Nasheed’s sentence was commuted to house arrest before state decision to appeal

Questioning the state’s decision to appeal a terrorism conviction against former President Mohamed Nasheed, lawyers revealed today that the opposition leader’s 13-year jail sentence was commuted to house arrest on July 19.

“The government of the Maldives has permanently moved President Nasheed to house arrest for the balance of his 13-year term in prison,” the opposition leader international lawyer Jared Genser told reporters in Colombo this afternoon.

The Maldivian high commission in Sri Lanka confirmed the move to AFP. Nasheed’s domestic legal team told Minivan News the decision had been communicated in writing.

The PG office announced the decision to appeal the guilty verdict yesterday amidst rumours that President Abdulla Yameen will pardon Nasheed in exchange for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) backing for several crucial votes in parliament.

Speaking at a press conference in Malé today, lawyer Hassan Latheef said the legal team believes the government has exerted undue influence over the PG to appeal the case in a bid to appease growing international pressure.

The European parliament, the British prime minister, the US secretary of state, the UN Human Rights Council and various international organisations have called for Nasheed’s release, Latheef noted, adding that the legal team had expected the former president to be pardoned as a result of talks.

But President Yameen could now “tell the international community that President Nasheed’s case is out of his hands,” Latheef suggested.

“We believe that there is intense foreign pressure on the government to release President Nasheed and the case was on President Yameen’s table. But we now believe that the government has sent the case to the prosecutor general’s table,” he said.

The government will be able to tell the numerous foreign diplomats expected to arrive in the Maldives to attend an official function to celebrate 50 years of independence on July 26 that Nasheed’s case has been appealed by the state, Latheef said.

Some diplomats would accept that the president could not intervene in the judicial process or grant clemency before the appeal process is exhausted, he added.

Latheef said the legal team will decide whether or not to participate in the “charade” following consultations with Nasheed’s international lawyers. The state’s sudden reversal of stance may affect ongoing talks between the opposition and the government, lawyers suggested.

Genser meanwhile told reporters today that he was denied a business visa to work in the Maldives last week and was told that he needed further authorisation from the Supreme Court certifying that he was licensed to practise law internationally.

“There is no Maldivian law, regulation, or rule that imposes such a requirement on applicants for business visas who are lawyers – it appears the Supreme Court specially designed this requirement just for me,” he said.

Genser is representing Nasheed along with Amal Clooney, the wife of Hollywood actor George Clooney, and Ben Emmerson, a UN rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights. The international lawyers have filed an appeal at the UN working group on arbitrary detention seeking a judgment declaring Nasheed’s imprisonment illegal.


In a brief statement yesterday, the PG office said the decision to appeal the conviction was made based on concerns raised over due process in the trial and Nasheed’s request for the PG to appeal the conviction as well as his contentions over procedural violations, insufficient time to mount a defence, and inability to appeal due to the criminal court’s failure to provide a full report and transcripts of the trial within a 10-day period for filing appeals.

Lawyer Hisaan Hussain noted that Muhsin had repeatedly rejected requests for the state to appeal the conviction, insisting that Nasheed could file an appeal despite the lapse of a 10-day period and that the PG would not appeal a verdict in his favour.

The PG’s sudden reversal of stance while talks seeking Nasheed’s release were ongoing “raises questions about his purpose and intent,” Hisaan said.

Muhsin told the press in May that he believed Nasheed’s appeal had “a high possibility of being accepted at the high court since Nasheed is a former president, since it is related to a judge and since it is a terrorism charge.”

The Supreme Court had shortened the appeal period  from 90 days to 10 by striking down provisions in the Judicature Act a month before Nasheed’s arrest on February 22.

Last month, the High Court, citing lateness, rejected an appeal filed by the Prosecutor General over the acquittal of a defendant on murder charges.

On June 20, President Yameen rejected Nasheed’s appeal for clemency, urging him to exhaust all appeal processes first. The opposition leader’s lawyers say that the Clemency Act grants the president the discretion, on the president’s own initiative, to commute the sentence of any individual convicted of a criminal offence.

The next day, Nasheed was transferred to house arrest for eight weeks.

Shortly thereafter, the MDP and the government began talks on clemency for Nasheed and other jailed politicians as well as the withdrawal of charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters.

Opposition MPs subsequently backed the impeachment of vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel and a constitutional amendment setting new age limits for the presidency and vice presidency. The amendment allowed President Yameen to replace Jameel with the influential tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The MDP also issued a free whip on a second constitutional amendment to allow foreign freeholds in the Maldives. Some 19 opposition MPs, including ten MDP MPs, voted to pass the amendment.

At the fourth meeting of talks last week, MDP representative Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had suggested that Nasheed may be released before July 26.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention is meanwhile expected to rule on Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October. In a response to the UN, the government insisted Nasheed must appeal the sentence.


PG to appeal former president’s terrorism conviction

Citing irregularities and rights violations in the terrorism trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed, the Prosecutor General has announced today that he will appeal the criminal court’s verdict.

The decision comes amidst rumors that President Abdulla Yameen will pardon the opposition leader ahead of July 26, the day Maldives marks 50 years of independence from the British.

In a brief statement issued at 6pm, PG Muthaz Muhsin said: “As various parties are raising questions about how the trial proceeded, and as Mohamed Nasheed has said his rights were violated, and that he did not have sufficient time to prepare for the case, and that he did not receive the case documents for an appeal, and since Mohamed Nasheed has asked the prosecutor general to appeal the case, the Prosecutor General’s office has decided to appeal the terrorism conviction against Mohamed Nasheed at the Maldives’ High Court under authority granted to the prosecutor general by article 233(i) of the Maldives’ constitution.”

Article 233 authorises the PG to appeal any judgment, verdict or decision in a criminal matter.

It may take days for the appeal to begin with state offices closed until July 29 for independence day celebrations. The criminal court will now have to issue a trial record and the High Court registrar will then make a decision on accepting the appeal.

Nasheed was found guilty on terrorism charges over the military’s detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, MP of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said he could not comment as Nasheed’s lawyers were presently discussing the development.

The Attorney General Mohamed Anil today dampened talk of an imminent pardon for Nasheed saying: “Such matters will be dealt with through established procedures in the criminal justice system… It will not happen without my knowledge. I have not received any information yet.”

On June 20, President Yameen rejected Nasheed’s appeal for clemency, urging him to exhaust all appeal processes first. The opposition leader’s lawyers say that the Clemency Act grants the president the discretion, on the president’s own initiative, to commute the sentence of any individual convicted of a criminal offence.

The next day, Nasheed was transferred to house arrest for eight weeks.

The MDP and the government subsequently began talks on clemency for Nasheed and other jailed politicians and withdrawal of charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters.

The opposition has backed several government proposals in hope of freedom for Nasheed, including the impeachment of vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel and a constitutional amendment setting new age limits for the presidency and vice presidency. The amendment allowed President Yameen to replace Jameel with the influential tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.

The MDP also issued a free whip on a second constitutional amendment to allow foreign freeholds in the Maldives. Some 19 opposition MPs, including ten MDP MPs, voted to pass the amendment.

At the fourth meeting of talks last week, Ibu had suggested that Nasheed may be released before July 26.

The UN working group on arbitrary detention is expected to rule on Nasheed’s imprisonment in September or October. In a response to the UN, the government insisted Nasheed must appeal the sentence.

The opposition leader’s lawyers maintain they have no legal avenue to file an appeal as the Supreme Court had shortened a 90-day appeal period to 10 days, weeks before Nasheed’s trial began.

The High Court, citing lateness, last month rejected an appeal filed by the Prosecutor General over a murder acquittal. Public prosecutors blamed the delay on the criminal court’s failure to issue a trial record, as had happened in Nasheed’s case.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court last week acquitted a convicted drug trafficker citing irregularities similar to that raised by Nasheed’s lawyers.

In the unprecedented ruling, the apex court said the accused was not given access to a lawyer or the opportunity to call defence witnesses.

In a separate development, only four of the nine High Court judges are eligible to hear Nasheed’s appeal. This is because of two factors; three judges were transferred to a newly created appellate court branch in the south on June 23 and two of the three presiding judges in Nasheed’s prosecution were promoted on June 8 to fill two vacancies at the High Court.

Since the Judges Act states that an odd number of judges must preside over appeals, Nasheed’s appeal can still proceed with three judges.

An appeal filed by ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim was stalled at the High Court when the Supreme Court transferred judges overseeing his appeal to the southern branch.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, the European parliament, and influential US Senators have called for Nasheed’s immediate release.

Reporting by Ahmed Naish and Shafaa Hameed. Writing by Zaheena Rasheed.


High Court, citing lateness, rejects murder acquittal appeal

The High Court has rejected an appeal filed by the state over the criminal court’s acquittal of a man accused of killing his girlfriend, stuffing her body into a suitcase, and dumping it at a construction site in Malé.

The appellate court’s registrar rejected the appeal because it was filed after a shortened ten-day appeal period.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has blamed the delay on the criminal court’s failure to provide required court documents on time.

The Supreme Court in January shortened the 90-day appeal period to 10 days by striking down a provision in the Judicature Act.

The PG office says it plans to contest the registrar’s decision.

“We filed the appeal within 10 days of receiving court documents from the criminal court. We hope the High Court will accept this case given its sensitive nature,” said public prosecutor Ahmed Hisham Wajeeh.

The criminal court in May ruled that the state had failed to submit conclusive evidence against Mohamed Najah.

Delivering a verdict five years after the murder trial began, chief judge Abdulla Mohamed said Najah had denied charges and that testimony by the prosecution’s witnesses did not indicate Najah had committed any acts to murder Mariyam Sheereen.

The 30-year-old woman’s body was found hidden under a pile of sandbags in a construction site in January 2010. Najah was accused of taking the suitcase to the vacant building in a taxi.

Police showed CCTV footage of Najah dragging the suitcase and said that the DNA samples from the bag matched Sheereen’s. The driver of the taxi that Najah took also testified at the trial.

The couple were living together in an apartment in Maafannu Kurahage. Witnesses had testified to hearing Najah threaten to kill Sheereen and told the court that she was last seen entering the apartment on the night she went missing.

Prosecutors told the court that Najah had entered and left the apartment several times, locking the door each time, and was later seen leaving with a suitcase.

Judge Abdulla, however, said that the taxi driver had only said he had transported Najah with a heavy suitcase and had said that he had smelled a foul scent only after Najah left the cab.

The three doctors who examined Sheereen’s had not been able to determine the cause of death, he noted.

The chief judge has been accused by the opposition of corruption and bribery. Charges have never been proved. Former President Mohamed Nasheed – who was found guilty of terrorism charges over the military’s detention of judge Abdulla in January 2012 – had said the judge was suspected of involvement in a “contract killing.”

Nasheed’s lawyers say they were unable to file an appeal of his 13-year-jail term because the criminal court had failed to provide court documents on time. The government, however, insists the opposition leader can still appeal.

A High Court official previously told Minivan News that judges can accept late appeals if a reasonable justification is given, such as the lower court’s failure to provide detailed reports.

But Nasheed’s lawyers say there is no legal avenue to file an appeal, because the Supreme Court has removed the High Court’s discretionary powers to accept late appeals in the same ruling that had shortened the 90-day appeal period.


New bill grants president authority to declare groups ‘terrorist organisations’

The Attorney General’s (AG) office has drafted a new anti-terrorism bill that would grant exclusive authority to the president to declare groups as terrorist organisations.

The 39-page draft defines terrorist organisations as a group of people acting as a whole, which carries out or has the purpose of destroying properties or carrying out acts of brutality.

The draft legislation proposes restricting constitutional rights upon arrest for terrorism suspects – including the right to remain silent and access to legal counsel – and criminalises flying overseas to fight in foreign wars.

Inciting violence at demonstrations and threatening the country’s independence and sovereignty will be considered acts of terrorism.

Other terrorism offences include kidnapping, abduction, hijacking, endangering public health or safety, and damaging important infrastructure. The bill specifies penalties of up to 25 years in jail.

Committing any of the offences for the purpose of creating terror among the public or promoting a political or religious ideology will also be a terrorist offence.

The bill also authorises the home ministry to carry out extensive surveillance of suspects.

Encouraging terrorism, an act which carries a 10 to 15 years jail sentence, is defined as “a speech or statement perceived by the public as encouragement of terrorism.”

Circulating messages or statements of a terrorist organisation is also a crime with a jail sentence of seven to 10 years.

A draft of the bill has been shared with the Maldives Police Service and the prosecutor general’s (PG) office.

Attorney general Mohamed Anil told CNM today that his office is seeking comments from stakeholders and that the bill will be submitted when parliament returns from recess next month.

The bill is likely to pass as the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance controls a simple majority of the 85-member house.

The PG office will have to file charges against a person suspected of terrorism within 15 days and the courts will have to reach a verdict within 30 days.

The home minister will meanwhile have powers to apply for a ‘monicon’ (monitoring and control) order to tag, intercept communications and conduct surveillance on terrorism suspects.

The minister can seek a monicon order if the suspect commits an act that endangers the community.

The minister does not have to inform the suspect and the court is not obliged to summon the suspect before issuing the order.

If a monicon order has been issued the police can order the person to live at a selected house if the suspect has multiple residences, restrict travelling and search the person, his home, suspected whereabouts on any time without an additional court order.

If the law is passed, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1990 will be dissolved.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-minister Tholhath Ibrahim were charged under the terrorism law over the military’s detention of a judge in January 2012. The pair were found guilty and sentenced to 13 years and 10 years in prison, respectively, last month.


Government hands discounted flats to judges, commission heads

The government has awarded luxury flats at discount prices to Supreme Court judges and four heads of independent bodies including the Anti-Corruption Commission in what it calls an attempt to “ensure their integrity”.

However, the opposition has condemned the distribution as a “government effort to enslave independent institutions”.

The government was handed 10 flats in the newly built Rehendi Residency, constructed by FW Construction in Male’. The housing ministry then offered the semi-finished apartments for MVR 1.6m (US $103,761), much lower than the market price, to the chosen individuals.

Hassan Lutfee, president of the Anti-Corruption Commission, confirmed to Minivan News he had signed a contract to buy one of the apartments at the discounted price.

A former owner of one of the apartments not awarded to the government told Haveeru he had bought his apartment for MVR 2m (US $129,000).

The government also waived the six per cent interest charged to other flat buyers on their loans, though the prosecutor general said he had requested to pay the normal rate.

According to the local media, the flats were awarded to Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, Supreme Court judges Ahmed Abdulla Didi, Adam Mohamed Abdulla, Abdulla Areef and Ali Hameed, Criminal Court Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf and Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin.

Apartments were also allotted to Commissioner General of Taxation Yazeed Mohamed and Information Commissioner Abdul Azeez Jamal Abu-Bakr. Not all the recipients have yet signed contracts to buy the flats.

Co-chair of the Economic Council Ahmed Adeeb told a press conference on Wednesday that the apartments were awarded to “ensure the integrity of independent institutions”.

“The flats were not handed out. The recipients have to pay for them. This will result in ensured integrity of independent institutions and moreover it will strengthen the state,” he said.

However, the opposition parties accused the government of trying to “enslave” the judiciary and independent institutions.

“This clearly is corruption. The constitution clearly states that no benefits can be given to members of independent institutions without parliament’s approval,” said MP Ali Hussain of the opposition Jumhoory Party.

“The fact that the flats were given personally to the heads of the institution and not [linked to] the post is outrageous.”

Article 102 of the constitution states that members of the judiciary and independent commissions “shall be paid such salary and allowances as determined by the People’s Majlis [parliament]”. However, parliament was not involved in allotting the apartments.

Muhathaz, the prosecutor general, told Minivan News he does not think the awards involve corruption.

“In my opinion the awarding of the flats is not unconstitutional. But I personally believe that it would have been better if it was awarded to the prosecutor general and not to me,” he said.

Information Commissioner Jamal said the flats were given to help the judges and institution heads live in a secure building, and dismissed any idea of government influence.

“I assure the people that I will always act professionally and within the bounds of the constitution and the laws,” he said.

The prosecutor general receives a monthly salary and allowances of MVR 57,500 (US $3,741), while the anti-corruption commission chief receives MVR 45,000 (US $2,927). Supreme court justices are paid MVR 71,000 ($4,619) and the chief justice MVR 73,125 ($4,757). They also receive extra benefits such as insurance.

A majority of civil servants are paid less than MVR 5,000 (US $325) a month.

The Supreme Court declined to comment on the issue, while the Housing Ministry refused to give information beyond what was discussed in the Economic Council press conference.

Judge Bari and Taxation Commissioner Yazeed were unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.


Women face charges over airport protest

State prosecutors are preparing to charge 14 women and one man who protested at Male’s international airport earlier last month over the arrest and trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed.

Police have sent the cases to the prosecutor general’s office to send them to trial, an official confirmed to Minivan News.

Another source confirmed that 15 cases were sent to the prosecutor general’s office, while a total of 90 protest-related cases have been sent to the state prosecutor.

Some 14 women and one man were arrested on March 5 while protesting at the airport with posters calling for Nasheed’s release. The protest was co-ordinated by the women’s wing of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The opposition has been holding nightly street protests over Nasheed’s trial, but it is rare for demonstrations to take place at the airport in view of international tourists.

A police spokesperson at the time said the Freedom of Assembly Act bars protests at airports.

Nasheed has since been sentenced to 13 years of prison over terrorism charges, in a trial which was deemed unfair by the UN and Amnesty International.

Among those arrested were Malé City deputy-mayor Shifa Mohamed and MDP women’s wing vice-president Shaneez “Thanie” Saeed.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Shifa said she is yet to be officially informed of the charges, but have heard rumors about it in the media.

“We are already getting punished for protesting. [We] are barred from protesting for 60 days. If they accuse us again we are getting punished for the same crime twice,” Shifa said.

All of those arrested at the airport were released by the criminal court at their remand hearing on the condition they do not participate in further protests for 60 days.

The opposition has argued that the release of those arrested at protests on these conditions violates their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Shifa accused the criminal court of misconduct and bias in their treatment of those arrested at protests.

The remand trial of those arrested at the airport was headed by Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf – one of the three-judge panel who sentenced Nasheed to 13 years.

The deputy mayor said that Bari warned them he would sentence them to two months in detention if they participate in more protests.

“I see this as threat to scare us, and something done to selectively eliminate certain individuals,” Shifa said.

In another high-profile case, MP Ahmed Mahloof, formerly of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, was arrested at a protest last week and detained for five days.

When his detention ended, the criminal court handed him a further five days of house arrest after he refused the court’s condition to stay away from protests for 60 days.

Similarly, MDP MP Ismail Fayyaz was given 15 days’ detention after he refused to accept release under the same conditions.


Global MPs’ group calls for Mahloof release

Global MPs’ group Parliamentarians for Global Action has condemned the detention without charge of MP Ahmed Mahloof and called upon authorities to immediately release him from house arrest.

Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) expressed its “undiminished solidarity” towards MP Mahloof in a statement today.

He was arrested at an opposition rally on March 26 for allegedly “obstructing police duties and disobeying police orders.”

Noting that Mahloof may have been “targeted” by police for his criticism of the government, PGA expressed concern that freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the constitutional rights of MPs may have been violated.

After five days at the Dhoonidhoo detention centre, Mahloof refused to accept the court’s conditional release, which would have barred him from protesting for 60 days. The criminal court then placed him under five days of house arrest.

Mahloof was expelled from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives after its disciplinary committee said he brought President Abdulla Yameen into disrepute with false statements in the media.

Meanwhile, a letter from the Prosecutor General’s office was leaked to Minivan News, which arguesthat some recent decisions by the court may have limited individuals’ rights relating to pre-trial detention.

The letter, addressed to Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, said the decisions limited rights under Article 49 of the constitution.

This article says that no one shall be detained prior to sentencing unless there is a fear of the accused failing to appear at court, for the protection of public safety, or to prevent the accused interfering with witnesses.

Local media have interpreted the letter, dated yesterday, as a warning to the criminal court over the conditional release of people arrested at protests, which often stipulates they must not go to any more demonstrations for 60 days.

Previously, MP Fayyaz Ismail, of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), was detained for 15 days after he refused to accept release on these conditions following his arrest at a protest on March 8.

At the time, the Criminal Court had released 33 of the 77 individuals arrested at protests, on the condition they would not participate in further protests for 60 days.

“This is not a limitation of rights, but a violation of [the detainee’s] rights to assembly, expression, and free will,” said Shahindha Ismail, executive director of Maldivian Democracy Network’s, earlier this month.

Courts can enforce conditions on detainees to ensure a person’s attendance at hearings, for example having to obtain a permit from the court when travelling, but they cannot place a condition asking the individual not to go to a protest, she said.

The government has started implementing stronger measures in the crackdown against opposition protests, which escalated after the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 22.

President Abdulla Yameen today ratified an amendment to the Civil Service Act which bars civil servants from holding posts in political parties and taking part in political activities.

The amendment comes at a time where several state owned companies have been accused of firing opposition supporters for participating in anti-government protests.

Since March 1, at least four employees of State Electric Company Limited and one from Malé Water and Sewerage Company were dismissed, and at least five were suspended from Maldives Ports Limited.


Maldives will “emerge victorious over adversarial states,” says President Yameen

The Maldives will “emerge victorious over adversarial states,” President Abdulla Yameen has declared, slamming alleged foreign interference in domestic affairs following the conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges.

Addressing supporters at a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) rally last night, President Yameen reiterated that exercising authority over either the Prosecutor General or the judiciary would threaten constitutional separation of powers.

“God willing, God Almighty will grant us just rulers. And God will grant our state the courage to remain steadfast in Islam and the guidance of Islam. And God willing, we will emerge victorious over adversarial states,” Yameen concluded his remarks by saying.

“We are on the righteous path. We will not go astray. God willing, no matter how small, this Maldivian state will have the courage to hold fast to Islamic guidance.”

President Yameen’s remarks follow international concern over the lack of due process in the rushed trial of the opposition leader. Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the military to “forcibly abduct” Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Lawyers and Judges Gabriela Knaul last week urged the Maldives to guarantee that Nasheed’s appeal would respect the most stringent fair trial and due process standards.

Yameen went on to say that other countries believed the Maldives does not enforce the law, “but we are telling those states that the law is enforced in the Maldives the same as it is in those states.”

Cases were tried through independent courts and sentences were implemented after an appeal process, he added.

Trials should be conducted swiftly to ensure justice, he continued, claiming that terrorism cases involving up to 1,500 defendants were completed in 48 hours in England.

“We don’t go criticising the mechanisms there. And we don’t request getting into the courtrooms there,” he said.

“But when it’s the Maldives, because we are a small country, [they] want to meddle in everything we do. No. That day is in the past. The Maldives, this Maldivian state, will no longer give room for that.”

By calling on the president to release Nasheed, Yameen said both the opposition and foreign parties were inviting the president to commit an “impeachable offence”.

The president was not responsible for either the PG’s decision to prosecute or the court’s verdict, he said.

Exercising oversight over the PG was the task of parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee, he continued, questioning why opposition MPs have not summoned the PG so far.

The president ordering the PG not to prosecute or withdraw charges in a specific case would amount to “obstruction of justice” and violation of the constitution, Yameen said.

Related to this story:

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

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

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

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

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

Foreigners cannot meddle in domestic affairs, declares President Yameen


Broadcasting Commission to investigate Criminal Court barring Rajje TV from court proceedings

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) is to investigate the Criminal’s Court’s decision to bar Raajje TV journalists from court proceedings.

The opposition aligned broadcaster was barred from the Criminal Court after a Rajje TV journalist and cameraman videotaped an alleged meeting between Judge Abdul Bari Yoosuf and Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin at Café Layaali in Malé on Sunday night.

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

MBC has also decided to investigate whether Rajje TV journalists had breached codes of ethics by videotaping Muhsin and Bari at the café.

Muhsin has denied the meeting took place, claiming he had been at the café for a separate meal with his family. The PG has said he would resign if the meeting could be proved.

Raajje TV crew said they were forced to delete the footage after a ruling party MP and gang members arrived at the café and threatened them.