Parliament sitting adjourned amid disorder

Today’s sitting of parliament was adjourned by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed amid vociferous protests by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs over an amendment proposed to the parliamentary rules to require a vote ahead of debating bills and resolutions.

MDP MPs accused the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) of attempting to “silence the voice of the minority party” by blocking debate on resolutions.

The PPM together with the five MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) have a combined 48 seats in the 85-member house.

Under the existing rules or standing orders, bills and resolutions submitted to the People’s Majlis have to be tabled in the agenda and debated on the floor ahead of a vote.

If MPs decide to accept a bill or resolution following preliminary debate, it would be sent to committee for further review ahead of a final vote.

Previously, motions without notice – which opens the floor for a one-hour debate on matters of urgent public importance – submitted by MDP MPs have been defeated by the majority party.

In July, pro-government MPs voted against a motion without notice submitted by MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy to debate the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) controversial decision to clear Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed of misconduct over his appearance in a series of sex tapes.

Imthiyaz revealed to the press this week that Speaker Maseeh – a member of the PPM – had sent a letter on Saturday (August 16) to the general affairs committee requesting the revision.

Imthiyaz noted that a resolution he submitted in July calling for a parliamentary debate on the JSC decision regarding Justice Ali Hameed’s sex tapes has yet to be tabled in the agenda by the speaker.

Today’s sitting became disorderly during debate on a report (Dhivehi) compiled by the general affairs committee after evaluating the amendments proposed by the speaker.

The committee had rejected the amendment proposed to section 77(a) after MDA MP Ahmed Amir voted in favour of a proposal by Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ahmed Mubeen to keep the section unchanged.

The proposal was passed with five votes after Amir voted with JP and MDP MPs on the committee.

However, PPM MP Jameel Usman proposed the same amendment during today’s debate, prompting MDP MPs to object with points of order.

Several MDP MPs also sprang from their seats and surrounded Usman while he was proposing the amendment. Under the rules, once an amendment is proposed to a committee report and seconded, the speaker must put it to a vote.

MDP and JP MPs accused the ruling party of attempting to overrule the committee decision by using their majority in the full house floor.

However, Usman reportedly said later that he was not in favour of requiring a vote ahead of preliminary debates for bills and resolutions, claiming that he was going to propose giving each party and independent MP five minutes during debates but was shouted down.

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PPM seeking to silence minority voice in parliament, says MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy

Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed has proposed an amendment to the parliamentary rules of procedure to require a vote to accept a resolution before opening the floor for a debate, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have revealed.

At a press conference today, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy explained that Speaker Maseeh – a member of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – had sent a letter to the general affairs committee requesting the revision.

Under the existing rules or standing orders, a resolution submitted to parliament has to be debated on the floor ahead of a vote.

Imthiyaz contended that the move by the majority party – which holds a comfortable majority in the 85-member house – was intended to “silence” the minority.

If the amendment is brought to the rules, Imthiyaz explained that resolutions submitted by the main opposition party would not be put up for a debate. A vote would first be called on whether or not to accept the resolution.

The MP for Maafanu North noted that a resolution he submitted in July calling for a parliamentary debate on a controversial decision by the Judicial Service Commission clearing Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed of misconduct has yet to be tabled in the agenda by the speaker.

The resolution was submitted after pro-government MPs voted down a motion without notice submitted by the MDP for a parliamentary debate on the issue.

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JSC Chair Adam Mohamed set to face no-confidence vote

Chair of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed is set to face a no-confidence vote introduced by fellow commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahmaan.

Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru, Rahman said that he had filed the motion earlier this week but that the Commission Chair Adam Mohamed had refused to table it during last Wednesday’s commission meeting.

“When I first filed the motion, the Secretary General of the Commission said that he could only table the motion with a proper reason. Then I told him all the reasons why the motion should be filed. But still Adam Mohamed refused to table the motion. Now he has unofficially said that he would table the motion in coming Monday,” he said.

Even though the motion has yet to be officially introduced, Rahman said that some members of the commission had talked about how the commission was currently running.

Rahman claimed that the motion was filed because the entire commission is now in a state of limbo and that Commission Chair Adam Mohamed had been abusing his powers.

Among other reasons for the motion to be filed, Rahman claims included the JSC’s failure to look into the leaked sex-tape scandal of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, and abusing the power to release press statements on behalf of the commission.

Rahman alleged that Adam Mohamed has also repeatedly requested the High Court to expedite the case concerning the legitimacy of Hulhumale Magistrate Court while other important cases concerning the commission were still pending at the courts.

“There are several other issues regarding Adam Mohamed. Even other members of the commission discuss these and have on some occasions said that a motion of no confidence against Adam Mohamed needs to be filed.  However none of those attempts materialised,” he said.

Rahman added that no member of the commission opposed the idea of filing a no-confidence motion against Adam Mohamed.

Rahman told Minivan News today (August 22) that he is trying to table the motion next Monday, but said that Adam Mohamed has been “very reluctant” to acquiesce.

When asked if he had discussed the matter with other commission members, Rahman said that he did not wish to comment on the outcome of the motion at the moment.

“Right now I am trying to table the motion. But I do not wish to talk about the outcome of the motion. But other members have expressed their concerns over how the commission is being run currently,” he repeated.

The JSC has meanwhile refused to comment on the matter.

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Fifteen year-old’s appeal of flogging sentence for fornication stalled in High Court

State and judicial authorities have failed to provide a timeline for the appeal of a 15 year-old rape victim sentenced to flogging for a separate incidence of fornication, despite repeated pledges and promises of wider legal reform.

The 15 year-old minor from the island of Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll was convicted to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest in February 2013, after confessing to fornication with another man during an investigation into allegations she was sexually abused at the hands of her stepfather. Those allegations arose with the earlier discovery of a dead baby buried in the outdoor shower area of the family’s home.

A month after the sentence was delivered, sources on Feydhoo told Minivan News that islanders had been raising concerns to the authorities over the girl’s abuse by other men on the island since 2009.

Sources at the time accused law enforcement officials, civil society and successive governments of failing on every level to protect the minor.

Widespread international coverage of the sentencing has since led to over two million people signing an Avaaz.org petition calling for her sentence to be quashed, a moratorium on flogging, and reform of laws to protect women and girls in the Maldives.

Despite the country’s international reputation as an romantic island getaway for couples, fornication (sex outside marriage) is illegal in the Maldives and is subject to Sharia punishments under the 1968 penal code.

However, statistics from the Department of Judicial Administration show that flogging sentences are overwhelmingly issued to women. Of the 129 fornication cases filed last in 2011, 104 resulted in sentences – 93 of whom were female.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has dismissed calls to suspend Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed following the judge’s appearance in at least three recently-leaked sex videos appearing to depict him fornicating with unidentified foreign women in a Colombo Hotel room, citing “lack of evidence”.

15 year-old’s appeal stalled

The opening hearing of a High Court appeal of the girl’s flogging sentence, filed on her behalf by Attorney General Azima Shukoor, was held on April 29

The High Court has confirmed to Minivan News that there had been no further hearings in the three months since, and no further hearings scheduled.

However, a legal source speaking this week on condition of anonymity said the hearing in April was believed to have been the last, with the court expected to deliver a verdict on the case the next time it reconvened on the issue.  The appeal is being heard behind closed doors.

The flogging would be administered when the girl turns 18, although local media has previously cited a court official who claimed it could be implemented earlier should the minor request so.

Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham confirmed that the sentence had not been carried out, and reiterated that no date had yet been set for a verdict on the minor’s appeal.

Usham added that a process to oversee legal reforms into the treatment of sexual abuse victims involving state bodies including the Attorney General’s (AG’s) Office was ongoing at present.

“Hopefully something concrete will be announced on this soon,” he said, but could not speculate on a timeline.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government has previously pledged to review and “correct” laws it says victimise young women and minors who have suffered sexual abuse.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad previously expressed hope that the use of punishments such as flogging would be among practices debated as part of reforms.

“I’m sure when we debate [punishing suspects for fornication with lashes], we will find an acceptable solution for all parties,” he said.

More recently, the President’s Office said current legal practices involving the treatment of victims of sexual offences could not be changed overnight, and required gradual implementation.

“We cannot go any faster on the matter than this, we don’t want to see any trouble like in the past. We can’t just go and ask a judge not to [give sentences like this] anymore,” Masood said in May.

The President’s Office today confirmed that Dr Waheed had established a “special committee” as part of efforts to try and oversee the requested legal reforms, referring any specific questions on its work to Spokesperson Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeq.

Thaufeeq was not responding to calls or text messages at time of press.

Recently appointed Gender Minister Dr Aamaal Ali meanwhile requested Minivan News contact the office of former Gender Minister and current AG Azima Shukoor concerning the current status of attempts to reform laws on the treatment of sexual abuse victims.

Azima was not responding to calls or e-mails to her office at time of press.

Local newspaper Haveeru meanwhile last weekend interviewed the judiciary’s official flogger, Abdul Khalig.

“According to his memory, Khalig has enforced flogging sentences of over 300 people which amounts to thousands of lashes with his leather whip,” reported Haveeru.

“But Khalig to this day remains hesitant when it comes to flogging the elderly given their age. But he assures that no old person mostly sentenced for fornication and child abuse had come to any harm as a direct result of the flogging.

“No matter who the person is, this must be done. It is not a cruel punishment. Only one woman fainted whilst I was flogging her,” Khalig told the paper.

“I notice that people who have been flogged, repent and live good lives afterwards. Because this such a small society I see it quite often. People who have been flogged for fornication later go on to live very good lives,” he said, adding that he was now hoping “to impart what he has learned to the next generation before he retires.”

15 year-old’s case “tip of the iceberg”: Amnesty International

Speaking to Minivan News at the conclusion of a nine day visit to the country in April, Amnesty’s South Asia Director Polly Truscott claimed the treatment and controversial flogging sentence handed to the 15 year-old girl was the “tip of the iceberg” regarding the Maldives’ treatment of sexual abuse victims.

Earlier the same month, Maldivian NGO Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) criticised child protection measures currently in place in the country as “inadequate”, urging government authorities to incorporate several key human rights obligations into domestic law.

ARC at the time told Minivan News that although the Maldives has signed and agreed to be legally bound by the provisions in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and its Optional Protocols, the commitments have yet to be adopted into law.

Minivan News meanwhile in June investigated reports of “widespread” child prostitution being conducted in Laamu Atoll, and was informed by a private clinical psychologist that the practice had become “so common” that the victims considered it “normal”.

Multiple sources told Minivan News the practice has prevalent across the Maldives, ranging from male benefactors grooming children with ‘gifts’ to parents actively selling the sexual services of their children – some as young as 12.

Official and public acknowledgement of the “systemic” child sexual abuse remains taboo, although Azima Shukoor – then Family and Gender Minister – in a statement on May 10 to mark Children’s Day revealed that “children being used as sex workers, where the children are sent to places as a means to pleasure people and to gain an income from such a trade. This is being practiced in the Maldives today. Both boys and girls are being used in this trade.”

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Maldives Bar Association calls for suspension of Supreme Court Justice pending sex video investigation

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahee

The Maldives Bar Association (MBA) has called for the suspension of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed pending an investigation into his alleged sexual misconduct.

In a statement, the MBA challenged the independence and transparency of any Judicial Service Commission (JSC) investigation without the suspension of the judge in question.

Hameed is under investigation by both the police and JSC over the circulation of at least three sex videos apparently depicting him fornicating with unidentified foreign women.

Four members of the JSC voted in support of a motion last Wednesday (July 17) against suspending Justice Hameed due to “lack of evidence”, despite recommendations that he be taken off the bench until investigations were concluded.

Following the decision, JSC Deputy Chairman Abdulla Mohamed Didi and Latheefa Gasim resigned from the five-member committee investigating the matter.

The Bar Association, presided over by former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood, said in a statement (Dhivehi) released today that it was “against principles adopted in modern democratic societies” to allow Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed to remain on the bench while he faced allegations of adultery and other concerning conduct.

The JSC last week disregarded a recommendation by its own investigating committee to suspend Hameed, leading the MBA to questioned whether the JSC was capable of reviewing the matter impartially.

The Bar Association said prompt action was needed to verify whether the allegations against the judge were legitimate, in order to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the Maldives judicial system.

Priority, the association argued, had to be given to uphold credibility, integrity and public trust within the country’s legal system rather than “defending the interests” of a single judge.

The statement also called on the JSC to appoint two members to the subcommittee investigated the judge’s conduct that had been left vacant by the resignations of Abdulla Mohamed Didi and Latheefa Gasim.

Transparency calls for investigation

NGO Transparency Maldives also expressed concern that leaked video footage purportedly of a supreme court judge acting in a “culpable manner” could jeopardise the integrity of the country’s apex court, and public confidence in the wider democratic system.

“There is a duty vested upon all relevant authorities to uphold and protect the integrity of such a important state institution,” the NGO said in a statement (Dhivehi).

“Therefore, Transparency Maldives believes that, in order to ascertain Supreme Court’s credibility and public trust, it is very important for all authorities to reveal the truth behind the accusations as soon as possible.”

The NGO called on authorities and the JSC to refrain from any conduct that could be deemed as “dubious” in their handling of investigations into the judge.

Chief Judge of the Supreme Court Ahmed Faiz has meanwhile urged the public and media to refrain from making statements that would give a negative image of the judiciary, and called for constitutional amendments.

Leaked footage

The video of the Supreme Court Justice allegedly indulging in adultery came into media limelight following the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a senior Council Member of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and former Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry.

Snapshots taken from the video began circulating on social media networks Twitter and Facebook, prompting a police investigation. The police formally notified all relevant authorities including the JSC, the Prosecutor General and President Waheed regarding their investigation into the case.

The JSC is also investigating a further two videos involving the Supreme Court Judge, including spy camera videos of Hameed discussing political corruption of the judiciary with a local businessman, and a meeting with former Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim.

‘Fake’ claims

The footage has been branded a politically motivated attempt to discredit the judge and dismissed as “fake” by local business tycoon, JSC member and presidential candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim,

Gasim has meanwhile said he personally saw no conflict of interest between his bid for the presidency and current role on the judicial watchdog. The presidential candidate  voted against suspending Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed during the JSC vote.

The public’s representative on the JSC, Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, was sharply critical earlier this year of the commission’s conduct and motivations, particularly its “open discussion” of its intent to eliminate Gasim’s rival presidential candidate, former President Mohamed Nasheed, from contesting the upcoming elections.

“It is common now to hear a lot of MDP and Nasheed bashing in commission meetings. This was not how things usually were before. I believe politically biased comments like this have increased since Gasim joined the JSC as a representative of the parliament,” Sheikh Rahman stated in March.

“Gasim even went to the point of asking the UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul when she held a meeting with us to state in her report that it was Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) who torched the courts. I heard him say exactly that,” Sheikh Rahman said.

Knaul’s final report to the UN Human Rights Council following her mission to the Maldives in February, was a damning indictment of the country’s judicial crisis.

JP Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

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JSC votes not to suspend Supreme Court Judge in sex video, due to “lack of evidence”

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has decided not to suspend Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, who is currently under both police and JSC investigation following the circulation of a sex video apparently depicting the judge fornicating with an unidentified foreign woman.

Four members of the JSC voted in support of a motion on Wednesday to not suspend the Supreme Court Justice, over due to “lack of evidence”.

The decision disregarded the recommendation of the JSC’s own five member committee investigating the judge’s conduct in multiple leaked videos.

The four members who supported the motion to not suspend the judge included parliament representative, resort tycoon and presidential candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim, Attorney General Aishath Azima Shukoor, President Waheed’s representative Latheefa Gasim, and Chair of the Civil Service Commission, Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, who was recently dismissed by parliament in no-confidence motion over allegations of sexual harassment, but later reinstated by the Supreme Court.

JSC members Shuaib Abdul Rahmaan, Ahmed Rasheed and Abdulla Hameed did not support the motion.

Following the decision, JSC Deputy Chairman Abdulla Mohamed Didi and Latheefa Gasim resigned from the five-member committee investigating the matter.

The video of the Supreme Court Justice allegedly indulging in adultery came into media limelight following the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a senior Council Member of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and former Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry.

Snapshots taken from the video began circulating on social media networks Twitter and Facebook, prompting a police investigation. The police formally notified all relevant authorities including the JSC, the Prosecutor General and President Waheed regarding their investigation into the case.

The JSC is also investigating a further two videos involving the Supreme Court Judge, including spy cam videos of Hameed discussing political corruption of the judiciary with a local businessman, and a meeting with former Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim.

A question of “details”

Gasim Ibrahim had previously defended Justice Hameed during a campaign rally, claiming that the alleged sex-tape was a “fake”. He was criticised by former Attorney General Husnu Suood for breaching the JSC’s code of conduct.

Attorney General Shukoor defended the commission’s decision claiming that the five member sub-committee needed more details on the case in order to suspend the judge, claiming the decision not to suspend Hameed was to give the committee time to come up with these details.

“The motion was passed when called for a vote. Therefore it must be noted that there was no motion calling to take action against the Supreme Court Justice during the meeting,” read the statement by Shukoor, defending the decision.

Discrimination between judges

JSC member Shuaib Abdul Rahmaan told Minivan News the commission’s enforcement of disciplinary action towards higher and lower court judges lacked consistency, despite all judges sharing the same code of conduct.

“Criminal Court Judge Abdul Baari Yoosuf was previously suspended and asked not to report for work [during a JSC investigation into his alleged sexual assault of a female lawyer].

“However, in the case of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, despite there being much stronger evidence, the commission members are reluctant to take action. Last time, even Azima Shukoor and Gasim Ibrahim voted in favour of suspending Baari,” Shuaib said.

He dismissed Shukoor’s statement stating that a motion to suspend the judge would be re-tabled.

“No, there was no decision reached at the meeting to re-agenda the matter,” he said.

Asked about the specific details the commission was seeking from the sub-committee, Shuaib said that these carried no weight and would not change the course of the investigation.

According to local media reports, the decision led to a falling out between members of the JSC including its Vice Chair Abdulla Didi – who chaired the meeting due to the absence of the commission’s chair Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed.

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Supreme Court Justice’s sex tape a fake, claims business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim

Leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim has defended Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, dismissing the alleged sex-tape involving the judge as a fake.

The video of the Supreme Court Justice allegedly indulging in adultery came into media limelight following the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a senior Council Member of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and former Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry.

Snapshots taken from the video began circulating on social media networks Twitter and Facebook, prompting a police investigation. Last week, the police formally notified relevant authorities including the JSC, the Prosecutor General and President Waheed regarding their investigation into the case.

The notification led the JSC to form its own five member committee to look into the matter.  According to JSC, the committee comprises of three of its members including Vice Chair of the commission Abdulla Didi, commission members Latheefa Gasim and Ahmed Rasheed. Two additional attorneys outside JSC have also been selected to sit on the committee.

Earlier this week local media reports claimed the JSC, in addition to the sex-video, had begun investigating videos of Hameed discussing political corruption of the judiciary with a local businessman, and a meeting with former immigration controller Ilyas Hussain Ibrahim. Both have been circulating on social media.

Speaking during a campaign rally held at Thaa Atoll Veymandoo Island on this Saturday, The JP Presidential candidate – who also sits in the JSC as a representative of the parliament – claimed that Justice Hameed had been victimised by the aides of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The resort owner alleged that Nasheed – who is the presidential candidate of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – commands “a large group of vigilante criminals who will do whatever he demands.”

“They blackmail people in order to keep them in check. They do all kinds of things. Even today, look at that fake video of the judge. [Nasheed] will do what he wants by using blackmailing and other tactics,” Gasim claimed.

Following the MDP’s launched of its youth policy, dubbed ‘Entertainment without fear’, Gasim labeled Nasheed a “monster” claiming that he had done every “despicable act ever to be found in the world”.

The owner of Villa Group also alleged that there were “external forces” assisting those behind the video of the judge, and alleged that the motive of these unidentified forces were to take over state assets, introduce other religions to the country, and create infighting within society.

“There are people in the world that cannot digest the fact that Maldives is a 100 percent Islamic country,” said the resort tycoon, whose Villa Hotels chain in 2011 imported approximately 121,234.51 litres of beer, 2048 litres of whiskey, 3684 litres of vodka and 219.96 kilograms of pork sausages, among other haram commodities restricted to islands deemed ‘uninhabited’.

Violation of JSC Code of Conduct

President of Maldives Bar Association and former Attorney General Husnu Al Suood criticised Gasim’s remarks, alleging he had violated the code of conduct of the JSC.

Suood claimed that Gasim had violated section 24 of the code by making statements in a political forum on a matter currently being investigated by the JSC.

Section 24 of JSC’s Code of Conduct states that a member of the commission shall not disclose any information obtained from the commission by being its member to a third party, except for the purpose of executing the member’s duties.

“In my opinion, it is not fair for Gasim Ibrahim to sit on the JSC while being a presidential candidate.  He must leave the position. That is because these types of conflicts will arise when a commission member is campaigning for the position of presidency,” Suood said.

Suood further highlighted that Gasim, by misusing information from the JSC for his political benefit, had undermined the credibility and impartiality of the state institution.

The opposition MDP followed Suood in criticising Gasim’s remarks, claiming that the JP Leader was defending the sex-tape scandal and incompetent judges for his own benefit.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP Spokesperson MP Imthiyaz Fahmy claimed Gasim was “hell bent on preventing the judiciary from being reformed”.

“Gasim Ibrahim is trying to undermine the entire judiciary for his own business and political interest. Why else is he sitting in the JSC while campaigning for presidency?” Fahmy questioned.

Fahmy alleged that Gasim’s greatest fear was a free and fair judiciary, “where his bribes will not work”.

“Look at his past track record. He has criticised reports produced by top technical experts from reputed international organisations regarding the judiciary. We all know how low he went in dismissing UN Special Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul’s report,” Fahmy said.

Gasim had previously accused UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul of “lying and joking” about the state of the Maldivian judiciary.

During her preliminary observations on the country’s judicial system, Gabriela Knaul expressed concern over the politicisation of JSC – the body constitutionally mandated to oversee the functioning of the judiciary.

“[Gabriela Knaul] claimed that the judges were not appointed transparently, I am sure that is an outright lie. She is lying, she did not even check any document at all nor did she listen to anybody. She is repeating something that was spoon-fed to her by someone else. I am someone who sits in JSC. She claimed there were no regulations or mechanism there. That is a big joke,” Gasim claimed at the time. “She couldn’t tell a bigger lie.”

Fahmy meanwhile called on the parliament members to initiate a motion to remove Gasim Ibrahim from the JSC.

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President expresses “sadness”, JSC “forms committee” over Supreme Court judge sex tape

Police have formally notified the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the Prosecutor General and President Mohamed Waheed Hassan regarding its investigation into the leaked sex-tape of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed.

Still images from the sex tape, allegedly showing the judge committing adultery with an unidentified foreign woman, were circulating on social media networks in Male today.

According to Maldivian law, the crime of fornication is subject to 100 lashes and banishment or house arrest for a period of eight months. However in the absences of witnesses or a confession, video footage is only considered supporting evidence.

The courts regularly issue this sentence, overwhelmingly to women found guilty of extramarital sex. Sentences are carried out in front of the justice building.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has meanwhile confirmed that it was Justice Ali Hameed’s video that is being investigated.

A police spokesperson told Minivan News individuals believed to be involved in the scandal had been either summoned to the police for questioning or had been arrested with a court warrant.

“We are currently investigating two cases concerning the video. One is the case of those who had been using the video to blackmail the people in it, and the other concerns the content of the video,” said the spokesperson.

Asked if there had been any intervention into the case by the JSC – which has previously asserted it has sole authority to investigate matters involving judges – the official said no such communications had been made. He emphasised that “police will not hesitate to take any action as required by law.”

Spy camera video

Last Sunday, a second spy camera video apparently depicting a Supreme Court Justice and a local businessman discussing political influence in the judiciary surfaced on social media networks.

The local media identified the two individuals seen in the video as Justice Ali Hameed and Mohamed Saeed, the director of local business firm ‘Golden Lane’.

The discussion between the two individual revealed how feuds between politicians were settled through the court even when they did not involve any legal disputes.

In the video, the Supreme Court Justice reveals of devious plots by politicians including one that involved a plot of “killing off” DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and refers to a “second person to be killed,” however due to the unclear audio it is not clear what the parties are referring to, or the context of the “killing”.

In another instance, the alleged Supreme Court Justice further went onto reveal his political ‘hook-up’ with Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – the current Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate and half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – claiming that he was one of Yameen’s “back-ups” and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

President Waheed expresses “sadness” over judge’s sex-tape

The video appeared shortly after the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a council member of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and then-Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry – while he was allegedly trying to sell a sex tape of a Supreme Court Justice, believed to be the same tape now subject to police investigation.

However, answering a question posed by local media at a press conference on Wednesday, President Waheed said it was a “very sad” thing for such a video to appear in public.

Taking a deep breath, Waheed said that there were “mistakes from both sides”, suggesting that both Justice Hameed and those who leaked the video were at fault.

“If the video is true, that means serious questions are raised against a Supreme Court Justice. However the video was obtained through planning. Making such videos in order to blackmail senior officials of the state is a huge crime,” Waheed said.

Waheed stressed that it was not within his mandate to take action against judges but appeared optimistic that the authorities would take action against the judge and that the matter would soon be resolved.

JSC irresponsible, says commission member

However, JSC’s member appointed from public, Shuaib Abdul Rahmaan did not share the same optimism.

In an interview with Haveeru, Shuaib contended that the JSC should suspend the judge from the Supreme Court bench while the police investigation was in progress.

Shuaib also alleged that the JSC was irresponsible as it had taken no action on the matter.

Speaking to Minivan News earlier, JSC Spokesperson Hassan Zaheen refused to comment on the case.

“Our legal department will analyse the video and if there happens to be a case which the commission needs to look into, then the department will inform the commission members,” he said at the time.

The JSC subsequently established a five-member committee to look into the matter at today’s meeting, after receiving the letter from police. Local media reported that the committee included commission members Latheefa Gasim, Ahmed Rasheed and Abdulla Didi, and two external lawyers: Hussain Siraj and Mohamed Anil.

Shuaib meanwhile alleged the JSC Chair, Hameed’s fellow Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed, was attempting to cover up the issue.

“Adam, it seems to me is trying to cover up the whole thing,” Shuaib declared.

JSC goes against precedent set by itself

According to Shuaib he had tried to take the matter to the commission meetings, but the chair had initially refused to put it on the agenda.

Instead, Shuaib said the chair of the commission wanted to make the matter a side table business and discuss it off the record.

Highlighting previous precedents in which the JSC had taken action against judges, Shuaib recalled the time former Civil Court Judge Mohamed Hilmee was arrested by police while indulging in sexual behaviour on the beach in front of the Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

Police at the time reported that  Judge Hilmy and his wife Aminath Ali – who was his girl friend at the time – were discovered by police while in a state of undress.

The pair refuted  the charges but the Criminal Court at the time noted that three police constables who witnessed the act had testified stating that “Aiminath’s underwear and pants were down to her knees” and that Hilmy had his “pants down to his knees” as well.

JSC Chair Adam meanwhile disputed Shuaib’s allegations, declaring that the commission would look into the matter in accordance with set procedures and rules.

Justice Hameed, who according to Supreme Court holds a Bachelor of Shari’ah and Qadhaa (Shari’ah and Law) degree from Ummul-Qura University in Mecca, is yet to face any repercussions over the sex-tape and continues to preside over Supreme Court cases.

His most recent appearance was on Thursday June 27, where he presided over the case involving the Bank of Maldives and DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s company Kanbaali Faru Investment. The bank had sought to reclaim loans that had not been paid by Dr Waheed’s presidential running mate.

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Police investigating blackmail case involving Supreme Court Judge’s sex tape

Police have said they are currently investigating a case involving sex tapes of a judge alleged used in a blackmail attempt.

A police spokesperson said investigations are in progress and individuals believed to be involved in the case had been either summoned to the police for questioning or had been arrested with a court warrant.

“We are currently investigating two cases concerning the video. One is the case of those who had been using the video to blackmail the people in it, and the other concerns the content of the video,” said the spokesperson.

Asked if there had been any intervention in the case by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) – who have previously claimed they are the sole authority able to investigate matters involving judges – the official said no such communications were made as of yet, and emphasised that “police will not hesitate to take any action as required by law.”

“In these types of cases, police investigators will look into those behind the blackmailing network, such as who is profiting from it, and will take all necessary actions against those involved,” the official stressed.

The spokesperson added that due to  current laws not being up-to-date with new media and social networks, there remained “slight difficulties” in investigating cases but said that such cases had previously been successfully investigated.

“Our cyber crime department and intelligence department will jointly work in apprehending those involved in blackmailing,” the spokesperson said.

Police urged the public and those who may have been victims of such blackmailing to make use of the police not to give in to the demands made by blackmailers.

Leaked spy camera footage

Last Sunday, a spy camera video apparently depicting a Supreme Court Justice and a local businessman discussing political influence in the judiciary surfaced on social media networks.

The local media identified the two individuals seen in the video as Justice Ali Hameed and Mohamed Saeed, the director of local business firm ‘Golden Lane’.

The spy camera footage, which carries the date January 24, 2013, shows the pair discussing how politicians have been influencing the judiciary.

The discussion between the two individual revealed how feuds between politicians were settled through the court even when it did not involve any legal disputes.

“Politicians can resolve their failures if they work on it, what the judiciary has to do, what we have to do is when these baaghees (traitors) file cases, we should say, ‘That it is a political matter. That it’s not a judicial issue. It’s not a legal issue. So don’t drag us into this. There is no legal dispute,’” the judge is heard saying.

The discussion also revealed a plot of “killing off” DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and refers to a “second person to be killed,”

However, due to the unclear audio it is not clear what the parties are referring to, or the context of the “killing”.

The alleged Supreme Court Justice further went onto reveal his political ‘hook-up’ with Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom – the current Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate and half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – claiming that he was one of Yameen’s “back-ups” and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

The Justice, despite being in Yameen fraternity, boasts in the video that he was a person who “even Yameen cannot play with” and that over time he had “shown Yameen” who he is.

President Waheed’s party implicated

The video came to light shortly after the arrest of Ahmed Faiz – a council member of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and then-Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry – while he was allegedly trying to sell a sex tape of a Supreme Court Justice, believed to be the same tape now subject to police investigation.

Faiz was subsequently dismissed from his position as a party council member. GIP also in a media release claimed that the party would consider expelling him from the party depending on how the police investigation proceeded.

Faiz, who has been placed under remand detention for 15 days, was also the GIP representative at press conferences of the unofficial “December 23 coalition” of eight political parties that organised a mass gathering in 2011 against the allegedly anti-Islamic policies of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

He was present at a press event of the December 23 alliance on January 8, 2012 where the group announced plans for a “mass symposium” for February 24, 2012. He was also present when opposition leaders met then-Vice President Dr Waheed in his official residence at 1:00am on January 31 – seven days before the controversial transfer of presidential power – and pledged their allegiance to the vice-president.

The ex-council member of GIP also participated in the press conference later that night when opposition party leaders called on the police and army to pledge allegiance to Dr Waheed and “not carry out any orders given by President Nasheed.”

Known to be a close aide of President Waheed, Faiz boasted about his influence within the government as a “close confidante” of President Waheed and that he was in a position to embezzle large amounts of money from MBC and the State Trading Organisation (STO) in a leaked audio clip aired on opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News earlier that in light of the developments, Faiz had been sacked from his position in government.

Following the media reporting on the case, JSC Spokesperson Hassan Zaheen told local media that the commission had learned about the video through media reports.

He explained that the legal department would first analyze the video and then decide whether the case was one the commission should investigate.

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