Freedom for ex president on the horizon, suggests MDP

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has raised hope of freedom for convicted opposition leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed by July 26, the day Maldives marks 50 years of independence from the British.

Speaking at a press conference after a third meeting of talks between the MDP and the government, MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih said: “When we celebrate the golden jubilee of independence on July 26, our aim, our hope is that everyone is able to celebrate the day happily and in freedom.”

Nasheed’s jailing on terrorism charges, relating to the arrest of a judge during his tenure, sparked months of daily protests and historic anti-government marches. Diplomatic pressure has been mounting on President Abdulla Yameen to release Nasheed and other political prisoners, including two former defence ministers and ruling party MP.

While Ibu struck a hopeful tone, the government representative, home minister Umar Naseer was more cautious. He said the government had made no commitments on releasing jailed politicians, but reiterated that the government stands ready to make compromises for long-term stability.

Nasheed was transferred to house arrest in late June after the opposition backed a constitutional amendment that will allow President Abdulla Yameen to replace his deputy.

Naseer tonight hailed slow and steady progress in talks and said: “I now believe there is nothing we cannot resolve.”

“On whether political leaders will be released, we did not give any commitments. But we did give one commitment, that is to make concessions, to make compromises where possible. We want to ease political tensions. For there to be engagement and dialogue between the MDP and the government. If such an environment is created, it will be easier for us to make concessions. I cannot directly state that the government will make a specific compromise. But I will say if such an environment is created, the government stands ready to make all compromises. In the past three weeks, we have made compromises, and we have seen progress. This does not happen with just one meeting. This is the third official meeting between MDP and the government. In other countries, it can take 100 meetings,” he said.

Since Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest, the government has removed a freeze on Jumhooree Party leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim’s tourism businesses. Gasim, who had spent nearly three months abroad amidst rumors of impending arrest, returned to the Maldives on Sunday morning.

Gasim’s JP had also backed the constitutional amendment. The parliament is due to vote to impeach vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed by July 26. Many believe the president is seeking to replace Jameel because he wants a more loyal deputy ahead of a major surgery for a life-threatening condition.

Ibu said: “Even if we do not say a specific action will be taken on a specific date, you will see actions from both parties… You will see results. We are not able to share some of the discussion points with the media yet, so we have not shared them, but we are on a good foundation. I am certain of that. Now we have to proceed. And I received that certainty tonight as well.”

The MDP has repeatedly said Nasheed’s freedom is the party’s highest priority.

The two representatives also said they have established a hotline to facilitate communication and to resolve any issues that may come up.

“There’s been progress, You will be able to see this in the future. Talks are proceeding in a friendly and conciliatory environment. I note we are already seeing results. The public will see even more progress when we sit for a next meeting,” Ibu said.

The fourth meeting of talks has been scheduled for July 21.

Naseer meanwhile said the government, at the ongoing talks, is not pressuring Nasheed to appeal his 13-year jail term at a domestic appellate court. The foreign ministry this weekend urged the opposition leader to appeal in a response to the UN working group on arbitrary detention.

Naseer also said the government will look at provisions in the Clemency Act and the Parole Act in reducing jail terms or releasing other jailed politicians, but only after they exhaust appeal processes.

“We can only take measures through the law. We have the Clemency Act, and the Parole Act. We will review that when it gets to that stage. This government wants to calm political tensions, to establish stability and to establish a conducive environment by which we can provide the public with the services and the development they seek. As I said before, these talks are not about the present, but also the political future of the Maldives.”

The MDP has proposed six measures for political reconciliation at the ongoing talks. In addition to asking for the release of politicians and withdrawing “politically motivated charges” against some 1400 opposition supporters, the party has also called for an independent inquiry into the murder of MP Afrasheem Ali and the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

Discussions have not progressed on the latter demand yet.

Naseer meanwhile said the government is reviewing the charges against the 1493 people. “This government does not want to charge and punish those who have committed minor offences in political activities. President Yameen has given me a special instruction on this,” he said.

However, the government does not want to be lenient on individuals who may be pretending to be political prisoners, especially those with criminal records, he said.

The government has also committed to speeding up progress in the separate talks with the JP and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party.

Another major demand by the MDP in the ongoing talks is a change from the Maldives’ presidential system of government to a parliamentary system. Discussions on the system of governance will take place at a second stage of talks, the representatives said at an earlier press conference.


Government to begin talks with the Jumhooree Party

President Abdulla Yameen has pledged today to begin talks with the opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) whose senior officials appear to be in self-imposed exile.

JP leader and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim has been in Bangkok since late April, ostensibly to repair a boat. Local media report the criminal court has issued an arrest warrant for Gasim on a charge of financing a historic anti-government protest on May 1.

The JP’s deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and council member Sobah Rasheed are accused of inciting violence at the May Day protest, and have been charged with terrorism. If convicted, they face between 10 and 15 years in jail.

Both Ameen and Sobah are out of the country. In a video message, Sobah said he is seeking political asylum.

Speaking to the press today, President Yameen said: “God willing we will sit down with Jumhooree Party for talks. We’ve been waiting for Ameen Ibrahim to return to the Maldives and join the talks, but we will go forward even without him.”

Talks will begin within the next two days, he said.

The JP was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.

The president called for separate talks with the JP, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party.

The overture came after months of continuous protests over the jailing of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges and a US$90.4 million claim on Gasim’s Villa Group

The JP immediately agreed to sit down with the government without conditions. In addition to Ameen, the party has proposed MPs Ilham Ahmed, Abdulla Riyaz, and Hussain Mohamed to represent it at the talks.

President Yameen has ruled out negotiations over Nasheed’s release. His agenda focuses on political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary and political party participation in socio-economic development.

The MDP has proposed Nasheed, chairperson Ali Waheed and MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as representatives. The Adhaalath Party proposed its president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who is currently in police custody. He is also charged with terrorism over the May Day protest.

The government has rejected Nasheed and Imran as representatives.

“Adhaalath Party and MDP have not shown me a way of proceeding with this. They have stated they will not talk with the government without certain people. I don’t believe that a party which considers the interest of the whole party or the interest of the public would put forward a person in detention or serving a sentence to discussions with the government,” the president said today.

The government “is obliged to continue applying the law indiscriminately to all,” Yameen said and added: “It will be hard for the people to accept it if we take different actions against different people in different situations.”

The president said he will listen to what the opposition has to say and meet their demands if “it does not compromise the law.”

The government had previously rejected the opposition’s calls for talks because their terms were unacceptable, he continued.

“The political parties had asked me to negotiate with them before. But I rejected them because I could not accept the terms they set. But in my own time, within my reasons, I am looking forward to talk with the parties. It is for the benefit of the people, to establish a peaceful environment for all.”

The government had decided to call for talks in the interest of the public and because the international community “believes there are many issues that needs discussions and need to be solved,” he said.

“Now is the time to build the country. We have lost five years. That’s the truth. This is the chance to start projects to develop all areas of the country. This is the time to provide the youth with employment. My appeal to the people of Maldives is to grab this chance,” he said.

“I want the support of everybody. If I did something wrong I will come before the media and apologise to the people and will try to go forward again.”

President Yameen said corruption and injustice in the Maldives resulted from the discriminate enforcement of the law.

“Critics of my government claim there is corruption within the government. It is not a problem at all. I will not make an exception to anyone in my government. If anyone is involved [in corruption] or if anyone is convicted of a crime, he has to face the law,” he said.


Government dismisses US secretary of state’s comments as ‘personal views’

The government has dismissed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments over threats to democracy in the Maldives as his personal views.

Speaking to Haveeru, acting foreign minister Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Hussain Shareef said the US government had not officially shared the concerns with the government and insisted Kerry’s remarks were his own opinion.

“We have strong relations with America,” he was quoted as saying by Haveeru.

Kerry’s comments came after clashes erupted between protesters and police following a historic antigovernment protest on Friday. Nearly 200 protesters were arrested.

“We’ve seen even now how regrettably there are troubling signs that democracy is under threat in the Maldives where the former president Nasheed has been imprisoned without due process,” Kerry told the press in Sri Lanka on Saturday.

“This is an injustice that needs to be addressed soon.”

Shareef was unavailable for comment today.

The president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz also declined to comment.

Nasheed is serving a 13 year jail term on terrorism charges. The trial was widely criticised by foreign governments, international bodies and human rights groups.

Kerry had met with Nasheed’s wife, Laila Ali in Washington before his visit to Sri Lanka.

Nasheed’s international lawyers have asked the UN working group on arbitrary detention to rule the opposition leader’s arrest arbitrary and illegal.

Nasheed’s arrest on february 22 sparked daily protests across the country. The Jumhooree Party and the Adhaalath Party split from the ruling coalition and allied with Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party over increased authoritarian tactics by the government.

Approximately 20,000 protesters took to the streets on Friday against the government’s ‘tyranny.’ The march is the largest antigovernment action in the past decade. Clashes erupted when protesters attempted to enter the city’s main Republic square at dusk.

Police used stun grenades, thunder flashes, tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds and confrontations continued into the early hours. Scores were injured, 193 people arrested and two policemen severely beaten by protesters.

Later that night, police arrested Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, deputy leader of JP Ameen Ibrahim and MDP chairperson Ali Waheed.

The police have said the opposition must give prior notice before holding a protest.

Meanwhile the UN human rights office on Friday said Nasheed’s trial was “vastly unfair, arbitrary and disproportionate.”

Briefing the press in Geneva, Mona Rishmawi, who heads the office on rule of law, equality and non-discrimination, said Nasheed’s 19-day trial was politically motivated and was reached by judges wielding “incredible discretionary powers.”

The European parliament has also passed a resolution urging the government to release Nasheed immediately.

However, the government remains defiant, with the foreign minister saying President Abdulla Yameen’s government will not comply with demands from foreign governments to “meddle” in judicial affairs and release a convict.

In an interview with state broadcaster TVM, Dunya Maumoon said the Maldives would become “enslaved” and lose its independence if the government accepted such demands.

Foreign governments do not wish well for the Maldives, she continued and called on the public to protect the country’s institutions, independence and sovereignty.


Ex president transferred to high security prison

Former president Mohamed Nasheed was transferred from a low security prison to a maximum security jail located close to the capital Malé last night.

The opposition leader’s lawyers have raised concern over what they say is an arbitrary transfer from one jail to another which is located on two different islands, and say his family was not given notice before the transfer.

Lawyers said they had visited Nasheed in Asseyri jail on Himmafushi Island on Monday afternoon but the corrections department had not informed them of an impending transfer.

Nasheed’s family and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party have repeatedly expressed concern over alleged plots by the government to assassinate the opposition leader. But the government has dismissed the allegations as slanderous and baseless.

The opposition is meanwhile planning a 25,000 strong march in the capital Malé on Friday demanding the government free Nasheed and other politicians.

The former president is serving a 13-year jail term on terrorism charges relating to the detention of a judge during his tenure. He was convicted on March 13, but was held under police custody at the Dhoonidhoo Island remand centre until his transfer to Asseyri Jail on April 21.

Home minister Umar Naseer announced Nasheed’s transfer to Maafushi Jail at 10:30pm last night in a tweet.

The home ministry has previously said the special apartment constructed for Nasheed measures 264-square foot, with a sitting room and is furnished with air-conditioning, a television and VCD player.

The special apartment will also have a 1,087 square foot garden and Nasheed would be able to “live with other inmate friends.”

Nasheed’s lawyers have also raised concern over the identity of the “inmate friends” Nasheed is to be incarcerated with, and say the prison apartment is located adjacent to the prison garbage dump and is “highly unsanitary.”

The human rights commission of the Maldives had previously said old cells at the location were unfit for human habitation.

Lawyers said family visits and phone calls to the family have been restricted since his transfer to jail.

However, the home ministry says the former president’s family and supporters have no reason for concern stating: “Nasheed is fully under the security and protection of Maldives Correctional Services. He will get the security and protection from the correctional services. Plus he is a VIP prisoner, so he will be offered comforts including TV and so on”.

“This is not a sudden transfer,” home ministry spokesperson Thazmeel Abdul Samad said, adding Nasheed was transferred to Maafushi as soon as the prison apartment was completed.

Nasheed’s trial was widely criticised by foreign governments, international human rights organisations and the UN for its lack of due process.


President dismisses calls for resignation

President Abdulla Yameen says he will not resign or negotiate with the opposition despite the threat of mass antigovernment protests on May Day.

The Maldivians against brutality coalition says it will bring out 25,000 people on to the streets of the capital on Friday, and has called on president Yameen to initiate talks immediately and free imprisoned former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

But the president at a press conference today reiterated his belief that there was no room for negotiations in court verdicts and said ordinary Maldivians are not facing any difficulties in their day to day life.

“There is no reason for me to resign. The opposition shouting out what ever they like is no reason for a president to resign,” he said.

“As I govern, I am the first to take the initiative to resolve issues arising from my mistakes. They have not said anything substantial as of yet.”

The criminal court last month sentenced Nasheed to 13 years in jail on terrorism and Nazim to 11 years on weapons smuggling. Foreign governments and international rights groups have condemned the trials for lack of due process.

Tens of thousands have signed a petition urging president Yameen to free Nasheed. The opposition leader’s lawyers say the Clemency Act authorizes the president to shorten an inmate’s sentence to any period depending on the circumstances surrounding the prisoner’s conviction.

But Yameen today dismissed calls for Nasheed’s freedom, stating: “MDP says president Yameen can release president Nasheed even tomorrow. President Yameen will not release president Nasheed tomorrow. He is serving a sentence. The sentence can only be reduced according to due process.”

The coalition – made up of MDP, religious conservative Adhaalath Party, members of the Jumhooree Party and independent MPs – says it will end the government’s tyranny on May Day. Opposition politicians have been traveling across the country in recent weeks urging supporters to converge on the capital on May 1. Meanwhile, daily small scale protests are continuing.

But president Yameen says he faces no pressure stating: “I would like to say, May 1 will once again mark a day where the rule of law is upheld in the Maldives.”

“May 1 is coming. I will wait and watch. Those who violate the laws must know they will be punished. We have been advising [the opposition] through the relevant institutions. We will not allow [the opposition] to bring out young people and put them behind bars,” he said.

He accused the opposition of inciting violence and undermining the rule of law by using religion as a shield, and advised the opposition to cease its efforts immediately.

Last week, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb challenged the opposition to a confrontation on May Day.

The government has said Nasheed and Nazim must appeal their sentences, but the opposition says it has no faith in the judiciary saying the president controls the judiciary.


Opposition invites civil society to join anti-government May Day rally

The opposition alliance has invited civil society groups and worker’s associations to join its anti-government May Day mass rally.

NGOs and civil society organisations have a responsibility to bring an end to the alleged injustices of the current administration, former deputy gender minister Sidhaatha Shareef told the press today.

“The civil society is the fourth power of the state. But today we see the government narrowing their rights to make them useless,” said Sidhatha, a senior member of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party.

The ‘Maldivians against brutality’ alliance, made up of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the Adhaalath Party (AP) and leaders of business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoory Party (JP) claims at least 25,000 people will take part in the May Day protest.

Leaders of the alliance have been traveling across the country to rally support ahead of the demonstration, issuing stern warnings to the government and urging opposition supporters to converge on the capital on May 1.

Political tensions have been running high since the sentencing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence defence minister Mohamed Nazim to 13 years and 11 years in jail, respectively.

Earlier this week, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb challenged the opposition to a confrontation on May 1, prompting fears of a stand-off and civil unrest.

Mauroof Zakir, secretary general of the Tourism Employment Association of Maldives (TEAM), told Minivan News that the group will consider accepting the invitation after internal discussions.

“TEAM will analyse what would be the benefits of us joining in the rally. We will look into what the employees of the tourism industry will get from joining them,” he said.

“It is possible TEAM will decide on participating after discussions.”

The influential NGO is currently preparing a petition – with more than 5,000 signatures to date – demanding implementation of the government’s pledges to distribute resort shares to employees and establish a US$600 minimum wage.

Teachers Association of Maldives (TAM) said it will not participate in the opposition rally, stating it would affect their credibility as an association free of political influence.

“TAM is currently working on solving problems through negotiations. We wouldn’t want to be seen as an association sided with a political party or influenced by politicians,” said Ali Nazim, the secretary general of TAM.

Meanwhile, Sobah Rasheed, a senior JP member, said at today’s press conference that the political parties and the civil society are working towards a common goal.

“Today, both the civil society and the political parties are working to protect our human rights, to secure our civil rights which are increasingly being diminished by this dictatorial regime,” he said.

“This does not make the NGOs political but rather they are playing a crucial role in saving the nation.”

The government has been “brutal” in consolidating powers, contended former MDP MP Ahmed Easa, a former president of TEAM.

“Everyone knows that the civil service commission is ruled inside the president’s office. That is also brutality. Someone has to stand up for the rights of the civil servants. Trade unions, local NGOs and the political parties have a responsibility to fight for their rights,” he said.


President Yameen remains defiant as calls grow for Nasheed’s release

President Abdulla Yameen has said he has no role in releasing jailed opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed, despite growing calls for negotiations over the imprisonment of political rivals.

“I cannot do anything. A verdict has been issued. I would like to encourage former president Nasheed and his party officials to seek an appeal. There are two more appeal stages, the matter should be resolved through the courts,” President Yameen said at a rare press conference on Thursday.

Nasheed was convicted of terrorism last month and sentenced to 13 years in jail in a trial widely criticized by foreign governments for its apparent lack of due process.

The former president has refused to seek an appeal stating he has no faith in the judiciary.

Thousands of opposition supporters have signed an ongoing petition requesting the president Yameen to release Nasheed, and are continuing daily protests in the capital.

International NGOs, businessmen and environmental activists have called for sanctions on the Maldives, while some 15 religious scholars last week pleaded with the president to heed the calls for dialogue.

The opposition Maldivians Against Brutality coalition has meanwhile called for a mass protest on May Day in the hopes of forcing president Yameen to initiate talks.

The coalition has also called for the release of ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim, who was jailed last month for 11 years on smuggling illegal weapons. The coalition accuses the government of breaching the constitution and unfairly targeting the businesses of rival politicians.

But reiterating the claim he has no power over the judiciary, Yameen said Nasheed will be released immediately if the courts overturn his sentence.

“The President’s Office did not rule on this case,” he said, noting Nasheed was first charged over the judge’s arrest in 2012 before he assumed power.

Yameen maintained that the opposition was unable to prove allegations of constitutional breaches or brutality.

“These politicians cannot point out how this government has been brutal. [They say] it’s by punishing offenders through the courts. If that is brutality, then this government is indeed enforcing their sentences,” he said.

Yameen said Nazim must also appeal his sentence. The ex defence minister’s lawyers filed an appeal at the High Court last week.

The opposition’s campaign is aimed at obstructing the government’s agenda, he alleged, but said he believed the campaign was proving to be unsuccessful.

The opposition coalition is made up of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), former ruling party ally Adhaalath Party, members of Nazim’s family, and members of Jumhooree Party (JP).

JP leader and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim has ceased his vociferous criticism of president Yameen after his Villa Group was slapped with a US$90million fine.


Nasheed’s terrorism trial “a mockery” of Constitution, verdict “may have been pre-determined,” says Knaul

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s terrorism trial “made a mockery” of the Maldives Constitution, and violated the country’s international human rights obligations, the UN special rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers has said.

In a damning statement issued on Thursday, Gabriela Knaul highlighted several irregularities in the opposition leader’s rushed trial, and said: “The speed of the proceedings combined with the lack of fairness in the procedures lead me to believe the outcome of the trial may have been pre-determined.”

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail on March 13 after the Criminal Court found him guilty of “forcefully abducting” Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The surprise trial began one day after Nasheed was arrested on February 22, and was completed in just 11 short hearings over 19 days.

“The series of due process violations that were reported to me since Mr. Nasheed’s arrest on 22 February is simply unacceptable in any democratic society,” Knaul said.

Warning of a “seriously deteriorating situation in the independence of the justice system,” the expert urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial and due processes.

The Maldivian authorities must allow the public, including international observers who were arbitrarily denied access to the Criminal Court, to attend appeal hearings, she said.

Nasheed’s lawyers, however, have already raised concern over alleged attempts by the Criminal Court to block the former president from launching an appeal.

With one week having passed since the verdict was issued, the Criminal Court failed to release any relevant trial documents until yesterday (March 19), which lawyers say are necessary for Nasheed to meet the ten day appeal deadline provided in new regulations enacted by the Supreme Court.

Selective justice

The Maldives’ decision to try Nasheed on terrorism, while his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has not had to answer for any of the serious human rights violations documented during his term is “troubling for a country whose constitution enshrines the independence and impartiality of the justice system as a prerequisite for democracy and the rule of law,” Knaul also said.

She urged the Maldives to consider the recommendations she had put forth in a 2013 report, including revising the composition of the judicial watchdog body the Judicial Services Commission, proper investigation of judges’ misconduct, enforcing the judges’ code of conduct and increasing the judiciary’s financial and human resources.

“The delicate issue of accountability for past human rights violations also needs to be addressed,” she noted at the time.

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday raised similar concerns as Knaul over Nasheed’s trial, including the Criminal Court having denied Nasheed adequate time to prepare defence and a refusal to call defence witnesses.

The experts have also expressed concern over the Criminal Court’s decision not to wait until Nasheed sought new legal representation when his lawyers resigned half-way through the trial.

Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin and two judges of the three-member bench providing witness statements during a 2012 investigation into Judge Abdulla’s arrest amounted to conflict of interest, both Knaul and Zeid have said

“Clearly no one should be above the law, and the trial of a former Head of State would be a major challenge for any government. But in a polarised context, and given the long-standing serious concerns about the independence and politicisation of the judiciary in the Maldives, this case should have been handled with much greater care and transparency,” Zeid said on Wednesday.

Related to this story:

UN human rights chief expresses strong concern over “hasty and apparently unfair” Nasheed trial

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court

Judge Abdulla suspected of involvement in “contract killing,” says Nasheed

A justice system in crisis: UN Special Rapporteur’s report


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.

Related to this story:

Nasheed’s lawyers name Judges Didi, Yoosuf as witnesses, request their withdrawal from terrorism trial

Police deny brutalising Nasheed

Commonwealth, Canada express concern over denial of legal representation for former President Nasheed

Former President Nasheed arrives in court with arm in makeshift sling

Nasheed denied right to appoint lawyer and appeal “arbitrary” arrest warrant, contend lawyers

Police arrest former President Mohamed Nasheed ahead of terrorism trial