High Court grants injunction suspending former President Nasheed’s trial

The High Court today granted an injunction (Dhivehi) temporarily suspending the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed at the contested Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, pending a ruling on procedural points raised by the former President’s legal team.

The former President is facing criminal charges over the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

At a preliminary hearing on October 22, Nasheed’s lawyers requested an injunction halting the trial pending a ruling by the High Court on three procedural points dismissed by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court: a magistrate court holding a trial on a different island to where it was based; the constitutional legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court; and the legality of the arrest warrant issued by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, as such orders could only be issued by a court in the locality of the defendant’s permanent address.

At the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’s first trial date on October 9, the court summarily dismissed the first two points and agreed to hear the last issue. The court however ruled that the warrant was issued legally as it was following a precedent established by the High Court.

The ruling was subsequently appealed by Nasheed’s legal team at the High Court.

Concluding the hearing on the appeal on October 22, High Court Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariya said the three-judge panel would issue a ruling on the injunction at the next hearing on the morning of November 4.

Meanwhile, the second hearing of the trial at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was scheduled for 4:00pm today. Following the court order issued by the High Court however, it has since been cancelled.

In its ruling today, the High Court noted that the Prosecutor General’s Office had not objected to the court issuing the injunction at the October 22 hearing.

The High Court noted that continuing without “determining the legitimacy of the necessary procedural processes” and “ensuring the rights of the defendant” could cause irreparable injury to the claimant.

Moreover, if there was “a delay” in ruling on the request for an injunction, “the court believes that the purpose of the ruling [on the appeal] might not be achieved”.