MP Ibrahim Didi pleads not guilty to terrorism charges

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, a retired brigadier general, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges at the first hearing of his trial at the Criminal Court yesterday.

The MP for mid-Hithadhoo constituency is facing terrorism charges along with former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim, former Chief of Defence Forces Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel (current defence minister) and retired Colonel Mohamed Ziyad over the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

At the first hearings of the trials – conducted separately – Judge Abdulla Didi gave all five defendants three days to appoint lawyers and answer the charges. MP Didi and Ziyad appeared for the first hearing of their trials yesterday (February 24).

After pleading not guilty, MP Didi – who was Malé Area Commander at the time of the judge’s detention – reportedly posed questions to the state prosecutors.

Describing the charges as “politically motivated,” Didi asked the prosecutors whether the state believed the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and its senior officials carried out terrorist activities.

The decorated veteran also asked whether his trial was being conducted in accordance with Islamic Shariah, and if so, under which school of the Sunni sect.

Asked to respond, the state prosecutor told the judge she would answer at the next hearing.

Didi also questioned whether the terrorism trial was his reward for risking his life in defence of the nation during the November 3, 1988 failed coup attempt by a group of Maldivians and Tamil mercenaries.

Didi – a corporal and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s bodyguard at the time – played a pivotal role on November 3 by carrying the keys of the armoury from Machangoalhi Kinbigasdhoshuge to the besieged military headquarters before soldiers ran out of ammunition.