PG appeals Kulhudhuffushi Magistrate Court decision to release arrestees in Hodaidhoo raid

The Prosecutor General (PG) has appealed the decision made by the Kulhudhuffushi Magistrate Court to release those arrested during the raid of the uninhabited island of Hodaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll .

According to local media reports, the PG filed the appeal with the High Court on Monday, but it remains unconfirmed as to whether the court has accepted the case.

Speaking to Minivan News, an official from the PG confirmed the appeal was filed but declined to provide any details as the case was pending in court.

Spokesperson for the Department of Judicial Administration (DJA) Latheefa Gasim was not responding to calls at time of press.

The Maldives Police Services (MPS) on last Thursday night arrested two MPs and senior figures in the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), for the alleged possession of drugs and alcohol. Police in a statement released following the arrests claimed that 10 people were arrested during a ‘special operation’ on the island.

Among the arrestees wre ruling coalition Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir and MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – also the party’s international spokesperson – along with former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to the former President, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz.

The others arrested were Jadhulla Jaleel, Hamdan Zaki, two Sri Lankan nationals named Raj Mohan and Anoor Bandaranayk as well as a Bangladeshi named Suhail Rana.

The island of Hodaidhoo was leased to Yacht Tours for resort development in January 2003. According to Haveeru, it was previously inhabited but the population was relocated to Haa Dhaal Hanimadhoo in 1997. Kaashidhoo MP Jabir is Chairman of Yacht Tours.

Police claimed they found large amounts of “suspected” drugs and alcohol upon searching the island with a court warrant.

The arrests were made “based on information received by police intelligence,” police said. Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Haveeru that the suspects were arrested with alcohol and “hash oil”.

Following the arrests around midnight, the suspects were taken to Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll, and Zaki was hospitalised.

Despite a police attempt to extend the detention periods all suspects including the two MPs were released by the Kulhudhufushi Magistrate Court, with the exception of Hamdan Zaki.

The arrests were met with severe condemnation by the opposition MDP and the former Human Rights who both claimed that the arrests were politically motivated ahead of the parliamentary vote to make impeachment votes a secret ballot.

MDP claiming the arrests were a politically-motivated stated that it was an attempt to disrupt parliament ahead of a no confidence motion against President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, and an amendment to voting procedure to make such votes secret. A second no-confidence motion against Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel was withdrawn this week pending the outcome of the secret vote amendment.

“It is such a coincidence that whenever the Waheed government wants to frame those critical of their government, they come up with trumped up charges and very often it is something to do with alcohol,” said former MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi, in a statement.

Wife of Jabir and former Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed, who was sacked from her ministerial position following the outburst, claimed that the arrest was politically motivated to threaten MPs ahead of the parliamentary vote.

Saeed along with her husband gave a press conference following the release where she demonstrated through role play, the exact manner in which the police had brutalised her husband, acting out how and where the police had hit him.

“In my career, I have always had to take the side of the police and defend their actions, although I have never found it easy to accept their brutality towards citizens. But this time, I have seen too close the violence they dealt out. No one should be beaten up, regardless of what the charges for arrest are.” She said.

Meanwhile the Jabir claimed that the arrest seemed more like a “terrorist killing operation” that was intended to finish off the MPs who opposed the views of the government.

“We had gone there to have dinner and spend the night on the island, but at about 4:00am, when most of the group were asleep, we were confronted by hundreds of police. They said we were drinking alcohol, so I asked them to show a warrant and they didn’t have one. They then started hitting and beating us, they wanted to kill us,”

“This did not feel like a police operation, it felt like a terrorist killing operation and it should not be acceptable anywhere in the world,” Jabir told Minivan News at the time.

However, police maintained that they handled the operation very “professionally” and had not brutalised anyone while making the arrests. Police also released a video of the operation to the media.


MDP to petition for removal of Prosecutor General

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) intends to file a petition with parliament to remove Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz from office.

The petition was announced during a party rally last evening at MDP headquarters during which MP Mohamed Shifaz requested MDP Chairperson MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik “do this on behalf of our members who are always calling for a better judicial system”.

Shifaz said there are “many reasons why we don’t have confidence in the PG, and why many politicians have legal issues with the PG not sending cases to court.”

“Also he has good relations with [Chief Criminal Court Judge] Abdul Ghazee, people say they are always having coffees. We believe they shouldn’t have this kind of relationship in public.”

Calling for the PG’s arrest, Fuvahmulah MP Shifag Mufeed accused Muizz of incompetency in investigating corruption cases.

“To be honest, it’s the PG’s obligation to investigate the alleged US$800 million corruption case and the fact that he has failed is testament to his incompetence and violation of constitutional law”, Mufeed told local media earlier today.

The corruption case implicated former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half brother Abdulla Yameen for alleged involvement in an international money laundering racket involving the Burmese oil trade.

PG Muizz could not be reached at time of press.

Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem has said the PG Office has not been contacted by MDP, but noted that nothing required the party to communicate with the accused.

“To remove the PG a party would have to first send the motion to a committee, which would forward the motion to the Parliament floor, where the motion would only be passed with a two-thirds majority,” Shameem explained.

“But previously the PG’s position has been that if the government files a ‘no confidence’ vote in Parliament, he will resign.”

Shifaz told Minivan News that the petition would be available for signing at MDP Haruge after 8:00pm this evening, and that all citizens of any party are invited to sign.

“Our main aim is to build a better judicial system. What happened in the past, we don’t want to see again,” Shifaz said, adding that the party hoped for 5,000 signatures. He said the matter still needed to be discussed by MDP’s parliamentary group.

Local media has reported that the party intends to submit the petition to Parliament within the next two days. Parliament is currently on recess until March. However, Parliament’s petition committee president and MDP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed has been requested to expedite the process.

Nasheed said, “if I get any petition I will go according to house rules.”

MDP’s motion comes 24 hours after the PG sided with the High Court and Supreme Court in requesting the release of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested on January 16 for corruption and for “allowing his judicial decisions to be determined by political and personal affiliations and interests”, according to a statement by Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem.

The courts subsequently cancelled hearings, and the Supreme Court ordered the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) to release the judge. The MDNF today confirmed that the judge was still being held and no decision had been made regarding the court order.

PG Muizz yesterday told media that police are required to consult the PG before taking a judge into custody.

Article 223 of the Constitution requires the PG to “(a) to supervise the prosecution of all criminal offences in the Maldives” including “(d) to oversee the legality of preliminary inquiries and investigations into alleged criminal activity; (e) to monitor and review the circumstances and conditions under which any person is arrested, detained or otherwise deprived of freedom prior to trial.”

Police provided crowd control outside judge’s home at the time of the arrest.

MNDF confirmed that their officers had taken the judge into custody but did not wish to comment on matters concerning their level of obligation to the PG.

Meanwhile, in a hearing of the case filed by the judge against the police summon Deputy Solictor General Ahmed Usham said MNDF does not have the authority to make arrests related to criminal offences, reports local media.

Ushaam alleged that the Attorney General’s (AG) Office had received no details of the arrest except from what had been reported by local media.

The Criminal Court also ordered the PG to prosecute the the Chief of Defence Forces within the next three days, along with others involved in “contempt of court”.
A group of lawyers filed a similar case at the High Court yesterday after MNDF ignored orders from both the High Court and Supreme Court for Judge Abdulla Mohamed’s immediate release.
Shifaz maintained that MDP’s petition “has nothing to do with the Chief Judge’s arrest”.