Nasheed calls proposed changes to Supreme Court bench unconstitutional

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has called the plans to reduce the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench from seven to five unconstitutional.

While speaking to the press before departing for a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rallys in Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Nasheed accused President Abdulla Yameen of trying to stack the bench in his favor.

“The constitution states the required procedure to bring changes to the bench of the Supreme Court. After extensive legal council we have deliberated that the proposed changes would be unconstitutional,” said Nasheed.

The amendments brought to the parliament by MDP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef have been rejected by the party after the its national executive council convened and voted that the amendments were against its policies.

Speaking about the amendments, MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih said Shareef had not consulted the party before he submitted the changes.

However, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has signaled the party’s support for the amendments with parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan said all ruling party MPs would support the proposal and that the PPM would welcome judicial reform.

Presenting the bill to the parliament Shareef said that he believed the number of judges on the apex court was too high for a country the size of the Maldives.

Nasheed had previously said that changing the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench would not amount to judicial reform.

Meanwhile, MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – who has announced intentions to contest in the MDP’s 2018 presidential primary – appealed for pro-government MPs to cooperate with the party’s efforts to reform the judiciary.

Moosa described the formation of the current Supreme Court bench as a “shameful” political bargain between the MDP and then–opposition parties in 2010.

Nihan praised both Shareef and Moosa and suggested that the number of judges on the apex court was worth considering.

Former President Nasheed also reiterated party concerns with the annual state budget for the upcoming year which the party has previously labelled as aimless and serving only for administrative purposes.

The Supreme Court has recently been involved in numerous controversies both in and out of the court room.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court used a ‘suo moto’ proceeding – allowing the Court to act as both the plaintiff and the judge – against the Elections Comission (EC).

EC president Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz were subsequently charged with contempt of court and disobedience to order, being sentenced to six months in jail after the court used testimony given in the People’s Majlis independent commission’s oversight committee.

More recently, the court employed a similar ‘suo moto’ proceeding against the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) after it criticised the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the UN Human Rights Council.

The court charged the HRCM with undermining the constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary.  It said that the UPR submission– based on a 2013 report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul – was “poorly researched”, “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.

Knaul’s report had detailed the pressing need for judicial reform, noting that the five-member transitional Supreme Court had been replaced by a seven-member permanent bench in 2010 with “no legal or constitutional basis”.

June this year also saw Judge Ali Hameed – a sitting judge at the Supreme Court – cleared of a sex tape scandal after three recordings surfaced allegedly showing Ali Hameed engaging in sexual acts with three different woman.


Robbery targets offices of senior politicians and Six Senses group

Police are investigating a robbery that yesterday targeted a building containing offices belonging to Vice-President designate Waheed Deen, luxury resort operator Six Senses, and the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Interim Chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that police teams were currently investigating the thefts at the offices, which are all based in the Jazeera Building on Boduthakurufaanu Magu in Male’. However, Haneef was unable to confirm what had been taken during the raids or if anyone had been hurt as a result, adding that it was “too early” to establish whether there was a political motive to the crimes.

According to the local media, a large sum of money is reported to have been taken from the office of Bandos Island Resort, owned by Waheed Deen, whilst significant damage was said to have been caused to the properties targeted during the alleged break in.

Local media reported that a sum of around Rf 1 million was taken from the Bandos office, whilst two safes at the Six Senses office said to contain Rf 200,000 (US$13,000) and US$5000, were also emptied during the raid. Six Senses operates several of the country’s more upmarket properties, including Soneva Fushi.

News agencies said that no money was believed to have been taken from the offices of Reeko Moosa Manik’s Heavy Load company. However, electronic equipment including computers and fax machines were reportedly destroyed as well as official documents, including staff passports.

The intruders also reportedly left several messages for Moosa Manik including, “Moosa, you may have escaped this time but you will be killed,” and “We will vote for you next time if you put some cash next time”.


Sri Lankan men sentenced for illegally importing alcohol in Reeko Moosa’s car

Three Sri Lankan nationals involved in the case concerning the discovery of hundreds of bottles of cheap alcohol in a car belonging to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, have been sentenced to one year in jail.

The Criminal Court identified the three men as Isru Priyankara Disilva Nufehevage, Niroshan Don and Muhaidhee Mohamed.

The four  men were arrested in February last year, while loading 168 bottles of whiskey and menthol gin into a car registered to Moosa, on the same day controversial liquor licensing regulations were unveiled by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Moosa, who was in Singapore at the time of the incident, has maintained that his driver was bribed and the bottles were planted in his car to attack him politically.

Moosa observed at the time that television station DhiTV “has been showing the incident non-stop for 24 hours.”

“The last time I was in an advertisement for a liquid was with my brother in a television ad for Sun-Up,” he said, suggesting that he should now be paid royalties for every bottle sold.

According to the Sunday’s ruling, the expats – including Reeko Moosa’s driver – told the court that the alcohol bottles were “gifts” and that some other people were involved. However, the ruling stated that they were unable provide any evidence to back their story.

Deliberating on the evidence submitted to the court by Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO), the court charged the three men for illegally importing alcohol to Maldives and sentenced each if them to one year imprisonment.

According to the Criminal Court, importing alcohol without a license from the Ministry of Economic Development is prohibited under article 5(b) of Contraband Act of 1975.

Although three men were convicted, the main suspect identified as the leader of the group fled during the police investigation.


MDP to submit minimum wage bill

A bill governing the minimum wage of people employed in the Maldives has been sent to parliament by MDP Parliamentary Group Leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, reports Haveeru.

“Some salaries are increasing day by day,’ Moosa told Haveeru, in reference to the recently-passed MP Privileges Bill, which grants MPs an Rf20,000 ‘committee allowance’ on told of their existing Rf 62,500 salary package.

“It is important for everyone working in the Maldives to be certain of the minimum wage that can be given to them, that is a right of every citizen. That’s why this bill is being drafted,” Moosa said.


MDP needs Adhaalath, says Reeko Moosa

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) could not govern the country without the religious conservative Adhaalath party, MDP Parliamentary Group Leader “Reeko” Moosa Manik has said.

Addressing supporters at the MDP rally on Monday night, Moosa said Adhaalath party has played an important role in the government and had overseen religious matters capably.

“MDP will not sever ties with Adhaalath. That will not happen,” he said. “It would be very difficult for us to carry on with our good governance without the Adhaalath party.”

Moosa apologised to the religious scholars of Adhaalath as he could “say anything when I get too excited”.

“Because we hear every other day someone from the coalition say, ok, we’re leaving now,” he said.

Earlier this year, Moosa attacked senior officials of the Islamic ministry for publicly criticising the government while still “turning up for work every day and regularly collecting pay checks”.

In March, the Islamic ministry came out against regulations revised by the economic development ministry to authorise sale of alcohol in hotels.

The revised regulations were scrapped following public outcry and demonstrations.