Court extends detention of Adhaalath Party leader, MDP chairperson

The criminal court has extended the remand detention of Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) chairperson Ali Waheed by 10 days and seven days, respectively.

The pair were arrested in the wake of the May Day anti-government demonstration with court warrants and accused of inciting violence.

The criminal court subsequently ordered police to the opposition leaders in remand detention for 15 days. The 15-day period expired today.

Ali Waheed and Imran were brought to the remand hearing at the criminal court today and escorted back to the Dhoonidhoo detention centre.

The High Court last week rejected appeals from the pair challenging the legality of the criminal court’s remand detention orders.


High Court upholds detention of MDP chairperson, Adhaalath Party leader

The High Court has upheld the criminal court’s order to hold Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party chairperson Ali Waheed in remand detention for 15 days.

However, the appellate court has released Jumhooree Party deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim from police custody, overturning the criminal court’s 15-day remand order.

The three leaders of the allied opposition parties were arrested from their homes with court warrants on the night of May 1. All three subsequently filed appeals at the high court challenging the legality of the criminal court’s remand detention orders.

The arrests followed a crackdown on the May Day anti-government demonstration. Nearly 200 people were arrested after protesters clashed with riot police.

The opposition leaders were accused of inciting violence against the government and threatening police in their speeches on May 1, which police contend led to protesters assaulting police officers, damaging property, and disrupting public order and safety.

The High Court noted in the verdict in Ameen’s case that according to police an intelligence report and an audio recording of Ameen’s speech as evidence to the criminal court.

The criminal court judge accepted the report but did not accept the CD with the recording. Police had said at the appeal hearing that the report did not have a verbatim transcript of Ameen’s speech.

The criminal court judge had not determined whether Ameen had incited violence and encourage criminal offences before deciding that he posed a danger to society, the three-judge panel of the High Court ruled unanimously.

In Ali Waheed and Imran’s cases, the High Court ruled that the criminal court order was lawful. The judges dismissed procedural issues raised in the appeal and noted that police do not have to submit enough evidence to prove guilt to be granted a request for extension of detention.

However, in Ali Waheed’s case, judge Ezmirelda Zahir issued a dissenting opinion, while judges Ali Sameer and Abdulla Hameed issued the majority opinion to uphold the lower court order.

Waheed saying that protesters must go home after freeing imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed was not sufficient to determine that he threatened police or posed a danger to society, Zahir noted in her dissenting ruling.

All three were members of the opposition ‘Maldivians against tyranny’ alliance’s steering committee, which organised the protest.

Journalists were not allowed to observe the appeal hearings under a new rule that bars media from appeals of detention orders.

The criminal court has meanwhile issued an arrest warrant for JP leader Gasim Ibrahim, who is currently out of the country. The business tycoon is accused of funding the May Day demonstration.


Police, Criminal Court exchange blame over release of alleged drug traffickers

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) and the Criminal Court have blamed each other for the release yesterday (October 3) of two suspects arrested on charges of drug trafficking.

The two suspects were taken into custody on Thursday (October 2) after about 1kg of drugs were found in their possession. The pair were reportedly arrested after they loaded a vegetable box containing the drugs into a car upon arriving in Malé from the airport.

According to local media, the suspects were released because they could not be brought before a judge for extension of remand detention 24 hours after the arrest.

The justice building was closed when police took the suspects to the Criminal Court on Friday and the 24-hour period elapsed at 1:30pm.

Under Article 48 of the Constitution, judges must determine the validity of detention with 24 hours of an arrest and decide whether or not to authorise pre-trial detention.

An official from the Criminal Court’s told local media that police were informed in writing that the court would open at 2:00pm on Friday.

If police were aware that 24 hours would elapse before then, the official said police should have brought the suspects to the court on Thursday.

Aside from confirming the release of the suspects, police have declined to comment on the incident.


JSC denies reports of ethical misconduct case against new prosecutor general

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has denied allegations made by opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV that it had found Criminal Court Judge Muhthaz Muhsin guilty of ethical misconduct.

Muhsin was approved as the new prosecutor general by parliament yesterday following his nomination to the vacant post by President Abdulla Yameen and sworn in at a ceremony this morning.

In a press release on Sunday (July 20), the judicial watchdog body said it had not “concluded any complaints” against Muhsin.

“[T]he news reported by and Raajje TV claiming that [Muhsin] has been found guilty of ethical misconduct is false and the commission regrets with concern that such false information has been disseminated,” the press release stated.

The JSC explained that complaints against judges are scrutinised by the commission’s complaints and investigation section, which submits a report to the ten-member commission for consideration.

The commission then decides to take disciplinary action following further investigation by a subcommittee after offering a 30-day period for the accused judge to respond.

JSC Spokesperson Hassan Zaheen told Minivan News yesterday that the commission could not confirm whether a complaint had been filed against a specific judge.

The JSC provides information to the public once an investigation has been completed and a decision made regarding a complaint, he explained.

“Anyone can submit complaints about judges, even if a person did not like the way a judge was walking on the street for example,” he said.

Judges “could not live in this country” if the JSC revealed to the media when a complaint has been lodged against a judge, Zaheen suggested.

Leaked report

Raajje TV reported this week that an investigative report into a complaint filed against Muhsin in April 2010 was completed on May 30 this year.

The leaked report showed that a subcommittee found Muhsin had violated ethical standards by allegedly attempting to prevent a suspect arrested for theft from being held in remand detention.

Muhsin allegedly called the investigating police officer and Criminal Court judges at the behest of the suspect’s wife.

In testimony to the JSC subcommittee, the police officer allegedly said that Muhsin had called him asking whether the suspect was in police custody and had sought information regarding the case.

The television station has stood by its news report, noting that the leaked investigation report bore the JSC letterhead.

Raajje TV also noted that opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MPs who evaluated Muhsin’s nomination in the parliament oversight committee had requested that information of the complaint be sought from the JSC.

However, the pro-government majority on the independent institutions oversight committee rejected the proposal.

Meanwhile, according to local media, the case in question involved former Chief Inspector Mirfath Faiz, whose husband was arrested for stealing a mobile phone in 2010.

In a Civil Court case over her subsequent dismissal from the Maldives Police Service, the Attorney General’s Office informed the court that Faiz had called Muhsin to save her husband from being taken to the Criminal Court to have his detention extended .


The JSC is tasked by the constitution with investigating complaints and taking disciplinary action against judges.

According to the JSC’s annual report for 2013, the commission has yet to conclude investigations or make a decision regarding 106 cases, which were pending at the end of last year, including one complaint dating back to 2008 and four complaints from 2009.

Other pending cases included 13 complaints from 2010, 16 complaints from 2011, 17 complaints from 2012 and 55 complaints from 2013.

The complaints against judges involved allegations of bias, lack of integrity, behavioural misconduct, discrimination, incompetence, procedural violations, inordinate delays in concluding cases, and breach of law and the constitution.

In a comprehensive report on the Maldivian judiciary released in May 2013, UN Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, noted that there was consensus on the view that the current composition of the JSC was “inadequate and politicised”.

“Because of this politicisation, the commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly,” she wrote.

Moreover, the lack of transparency regarding proceedings over complaints, the criteria used to initiate proceedings, and JSC decisions “nourishes serious allegations of selectivity in the management of complaints.”


Court extends detention of four suspects in 24kg drug smuggling case

The Criminal Court has extended pre-trial detention of four suspects arrested in connection with the smuggling of 24kg of heroin in March to 15 days on Friday (July 4).

According to police, the suspects include three Maldivian men and a Bangladeshi man while the remand detention of a fourth Maldivian was extended to seven days on July 1.

Last week, the Criminal Court denied ordering the deportation of two Pakistanis arrested in connection with the case after police claimed the court had ordered their transfer to the care of the Immigration Department.


Suspect in Afrasheem murder case transferred to house arrest

The Criminal Court has reportedly transferred Azleef Rauf, a former Maldives National Defence Force officer suspected of involvement in the murder of MP Afrasheem Ali in October 2012, to house arrest.

In May this year, Rauf was detained on charges of terrorism, extortion, and involvement in criminal gang activities, after which the court extended his remand detention.

While a case against Rauf over alleged involvement in the murder of the moderate religious scholar was sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office in September, the case has yet to be filed at court.

Rauf is also facing separate charges of extortion, theft, and damaging public property along with former Judicial Service Commission member Mohamed ‘Reynis’ Saleem.