Pro-government MPs vote against debating JSC decision on Justice Ali Hameed

Pro-government MPs have voted against a motion without notice submitted by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Imthiyaz Fahmy to debate the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) decision last week to clear Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed of misconduct over his alleged appearance in a series of sex tapes.

The early motion – which would have opened the floor to a one-hour debate – was defeated with 44 votes against and 18 in favour at the ongoing sitting of parliament.

Presenting the motion, MP Imthiyaz said the JSC decision was “a permanent stain” on the Maldivian judiciary and an obstacle to judicial reform.

Following the vote, Imthiyaz tweeted:

The presence of a disgraced judge on the Supreme Court bench – who most citizens believe has lost his integrity – threatens the independence of the apex court, adversely affects decisions of lower courts, and robs Maldivian citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a free and fair trial, the party contended in a press statement this week.


MDN to seek court order compelling JSC to reconsider Judge Hameed decision

The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) is considering seeking a court order to compel the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to reconsider its decision to clear Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed Mohamed of misconduct over his alleged appearance in three sex tapes.

Citing lack of evidence and the police’s failure to identify the individual in the sex tapes, the judicial watchdog decided last week that disciplinary action could not be taken against Justice Hameed.

In a press release today, MDN expressed “surprise” at the JSC investigating the case as a criminal offence as the commission’s constitutional mandate was investigating complaints involving ethical misconduct.

MDN noted that the evidentiary requirements or standards applied for establishing guilt in a criminal case differed from cases of alleged ethical misconduct.

The JSC’s “confusion” on this legal principle “offers room for the public to question the competence of the commission,” the MDN stated, calling on the oversight body to reconsider the case.

In a press statement explaining its decision, the JSC had noted that the police had closed investigations until new evidence emerged and that the sex tapes had been collected during an investigation into an attempt to blackmail a judge.

Moreover, the tape may constitute an act of espionage as it appears to have been filmed by an unauthorised body and it is against the constitution to obtain evidence by unlawful means, the commission noted.

The JSC – chaired by Supreme Court Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla – also referred to a contentious Supreme Court’s ruling on former Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, which stated that disciplinary action could only be taken with sufficient evidence.

Local media has since reported that the decision to clear Justice Hameed was reached unanimously by six members on the 10-member commission after Shuaib Abdul Rahman – public representative on the JSC – walked out.

The six members were Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi, High Court Judge Abdulla Hameed, president’s member Mohamed Faisal and lawyers’ representative Ahmed Rasheed.

The two remaining members – CSC Chair Dr Mohamed Latheef and Attorney General Mohamed Anil – were reportedly on holiday.

“Permanent stain”

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also put out a statement yesterday (June 29) condemning the JSC decision, characterising it as a “permanent stain” symbolising “serious wrongdoing”.

With the JSC decision, the statement added, Maldivian citizens expecting judicial reform have “lost all hope” along with any confidence in the judiciary.

The JSC decision has set a precedent suggesting that engaging in sexual relations with prostitutes, which is then made public in a sex tape, “is not a problem at all,” the opposition party stated.

“Therefore, we note with serious concern that this country’s judiciary would henceforth be shaped by those standards.”

The MDP statement also referred to a JSC subcommittee recommending suspending Ali Hameed, which the party stated was wilfully disregarded by the commission, as well as documents of a corruption case against the apex court judge being destroyed in a coffee spill.

The JSC had strayed from the standards established for investigating ethical misconduct, stalled the investigation for over a year, and “sacrificed the independence of the judiciary and the constitution” for the sake of protecting Justice Hameed, the statement continued.

The Maldivian judiciary should learn that disgraced judges accused of corruption and blackmail should be suspended pending the outcome of a swift investigation, the party stated.

The presence of a disgraced judge on the Supreme Court – who most citizens believe has lost his integrity – threatens the independence of the apex court, adversely affects decisions of lower courts, and robs Maldivian citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed right to a free and fair trial, concluded the party.


Stalled Ali Hameed cases “exposes state of Maldivian judiciary,” says MDP

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed “surprise and concern” with the revelation yesterday (May 4) that documents of a corruption case against Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed were destroyed in a coffee spill at the Criminal Court.

An official from the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office told Minivan News that the Criminal Court requested resubmission of the case files three weeks ago, but has so far refused to present the allegedly damaged documents.

Justice Hameed is facing charges over the illegal transfer of credit from his state-funded mobile phone in 2010.

In a press release yesterday, the main opposition party stated that the lack of progress in cases involving Justice Hameed as well as “these incidents that occur when a case reaches court exposes quite well the state of the Maldivian judiciary.”

“As the documents of the corruption case raised by the state against Ali Hameed were destroyed after coffee was spilled on them, the party hopes that the Criminal Court will not decide that the charges cannot be proven for that reason,” the MDP’s press release stated in conclusion.

The Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) regulations stipulate that action must be taken within 48 hours of a criminal case being filed against a judge. However, the judicial oversight body told local media last month that a decision would be made once the court decides to hear the case.

The Criminal Court’s media official told Minivan News on April 13 that the court had not decided whether or not to accept the case.

Cases filed by the PG office are scrutinised in the order of submission “to make sure all the paperwork is complete and that there are no missing documents,” he said. The process normally takes “two to three days,” he added.

The case against Justice Hameed – accused of abuse of authority to benefit a third party – was sent to the PG office in July 2013 by the Anti-Corruption Commission after investigating allegations in the 2010 audit report of the Department of Judicial Administration.

Auditors found that a Supreme Court Justice transferred MVR2,223 (US$144) from his state-funded mobile phone on different occasions during 2010.

Sex tapes

Justice Hameed is also the subject of investigations by both the police and the JSC over his alleged appearance in a series of sex tapes that emerged in May 2013.

A further video showed Hameed and a local businessman, Mohamed Saeed, discussing political influence in the judiciary.

After the secretly taped videos of Hameed engaging in sexual relations with three prostitutes in a Sri Lankan hotel room surfaced online, the JSC set up committees to investigate the case twice – in May and December 2013.

Both subcommittees unanimously recommended the JSC suspend Hameed pending an investigation.

However, in July 2013, the JSC disregarded the recommendation citing lack of evidence, while a JSC decision on the December subcommittee’s recommendation is still pending.

The MDP meanwhile stated that disgraced judges accused of corruption or blackmail should be suspended pending the outcome of a trial, noting that the practice was “regrettably” alien to the Maldivian judiciary.

Justice Hameed’s continued presence on the Supreme Court bench violated international best practices and judicial norms, the party contended.

Other cases

Meanwhile, the 2010 audit also discovered that MVR13,200 (US$856) was spent out of the apex court’s budget to repair a state-owned car used by an unnamed Supreme Court Justice, later revealed in the media to be Justice Hameed.

According to the police report cited by auditors, the driver of the justice’s car was responsible for the accident, which occurred on January 23, 2011.

However, the official driver insisted the car was undamaged when he parked and left it the previous night.

Despite the findings of the audit report, in March 2011 the Supreme Court dismissed allegations of corruption reported in local media regarding phone allowances and use of court funds to repair Justice Hameed’s car.

Moreover, in September 2011, the ACC began investigating allegations that over MVR50,000 (US$3,200) of state funds was spent on plane tickets for Justice Hameed’s official visit to China in December 2010.

The complainant alleged that Hameed also visited Sri Lanka and Malaysia both before and after his trip to China to attend a conference by the International Council of Jurists.

A return ticket on a direct flight from Malé to Beijing at time cost MVR16,686 (US$1,080).

Furthermore, in May 2012, the ACC revealed that Justice Hameed was among three sitting judges illegally occupying state-owned apartments.