day. The place was open for anyone to enter and take anything they want.”

“Then I ran inside my office and was locking some documents and personal belongings inside a drawer when they came and broke down the door.”

The harddisk on Jinah’s computer along with some confidential case files have since not been recovered.

The mutinying officers shoved and pushed Jinah down the stairs. He was taken inside the Gaazee building and kept there for about an hour, after which Shifau and two other officers came with handcuffs.

“They said my hands will be cuffed behind the back. I said you can’t do it behind. You should kill me if you want cuff my hands behind my back.”

The mutinying officers discussed amongst themselves and said OK. They cuffed Jinah’s hands in front and led him outside, all the while shoving and beating him with their boots.

A group of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) activists joined the mutinying officers escorting Jinah. Both the civilian group and mutinying officers called for Jinah to be mobbed and lynched.

However, another group of civilians and police officers, which included Jinah’s friends and relatives, ran over and surrounded him. They protected Jinah and put him on a speedboat to the police detention island of Dhoonidhoo.

At Dhoonidhoo, Jinah noted that the officers on duty there were not involved in the mutiny. They took off his handcuffs. The officer-in-charge, Staff Sergeant Mujthaba Zahir, informed Jinah that a junior officer named Azeem Waheed called and said Jinah was on the way.

Shortly thereafter, inmates at the detention center broke out of their cells. They included dangerous criminals arrested by Jinah.

Jinah was protected by officers on duty. A group of SO officers soon arrived to quell the inmate uprising. Jinah found out that SO officers had come to Dhoonidhoo after midnight, broken into the armoury and taken away all the weapons.

Jinah called then-Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed. Jinah had worked closely with Waheed as the vice-president was in charge of the previous administration’s pledge to combat drug trafficking and abuse. But Waheed did not answer. He sent a text message to Waheed’s secretary and was told that the president-in-waiting would attend to Jinah’s predicament.

“He hasn’t attended to it yet. Next February it will be one year to February 7.”

Jinah learned from the Dhoonidhoo staff that current Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz ‘FA’ were in charge of police. He called the pair. Riyaz claimed he did not know anything about Jinah’s arrest and hung up the phone. Fayaz said the same and asked Jinah what he was doing in Dhoonidhoo.

Jinah then called Faseeh and asked him to get Superintendent Abdulla Fairoosh, who had taken over as acting commissioner, to send a speedboat to Dhoonidhoo. But Faseeh said he was in the process of resigning.

“In any case, I managed to get a launch after a lot of work. I got the launch and left on it. I went and stayed at HIH [Hulhule’ Island Hotel]. From there I flew overseas that night.”

Jinah learned later that President Nasheed knew of his arrest before his resignation.

“Arresting officers of the security forces is one element of a coup d’etat. We were the responsible officers of the [security] service at the time. I believe taking away our powers and arresting us was one of the first acts of the mutiny. So they did that.

“I believe that I definitely would not have been able to return alive and safely to my family if President Nasheed did not resign. I was under arrest and in their custody at the time. Therefore, I believe that President Nasheed resigned under duress to save me and others in my situation as well as to save the lives of everyone else who could have been harmed.”

Jinah observed that mutiny or rebellion against the government by the security forces was “an element of Third World countries.”

The mutinying police and army officers on February 7 “took upon themselves the label of a Third World country on their own.”

At CoNI, Jinah was asked mostly about the arrest of Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed in January 2012. Apart from asking Jinah to recount his experience of February 7, the commission members did not ask questions regarding the events that immediately preceded the transfer of power.

“I basically do not accept the [CoNI] report at all. The reason is because I recounted what happened to me. There are photos and videos of me in handcuffs being beaten and dragged. However, the [CoNI] timeline stated that I was arrested for my own security and protection. So how can I accept the CoNI report? I can never accept that report.”

(Read summaries of the testimony from former police intelligence chief Mohamed ‘MC’ HameedBrigadier General Ahmed Nilam and Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh).


Summary: Testimony of former police intelligence chief to Government Oversight Committee

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the police and military for its review of the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CoNI’s) report into the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012. Minutes of the closed-door sessions (Dhivehi) along with audio recordings were made public on January 16, 2013.

Following is a translated summary of the testimony from former head of police intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed to the oversight committee on January 9, 2013. Hameed was fired in August 2012 by the police disciplinary board over allegations of leaking confidential information. He has since sued the police for unlawful termination.

Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed joined the Maldives Police Service (MPS) on April 8, 1995. He was appointed head of the police intelligence department on January 17, 2010 following completion of a state-sponsored Masters degree in policing, intelligence and counterterrorism from the University of Sydney, Australia.

“I attended CoNI on April 15, 2012 and in addition I also attended the reconstituted CoNI. I believe it is because they did not consider what I said there to have much weight that important points from my two statements to CoNI were not highlighted in the report. The reason I am saying this is because what happened on February 6, 7 – I am not a legal expert but I have worked in the police profession for a very long time – I believe what happened with the police those two days should not have been seen from those belonging to a professional police service.”

Hameed believed that elements of the police mutinied on February 6 and 7. The CoNI report however did not highlight police misconduct, alleged brutality and disobedience that he “emphasised” at the commission.

When the new administration took office in November 2008, MPS did not have “a professional intelligence setup.” The previous intelligence department, known as Omega Sector, was referred among police as the “black room”. It was headed by current Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz.

Police intelligence was focused on the political opposition to the then-government and did not provide much assistance or cooperation for routine policing. Hameed’s “main purpose” as the new head of police intelligence in 2010 was “setting up an intelligence mechanism needed for policing or law enforcement.”

At CoNI, Hameed was asked why police intelligence had not learned of a plot to overthrow the government if the events of February 6 and 7 were orchestrated and planned in advance.

“I said very clearly, if intelligence operated in the way it did in the police service before 2008, the incidents of February 6 and 7 would not have happened. It would not have been allowed [to happen].”

Gathering information from the political arena was “not a priority at all” for the department. However, the intelligence department did monitor political activities, especially protests or demonstrations that affect public peace.

“Considering the information I was receiving in my post, I do not believe what occurred on those two days happened spontaneously.”

Police received intelligence that plans were made to carry out anti-government activities with police involvement to disrupt a mass gathering planned by the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for February 17, 2012 as part of its campaign for judicial reform.

“We had learned that discussions took place. This information would be recorded in the Maldives Police Service intelligence department intelligence reports and intelligence logs.”

On the night of February 6, when clashes erupted between opposition protesters and government supporters at the artificial beach, the intelligence department was monitoring the situation. Communications from the mutinying police from the Specialist Operations (SO) department at Republic Square were being intercepted.

An off-duty platoon from the SO was active at the artificial beach without orders.

Following the military’s detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed on January 16, 2012, anti-government graffiti was discovered in the toilets of the SO accommodation block at Iskandharu Koshi. The graffiti called for Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh, Deputy Commissioner Ismail Atheef and President Mohamed Nasheed to be killed.

“I believe that police as a whole was not ready for democratic governance. There were serious problems in the institution.”

The judge’s arrest sparked demonstrations by the opposition coalition for 22 consecutive nights. During that period, police would gather at the Republic Square at 7:00pm every night and follow the protests until 2:30am or 3am.

“The sole focus of police was on these demonstrations. During the whole day, the police service was almost asleep.”

On January 23, 2012, the intelligence department prepared an assessment report of the situation with a recommendation for the Commissioner of Police to seek the release of Judge Abdulla from military detention and find “another settlement” of the issue.

At the demonstrations outside the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building, opposition leaders were publicly claiming that police and army officers would join their protest.

On January 17, 2012, ten senior police officers above the rank of chief inspector met with the Commissioner of Police and informed him that they “did not accept” having to control the protests against the judge’s arrest. The ten senior officers were in charge of police operations.

“One of them indirectly proposed that the commissioner resign that very day.”

In the coming days, police intelligence learned that some of the senior officers had separate meetings with the current Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz ‘FA’ and Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim.

The ten senior officers were also noticeably absent from the police headquarters during the operations to control the opposition protests.

On January 18, 2012, President Mohamed Nasheed met with police officers of commissioned rank at the police headquarters theatre hall and attempted to explain the reasons for the judge’s arrest. A few days later, an audio clip of President Nasheed’s talk was leaked and broadcast on opposition-aligned DhiTV and Villa TV.

A police officer of a junior rank was meanwhile caught relaying information of the operation to opposition politicians leading the demonstrations. Riot police officers were also seen to be reluctant in taking action against unruly demonstrators.

A few nights before February 6, opposition protesters marched to the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) building, located near the ruling party’s Haruge (meeting hall). In response, a group of MDP activists led by MDP MPs made their way to the Supreme Court building and MMA area.

In contrast to their attitude towards opposition demonstrators, SO officers deployed at the MMA area forcibly broke up the MDP protest as soon as it reached the police lines.

Police intelligence learned that a SO officer called Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof later that night and bragged of having beaten up MDP supporters. In the intercepted call, MP Mahloof asked the officer why they did not break the leg of MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik at the protest.

Based on such intelligence information, the assessment report prepared on January 23 warned that the likelihood of “police and army officers coming out against the government” was high.

In the early hours of February 7, the special assessment unit of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) responsible for intelligence regarding domestic security relayed information that PPM council member ‘Marz’ Ahmed Saleem was coordinating efforts to send speedboats to Dhoonidhoo and Feydhoo Finolhu to bring more police officers to join the mutinying police at the Republic Square.

Police intelligence also learned that some army officers inside military headquarters told the mutinying police around 4:00am that the soldiers would join the mutiny if they held on for four more hours. The intercepted calls between army and police officers were provided by MNDF intelligence.

At 10:30am on February 7, mutinying police assaulted Hameed and other senior officers inside the conference room on the 5th floor of the police headquarters and dragged them out “by the cuff”.

Hameed made his way to the office of the Police Commissioner on the 4th floor. At 11:00am, Chief Superintendent Abdulla Fairoosh came into the office, sat down and informed the commissioner that a team was going into the military headquarters to give President Nasheed an ultimatum. Fairoosh asked the commissioner what he intended to do.

“I took that indirectly [to mean] ‘I am taking over, so the commissioner of police should step aside or resign.’”

The commissioner then went to the conference room and made his parting remarks. All commissioned officers in Male’ were present, some in uniform and others in plainclothes. After the commissioner left, a vote was taken among the senior officers to appoint Fairoosh interim commissioner. Two assistant commissioners were present.

After Fairoosh took charge, Chief Superintendent Ahmed Saudhee then told Hameed that he was no longer head of the intelligence department. Hameed was to be replaced by Chief Inspector Abdul Mannan Yoosuf, who had been studying Business Administration in the UK and was in Male’ at the time on holiday.

Following the appointment of Abdulla Riyaz as commissioner on the night of February 8, 2012, Hameed was made a member of the executive team and appointed head of the service development directorate.

Earlier in the day, confronted by thousands of MDP supporters in a march across Male’, Hameed saw that the senior officers were “in shock” and appeared not to have command and control. Individual officers at the scene acted without orders.

As vice chair of the promotion board, Hameed also noted that 1,112 police officers were promoted on March 31, 2012 while only 600 forms were submitted under the normal promotion procedure. Commissioner of Police Riyaz had instructed heads of directorates to submit a list of officers in their departments for promotion.

Under promotion rules that were supposed to have been amended by then, the commissioner is authorised to “deviate from the normal promotion routine” and promote officers who have shown “special” qualities or exceptional performance.

The new lists were hastily approved during a promotion board meeting after midnight on March 31 while the promotion ceremony was scheduled for 10:00am the next morning. The board meeting was chaired first by Commissioner Riyaz and then Deputy Commissioner Hussain Waheed. The latter was receiving phone calls as late as 3:00am to add new names to the list of officers to be promoted.

Hameed’s objection to promoting officers suspected of brutality and breach of ethics on February 6, 7 and 8 was ignored. SO officers involved in the events were given single and double promotions.

“What we saw was that officers with a disciplinary record from the floor to the ceiling were given promotion by the executive board.”

Hameed further noted that failure to preserve CCTV footage from February 7 cast doubt on the “integrity of the current [police] leadership.” The footage was automatically wiped out on March 7, 2012.


Summary: Testimony of Brigadier General Nilam to Government Oversight Committee

Following is a summary of the testimony (Dhivehi) of Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on January 9, 2013.

Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam was head of military intelligence until late 2011. At the time of the transfer of power, General Nilam was commander of the marine corp. In the wake of his testimony to the Government Oversight Committee, General Nilam was suspended and relieved of his duties by Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim on January 18, 2013.

As his first intimation of a plot to overthrow the government through the security services, Nilam took note of an opposition demonstration on January 24, 2010, during which Umar Naseer led protesters to the MNDF headquarters and rattled the gates.

“My field officers [in the intelligence department] said they were seeing signs of something abnormal about to happen. But we could not know what it was, right?”

Nilam ordered the gates to be shut before the protesters made their way to the Republic Square or the “green zone” where gatherings are prohibited.

“I see now that there is a connection between the incidents that night and February 6. This is what I feel.”

In November 2010, a senior officer serving under the Vice Chief of Defence Forces Farhath Shaheer shared information of an alleged plot to assassinate President Mohamed Nasheed during a live-fire exercise on November 11, 2010. Based on the forewarning, President Nasheed did not attend the Republic Day function. The case was sent to police for further investigation.

In late 2011, then-Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaan removed Nilam from his post as head of military intelligence. Within three months, he was appointed to two posts before being made commander of the marine corp.

Nilam learned that Tholhath made the decision on his own without consulting the commander-in-chief. Nilam saw that President Nasheed trusted the defence minister.

In November 2011, Nilam sent a six or seven page letter to President Nasheed expressing concern with Tholhath’s actions. The defence minister was interested in “very quickly purchasing expensive instruments.” Tholhath also made a number of changes to the military top brass, shuffling senior officers, including Commander of Special Forces Colonel Giyas.

A month after Nilam was removed as head of intelligence, his former deputy, Colonel Abdulla Zuhuree, was also transferred.

Prior to the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, General Nilam participated in a meeting on January 15, 2012 with the Supreme Court bench, senior police officers and military officers to discuss national security threats posed by the judiciary.

In a meeting with senior military officers a day before, Tholhath spoke about taking the judge under military custody. Nilam opined that any person could be detained if he was a threat to national security. He however advised against moving too quickly and suggested planning and coordination with other institutions.

But the minister wanted it done immediately and asserted that he would take responsibility “even after 40 years.” Police had officially requested military assistance at the time in accordance with the law.

On the night of February 6, 2012, Nilam was unaware that the military was brought to red alert, the highest security status. He found out later from a timeline of events. Contrary to normal procedure, the duty head did not inform him nor was a message sent.

Nilam was having coffee with Chief of Defence Forces Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel when he saw Specialist Operations (SO) police on television running towards the artificial beach. The generals then made their way to the operation room. Both were in plainclothes. Nilam did not have any operational command at the time.

Shortly afterwards, SO officers returned to the Republic Square and began their protest or strike. Nilam decided against going to the barracks at Kalhuthukkala Koshi for his uniform.

“I felt staying inside would be better than going because it was unclear how this was unfolding. So I stayed as I was. It kept getting dragged on and on. And as I recall the then-President came [to the military headquarters] some time around dawn.”

Fearful of the potential threat to domestic security, Nilam remained inside the operation room and returned to the room despite being sent out six or seven times by Tholhath.

Nilam stayed close to President Nasheed, who was asking the operation commanders to clear the Republic Square of mutinying police. Nilam warned of dangerous consequences if the situation dragged on and worsened. He later learned that the military ranks were not functioning and some soldiers wanted to join the mutiny.

Nilam thought that a violent confrontation between police and the military might have been the desired outcome of the then-opposition. After the break of dawn, President Nasheed went out and addressed the mutinying police but they remained defiant.

More police officers kept joining the protest at Republic Square as false rumours began to circulate. About 45 soldiers from Kalhuthukkala Koshi came to the Republic Square. Nilam learned later that military police opened the gates to let the soldiers out.

Military officers also joined the police officers and opposition activists in taking over state broadcaster MNBC.

The president, defence minister and chief of defence forces were issuing orders because “the [military] lines weren’t working.”

“I was really saddened. This was not something I ever saw inside the military. There has been insubordination. There are former officers here [among MPs on the committee]. There is insubordination. But things have never happened like this in such an operation.”

Nilam saw a president in a “very helpless state”, which was “a sad moment.”

“We are entrusted with the duty and responsibility of protecting the country’s independence and sovereignty. It is truly disturbing to see something like that from [the military].”

The situation inside the barracks was chaotic. Soldiers were filming on their phones or cameras although it was strictly prohibited.

Nilam also learned that the military did not have “any control of [presidential residence] Muleeage after 7:00am or 7:30am in the morning.”

Police and ex-servicemen entered Muleeage after 7:15am on February 7. Nilam heard later that some officers of the Special Protection Group (SPG) guarding the President and Vice-President had joined the mutiny.

He also learned later that First Lady Madam Laila Ali was taken out of the presidential residence in a car whose number plates had been changed to avoid detection.

Nilam was surprised and saddened when the CoNI report did not include any recommendations for the MNDF. He believed it was important to thoroughly investigate the role of the military in the events of the day.

“That is because if something like this happens and it is not investigated, the consequences will be very dangerous. We are in that state now.”

Following the change of government, Defence Minister Nazim asked Nilam if he believed the transfer of power amounted to a coup or a revolution.

Nilam replied, “Looking at it academically, this has all the characteristics of a coup. Some signs are what would happen before while other signs are what occurs during the event. Then we have what happens afterward. I have even looked into this and studied this along principles that academicians would consider. So I told [Nazim] that this has all the characteristics. He didn’t say anything else.”

Under Maldivian law, a “coup d’etat” could not be carried out without the military’s involvement as the offence is specified and prohibited in the Defence Forces Act of 2008.

Inside the military headquarters, Nilam overheard President Nasheed refuse assistance from two foreign nations before he decided to resign.

“[The President] said this is an internal matter. He answered both calls in much the same way.”

Considering the chaotic situation at the Republic Square, there was possibility of bloodshed “if it dragged on” and the president’s life was in danger.

Nilam was present when current Defence Minister Nazim relayed the ultimatum to Tholhath for the president’s “unconditional” resignation.

Nilam saw military officers bang the president’s car with their boots while he was escorted to the President’s Office from the military headquarters. He also noted that current Chief of Defence Forces General Ahmed Shiyam took over as acting chief before President Nasheed officially resigned.

“There are a lot of questions here. I believe that this should be investigated thoroughly and looked into. These are very serious matters.”


New footage of Feb 7 shows Yameen, Gasim inciting demonstrators, police

Private broadcaster Raajje TV on Friday aired previously unseen footage from February 7, 2012, before the controversial resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed claimed that he resigned “under duress” after elements of the police and army joined opposition protesters and attacked the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters following a police mutiny in Republic Square.

The new footage shows government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim – both presidential hopefuls – address the protesting police, army officers and opposition supporters.

“The Indian government is with the Maldivian people,” Yameen announced to the assembled police and anti-government demonstrators. He was however cut short by police appealing for cooperation from the crowd.

After MNDF officers were pegged back and forced inside military headquarters following a confrontation with the mutinying police, the Republic Square – or the “green zone” where gatherings are prohibited – was overrun by opposition supporters and police officers.

The PPM parliamentary group leader reportedly arrived at the Republic Square after a meeting at the Indian High Commission.

Business tycoon and JP presidential candidate Gasim meanwhile praised mutinying police and army officers for their “sacrifice” and “jihad for the nation.”

In March 2012, Raajje TV aired video footage of political party leaders inside police headquarters before the resignation of President Nasheed. Upon receiving news of President Nasheed’s decision to resign, Gasim is heard to say that it was “fortunate that this ended without going to military rule.”

Gasim is a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing Nasheed’s trial in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, in the more recent footage televised by Raajje TV, a police officer announces that “ [state broadcaster] MNBC has been brought under control” and that the security forces were in the process of “arresting those we have to take into custody.”

Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim and Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz are also seen active in the area outside military headquarters, with one of the clips showing the latter carrying President Nasheed’s resignation letter.

Both ex-servicemen under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom were civilians at the time of the transfer of power.

In other videos that emerged at the time, Nazim is seen announcing to the mutinying police and army officers that President Nasheed had been told to resign “unconditionally”.

Nazim also announced that he was “in charge of the army” and would soon appoint senior officers.

One of the previously unseen videos aired by Raajje TV further showed President Nasheed exiting the military headquarters in a car surrounded by MNDF officers and being driven the short distance to the President’s Office.

Following Nazim’s appeal to those gathered to refrain from violence, former Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan is also seen addressing the crowd atop a military vehicle and appealing for cooperation and nonviolence.

Rishwan had reportedly denied any involvement in the events of February 7, 2012.

Meanwhile, in an interview with government-aligned radio station DhiFM on February 8 this year, Defence Minister Nazim claimed that President Nasheed would have been mobbed and killed if he was not escorted to the President’s Office under military protection.

“I would say in truth, given the level of hatred from the public, President Nasheed would not be in this world today if we had not taken him out and to the President’s Office under our protection. [Former President] Mohamed Ameen comes to mind. The people would have mobbed [Nasheed] just like that,” Nazim was quoted as saying in local media.

He added that video clips from the day would show “the extreme level of hatred from the public”.

Similar remarks were made by PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer days after the transfer of power. Naseer claimed at a PPM rally that Nasheed’s only options were to either “resign after bloodshed or resign peacefully”.

On August 30, 2012, the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) formed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed however concluded that there was “no coup, no mutiny and no duress” in President Nasheed’s resignation.

February 8

Raajje TV has also aired a video clip from the day after the transfer of presidential power following a brutal police crackdown on a walk across Male’ by supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

In the wake of the crackdown near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building near Republic Square, President Nasheed along with MPs Mariya Ahmed Didi and ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik took refuge in a shop and were dragged out by riot police.

The new footage shows President Nasheed surrounded and manhandled by the Specialist Operations (SO) officers before he manages to wriggle free and run. According to media reports on February 8, Nasheed rejoined supporters at the area and was taken to safety.

MP Yameen addressing crowd

MP Gasim addressing crowd

“MNBC has been taken under control”

President Nasheed exits MNDF headquarters

President Nasheed walks to Muleeage after resignation

Riyaz carrying resignation letter

Mutinying police and army officers calling for president’s resignation

Nasheed escapes SO officers on February 8, 2012

Nasheed rejoins supporters

Nazim demands “unconditional resignation” of President Nasheed


“What police officers did on February 6, 7 and 8 were crimes”: Police Integrity Commission

Members of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) have told Parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) that unlawful actions committed by police officers on February 6, 7 and 8 last year were criminal activities that needed to be prosecuted.

Parliament’s EOC is currently reviewing the report produced by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which looked into the controversial transfer of power that took place on February 7, 2012.

The committee is also assessing the progress of institutions in following the recommendations stated in the CNI report. The committee on Wednesday evening summoned the PIC along with members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muiz.

Speaking to the committee, PIC Vice President Haala Hameed said that actions of police officers during the period of the controversial transfer of power amounted to crimes and should be prosecuted by the PG.

She claimed that the PIC had identified 29 cases of police misconduct, out of which cases concerning six police officers had been sent to the PG for prosecution. Furthermore, the PIC revealed that it had urged Home Minister Mohamed Jameel to suspend the officers immediately.

Hameed said the commission had failed to identify the police officers in five of the remaining cases while 11 other cases lacked supporting evidence. She also said the PIC was still investigating seven cases of police misconduct during the transfer of power.

“These are not disciplinary issues, but crimes. Aside from sending cases to the Prosecutor General, we also recommended the Home Minister suspend these officers, because of the delays in prosecution. We believe these officers should not be serving in the police,” Hameed said.

However, PG Muiz disputed Hameed’s claims, suggesting that the actions of police officers did not amount to crimes but were “disciplinary issues”.

“I am not deterred or afraid of carrying out my duty. I am not influenced by anybody. By the will of God, I will continue to carry out my duty. I would have sent cases to court if there had been sufficient evidence needed for a successful prosecution,” Muiz said.

“We did not investigate those cases as a disciplinary matter. Those are criminal cases. We investigated a crime,” Hameed responded.

When a committee member asked about the police officer Ali Ahmed – who was promoted twice after the PIC recommended he be dismissed from the police force and prosecuted, Hameed said Home Minister Jameel had given a “deaf ear” to the commission’s repeated requests.

Former Chair of the PIC Shahinda Ismail earlier revealed that officers the PIC had recommended for suspension were in instead receiving promotions.

“It is really upsetting for me, a huge concern, that the police leadership is permitting a trend whereby unlawful officers are acting with impunity. This can only lead to further violence,” Shahinda said at the time.

Meanwhile local newspaper Haveeru quoted Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as saying that the cases of police officers which the PIC recommended be dismissed had been sent to the police disciplinary board.

Jameel said that the Police Act and the regulations made under the act were very clear as to how a police officer could be dismissed or disciplinary action be taken.  He claimed that he would uphold the law and would not violate the Police Act.

“The PIC is an institution formed under the Police Act. I can’t simply remove a police officer simply based on a recommendation by the commission. That is why I sent the cases to police disciplinary board as soon as I got the [PIC]’s letter,” he told Haveeru.

Jameel also said that it would be an unfair dismissal if the court acquitted a police officer who had been dismissed prior a verdict being reached.

However, Hameed during the committee meeting, claimed there was sufficient evidence needed for successful prosecution of those officers which it had recommended be dismissed.


Nasheed’s ousting result of “planning, propaganda and a lot of work”: Umar Naseer

The resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012 was the result of “planning, propaganda and a lot of work”, interim deputy leader of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has claimed.

Introducing candidates from “Team Umar” at a rally last week ahead of the PPM’s first congress this weekend, Naseer urged supporters to vote for members of his team as they had “produced results” through street activism against the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) administration.

“A lot of people told us that Mohamed Nasheed’s government cannot be toppled from the street. I said while contesting for DRP’s [Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s] deputy leader that I was coming to this post to topple Mohamed Nasheed’s government from the street. We have proven and shown that,” he said.

“You should not think that February 7 happened automatically,” he continued. “It did not happen like that. It was the result of planning, propaganda and a lot of work by some people. It did not happen automatically.”

While former President Nasheed insists that he was forced to resign “under duress” following a police mutiny and loss of command and control over the military, a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) found that the transfer of power to then-Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was constitutional.

Speaking at last week’s rally, Umar Naseer said members of his team led protests for 22 consecutive nights and played an important role in backing up mutinying police officers in the early hours of February 7.

In an interview with Australian journalist Mark Davis for the SBS Dateline television programme in February 2012, Naseer claimed he was at a “command center” on the night of February 6 directing protests by the then-opposition.

“On the protesters’ side, we were informing and educating the police and army through our speeches and television programs,” Naseer said.

Asked by Davis if the opposition had made any other inducements, such as promises that they and their families would be “looked after” if they switched sides, Naseer said “there were.”

He added that the former president could have been beaten by a mob if he had emerged from the military headquarters without agreeing to resign.

At the first PPM rally following the controversial transfer of presidential power, Umar Naseer said he told former President Nasheed to resign “or else you might lose your life.”

Naseer claimed that the former president’s choices were to either resign peacefully or “resign after bloodshed.”

“While the operation [protest] was going on that night, I was at the commanding center. I was talking to Nasheed’s close aides. I told them to surrender; otherwise [he] might lose life. I told them that repeatedly. But, firstly, they responded arrogantly saying they do not have to surrender [because] such a circumstance has arrived,” Umar claimed.

But around 8:30am the next morning, Umar claimed that Nasheed called him saying that he wanted to resign. Nasheed said that he would not participate in any political activities hereafter, Umar added.

“Nasheed called and said that he is prepared to resign. He requested arrangements to be made for him and his family to leave for somewhere else. I told him that it will be arranged and to prepare for resignation,” Umar claimed.

Following media coverage of those remarks, Umar however released a statement claiming he did not imply that President Nasheed’s life was threatened by police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

During the unrest, Umar said that he spoke to Former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and told him that their lives were in danger because of the large number of protesters in Republic Square.

“I said his life could be in danger because of the large number of people gathered there [Republican Square] and it seemed that police, MNDF did not have the capacity to control the crowd – not even us,” Umar said.

“We feared from our hearts that if the civilians [protesters] had entered the MNDF headquarters by using any means, Nashed, Tholhath and MNDF and police inside the building [at the time] would have been at danger.”


Former military, police intelligence chiefs claim Nasheed had no choice but to resign

The former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) chiefs have claimed that former President Mohamed Nasheed had no choice but to resign on February 7, 2012, following a police and military mutiny.

The allegations were made public after meeting minutes of Parliament’s Executive Oversight committee were published in the parliament’s website.

The committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the controversial transfer of power that took place. It has so far interviewed senior military officers, police officers and senior officials of both the current and former government.

Among the interviewees were  former Chief of Defence Force (retired) Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh, and former MNDF Male’ Area Commander (retired) Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi.

Others interviewed included former intelligence heads of the MNDF and police: Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam and Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed.

On February 7 2012, a continuous 22 day protest led by then opposition politicians, religious scholars and later joined by mutinying military and police officers, led to the sudden resignation of President Nasheed. The protests were fueled following Nasheed’s controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.

The ousted President subsequently alleged he was forced out of office in a coup d’état.  However, this claim was challenged in report by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which found the transfer of power legitimate and constitutional.

“No other way for Nasheed” – former Chief of Defence Force Moosa Ali Jaleel

Chief of Defense Force Moosa Ali Jaleel told the committee that the circumstances leading up to the resignation of former President gave rise to the fact that resignation was obtained by “illegal coercion”.

“I fully believe that President [Nasheed] resigned under duress,” he said.

Jaleel refused to describe the transfer of power as coup, stating that this should be decided by the court. However, he claimed that the transfer of power only took place because it involved assistance from the military.

“What I am saying is that the military was there when about 15,000 protesters gathered during protests of August 12-13 2004, but the government did not topple. There was a armed attack by the Tamil Tigers on November 3, 1988, and the government did not topple. But on February 7, 2012, during a protest of 2500, the government was toppled. I am referring to the statistics,” he said.

He added that the circumstances and the violent environment around the MNDF headquarters meant that “there was no other way for President Nasheed [than to resign].”

“The control of the MNDF Headquarters was not with the president, but it was exactly the way the Defense Minister wanted,” he alleged.

Jaleel added that no president could be sure of his safety when those officers who were supposed to look after his security began to call for his resignation. He would know his power no longer exists and his command no longer followed, added Jaleel.

“It is a coup” – former military intelligence head Ahmed Nilam

Former MNDF intelligence chief Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam echoed Jaleel’s remarks. Asked whether the toppling of Nasheed was a coup or a revolution, he claimed it was a coup.

“Academically speaking, the events on February 7 fulfilled all the essentials of a coup. It involved all the features of a coup that are widely accepted around the world. Some of the elements take place before the toppling of a president. Others take place spontaneously,” he said.

Nilam said he studied the events after the incident took place, which fitted an academic’s definition of a coup. However, Nilam also highlighted that it was up to a court to legally determine whether it had been a coup or not.

Asked if he had given the same details to the CNI, Nilam said he did given the same statement to the commission but it had not been reflected in its result.

He also reiterated that had not for the military assistance in the toppling of the government, there would have been no coup and Nasheed would not have been forced to resign.

“Police officers disobeyed their orders” – former Commissioner of Police

In his statement to the committee, Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh alleged that police officers who gathered in Republican Square on February 7 had disobeyed orders and their actions were grossly inconsistent with the Police Act, as well as professional standards established within the police.

Recalling the events, Faseeh said that he had done everything he could to control the situation but said there came a point where the officers had openly mutinied and disobeyed his orders.

“The actions of the police officers that night were unlawful. I am not a lawyer, so I can’t go into the details. But a lot of unlawful activities were carried out by the police,” he claimed.

However, Faseeh said that he did not know whether Nasheed had resigned under duress because he had not been present with him in  the MNDF headquarters.


Footage leaked of museum vandals destroying pre-Islamic artifacts

Private broadcaster Raajje TV has aired leaked security camera footage showing a group of men vandalising pre-Islamic artifacts in the national museum on February 7, 2012.

Around 35 exhibits were destroyed when  half a dozen men stormed into the museum amid the political chaos of February 7, after former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned under controversial circumstances during a police and army mutiny.

The footage shows a group of men entering the museum, knocking over glass cases and smashing Buddhist-era statues.

Local daily Haveeru reported today that it had learned the men were “religious extremists” who belonged to a local group.

In May 2012, police forwarded cases against four suspects involved in the vandalism to the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO). Police at the time declined to reveal any information regarding the identity of the four suspects.

Officials at the PGO were unable to confirm today if the cases had been filed at the Criminal Court.

According to museum director Ali Waheed, the vandals destroyed “99 percent” of the evidence of the Maldives’ pre-Islamic history prior to the 12th century, including a 1.5-foot-wide representation of the Buddha’s head – one of the most historically significant pieces at the museum.

An official at the museum told Minivan News following the incident that the group “deliberately targeted the Buddhist relics and ruins of monasteries exhibited in the pre-Islamic collection, destroying most items beyond repair.”

“This is not like a glass we use at home that can be replaced by buying a new one from a shop. These are originals from our ancestors’ time. These cannot be replaced ever again,” the official said.

In September 2012, the United States government donated US$ 20,000 (MVR 308,400) to help restore and repair the damaged artifacts.

The vandalism was reminiscent of the Taliban’s demolition of the great carved Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in early 2001 and raised fears that extremists were gaining ground in the Maldives, the New York Times reported in February.

AFP meanwhile reported former President Nasheed as saying that the vandals included Islamist hardliners who had attacked the museum because they believed some of the statues inside were “idolatrous”.

In the weeks leading up to the transfer of presidential power on February 7, former President Nasheed’s administration was accused by a coalition of religious NGOs and opposition parties of weakening Islam in the Maldives under the influence of “Jews and Christian priests.”

On December 23, 2011, the opposition alliance held a massive rally in the capital Male’ to “defend Islam” from Nasheed’s allegedly liberal policies and securalisation agenda.

In November 2011, monuments gifted by the South Asian countries to the Maldives ahead of the 17th summit of South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), hosted in Addu City, were denounced as idolatrous and vandalised.

Removal of the contentious monuments was one of the five demands of the December 23 coalition, who also demanded that the government prohibit Israeli airlines from operating in the Maldives, shut down brothels doubling as massage parlours, reverse policies to allow sale of alcohol in city hotels and condemn United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay for her suggestion that flogging be abolished as a punishment for extra-marital sex.

After coming to power, the ruling coalition withdrew the demands in the People’s Majlis.