“Slide to dictatorship now complete”: opposition reacts to new terror charges

New terrorism charges against three opposition leaders have prompted concern over prolonged instability in the Maldives and raised fears that the government is out to silence the opposition.

The Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla, Jumhooree Party’s deputy leader Ameen Ibrahim and its council member Sobah Rasheed’s terrorism trials on charges of inciting fear are set to begin tonight.

If convicted, they face between ten and 15 years in jail. Imran was arrested from his home last night. Ameen and Sobah are out of the country at present.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned the charges in a statement today: “The government’s use of terrorism charges against opposition leaders at a time when the opposition have expressed their ongoing willingness to engage in talks to end the political crisis is worrying.”

But the president’s office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali today blamed lack of progress in talks on the opposition parties.

“The problem here is the main opposition party MDP and Adhaalath Party are not sincere. The government has set the rules. No prisoner or a person will legal or administrative barrier can participate in the talks,” he said.

The Adhaalath Party and the JP had proposed Imran and Ameen as representatives with the government in separate talks. The new charges mean the government will not accept the pair as representatives.

The ongoing crisis was triggered by the imprisonment of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim. The government has ruled out discussions over the pair’s release.

The MDP’s spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said: “The Maldives’ slide to dictatorship is now complete. There isn’t an opposition leader in the country who isn’t either in jail or facing charges.”

The Adhaalath Party said the charges against the oppositions leaders are “cowardly” and “proof the government is unfaithful to the people and lack the ability to fulfil pledges.”

The JP was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Imran and Ameen were arrested after a 20,000-strong protest on May 1 and accused of encouraging violence in their speeches, which police contends led to protesters assaulting police officers, damaging property, and disrupting public order and safety.

The May Day protest was the largest anti-government demonstration in Maldivian history.

Sobah was arrested from an opposition street protest on May 3.

The MDP chairperson Ali Waheed was also arrested on May 1, but the PG office has reportedly not made a decision on prosecuting the former MP.

The charges against the opposition leaders have sparked outrage on social media.

The former Attorney General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed said she is “in shock.”

Others questioned the government’s sincerity in resolving the political crisis.

Many members of the public Minivan News spoke to previously have also said they are skeptical of a positive outcome from the talks with the government having ruled out Nasheed and Nazim’s release.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said: “The Maldivian state has all the characteristics of a criminal organisation.”

JP MP Ali Hussein said the government will not enact the new penal code until it has jailed all the opposition leaders.

The new penal code, which would repeal the 1990 Anti-Terrorism Act, was set to come into force in April. But ruling MPs delayed its enactment until July.

Meanwhile, the government has drafted a new Terrorism Act. MP Hussein in a separate tweet said: “Under the terrorism law even a tweet of mine could be an act of terrorism.”

The only MP of the Adhaalath Party, Anara Naeem, said she does not want “a culture where criticism of the government leads to jail sentences.”

Referring to Imran’s arrest, former MP Visam Ali asked: “How long will the police carry out atrocities like this?”

Before his arrest, Sheikh Imran tweeted: “It is not a crime not to follow unlawful orders even if the orders come from the police.”

Other opposition politicians remained defiant. Former ruling party MP Ahmed Mahloof said: “Do what you can do now. God willing, tyrants will be answerable before the law and will face justice soon enough.”

The opposition has called for a third mass protest on June 12. The mayor of southern Addu City on Sunday said he will be in Malé for the protest.

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PG awaiting court report to decide on appealing Jaleel acquittal

The prosecutor general’s (PG) office is awaiting a case report from the criminal court to decide on appealing the acquittal of defence minister Moosa Ali Jaleel on terrorism charges.

The 10-day appeal period expired yesterday, but the PG media officer Hisham Wajeeh told Minivan News today that the High Court could accept appeals after the deadline if there is a valid reason.

“We only got the verdict. We couldn’t make a decision on the appeal without studying the points noted in the trial, which will be in the summary report,” he said.

The PG office will appeal if it believed there are valid grounds after studying the report, he said.

Five senior state officials were charged with terrorism and tried separately over the detention of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

The court said there was insufficient evidence to prove the involvement of Jaleel, who was then-chief of defence forces.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed was meanwhile found guilty of terrorism last month and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Then-defence minister Tholhath Ibrahim was also sentenced to 10 years in jail over the judge’s arrest.

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Tholhath vowed not to release Judge Abdulla even if he were to be jailed for 30 years, says witness

Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu vowed not to release Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed even if he faced 30 years in jail as a consequence, a state witness testified at the then-defence minister’s trial on terrorism charges today.

Lieutenant Ali Ihusan, who served as Tholhath’s personal assistant, told the court that he heard the minister saying he would not release Judge Abdulla.

Following the arrest, Ihusan said Tholhath called Nasheed concerning orders to release Judge Abdulla from the High Court and was told to ignore and file the orders without the defence minister’s signature.

At the last hearing of his trial, Tholhath claimed the operation to arrest Judge Abdulla – dubbed ‘Liberty Shield’ – was initiated by Nasheed and carried out by then-Malé Area Commander Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi, currently opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for mid-Hithadhoo constituency.

Both Nasheed and Didi are also on trial on charges of terrorism along with then-Chief of Defence Forces Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel – appointed President Yameen’s defence minister in January – and ex-Colonel Mohamed Ziyad.

Ihusan also said Didi was in charge of the operation and followed instructions from Tholhath and Nasheed.

However, Ihusan said he did not witness Tholhath issuing operational commands, noting that all orders were signed by Didi.

Operation Liberty Shield

Ihusan said he personally delivered two letters to Tholhath from then-Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh and then-Home Minister Hassan Afeef on January 16, requesting assistance from the military in arresting Judge Abdulla.

Tholhath asked Ihusan to provide copies to Jaleel, saying the letters “could save us one day,” Ihusan testified.

Ihusan also said there was a separate attachment with letters from Nasheed’s then-legal secretary, Hisaan Hussain, requesting an investigation of Judge Abdulla’s alleged obstruction of police.

Jaleel said at a hearing of his trial earlier this week that he participated in meetings between the heads of the police and military to discuss challenges posed to law enforcement and domestic security by the Criminal Court’s alleged release of dangerous criminals and refusal to grant search and arrest warrants to police.

Ihusan also revealed that a meeting with all senior military officers above the rank of colonel took place on January 15, 2012, a day before the chief judge’s arrest.

The state’s second witness, Colonel Abdul Raheem Abdul Latheef said he participated in the top level meeting, but could not recall any discussions on detaining the judge.

The meeting was about assisting police operations and investigations, he testified.

Latheef said he visited Judge Abdulla at Girifushi Island five to six times, accompanying visitors including members of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM).

The colonel noted that Tholhath ordered him to be present at some of the meetings.

Latheef revealed that Tholhath himself visited the judge at the military training island, alongside several civilian visitors whom he could not recall.

Concluding tonight’s hearing, the judges said another hearing on the case would be scheduled tomorrow.

Chief of Defence Forces “Uninvolved”

At today’s hearing of former Chief of Defence Forces Jaleel’s trial, four state witnesses reportedly backed up the current defence minister’s claim that he was not involved in the judge’s arrest.

Both Ihusan and Colonel Latheef testified that Jaleel did not participate in meetings concerning the judge’s arrest and was not consulted by Tholhath.

Dr Ali Shahidh, a military doctor, Aishath Zeena, a psychologist, both of whom attended to the judge during his detention also testified to not receiving any orders from Jaleel.

While hearings of Jaleel, Tholhath, and Nasheed took place today, the Criminal Court did not schedule hearings for ex-Colonel Ziyad or MP Ibrahim Mohamed Didi’s trials.

Didi was hospitalised on Sunday night after complaining of chest pains. His family told Minivan News yesterday that the retired general would be flown overseas as soon as doctor’s gave approval.

All five defendants have pleaded not guilty to the terrorism charges. The charges were filed under Article 2(b) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 1990, which criminalizes kidnappings, forced disappearances and abductions and carries a jail term of between 10 to 15 years.

Judge Abdulla’s arrest sparked 22 consecutive nights of violent anti-government demonstrations that culminated in a police and military mutiny on the morning of February 7, 2012, forcing President Nasheed to resign in what he subsequently called a “coup d’etat.”

In January 2013, Tholhath told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee that Nasheed had not resigned “under duress.” However, Tholhath had previously claimed that Nasheed’s life was in danger on February 7, 2012 and that the former president had no choice but to resign.


Related to this story

Nasheed ordered Judge Abdulla’s arrest, says Tholhath

Judges Didi and Yoosuf refuse to step down from Nasheed’s terrorism trial

Nasheed denies ordering Judge Abdulla arrest, granted three days to answer charges

Chief Judge “took entire criminal justice system in his fist”: Afeef

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Australia concerned over civil unrest following Nasheed’s arrest, trial

Australia has expressed concern over rising political tension in the Maldives following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest and subsequent trial on terrorism charges.

In a statement on Tuesday, Australia said High Commissioner Robyn Mudie had registered Australia’s interest with the Maldivian government and would “continue to monitor the developments closely.”

The Maldives Police Services arrested Nasheed on February 22, claiming he may abscond from a terrorism trial over the abduction of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012. If convicted, the opposition leader faces a jail term or banishment between ten and 15 years.

Over 10,000 opposition supporters took to the streets on Friday calling for Nasheed and former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim’s release. Nazim is currently in police custody amidst a trial on importing and possessing illegal weapons.

Protesters also called for President Abdulla Yameen’s resignation. Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) supporters have continued daily protests since February 10.

In its statement, Australia encouraged “all parties to exercise restraint, act in accordance with the rule of law, and resolve differences peacefully.”

“As members of the Commonwealth, Australia and Maldives share important democratic values, including free speech and the right of opposition groups to participate fully in the democratic process,” read the statement.

“As a fellow Indian Ocean country and Commonwealth member Australia has a keen interest in supporting peace, rule of law and democracy in the Maldives.”

Australia has warned its citizens in the Maldives to exercise a “high degree of caution” when visiting capital Malé.

The statement follows a meeting between a government delegation and Mudie in Colombo. The delegation included ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) Parliamentary Group leader Ahmed Nihan, PPM Spokesperson and MP Ali Arif, Minister of Law and Gender Mohamed Anil and Minister of Presidential Affairs Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Shareef.

According to Nihan, the delegation also briefed Russain Ambassador Alexander A. Karchava, British High Commissioner John Rankin, and Qatari Ambassador Rashid Shafie Saeed Al-Fahida Almerri.

The government maintains it has no influence over Nasheed and Nazim’s trials, arguing the charges were pressed by an independent Prosecutor General and tried through independent courts. The trials are important to uphold the rule of law, ruling party officials have said.

Meanwhile, responding to a question in the UK parliament on Monday, British State Minister of State, Foreign and Common Office Hugo Swire said he was concerned over the “continued detention of former President Nasheed.”

Swire said that it was important for “international confidence in the Maldives that Mr Nasheed, like all other citizens, is seen to be enjoying due legal process and respect for his fundamental rights.”

Canada, Commonwealth, EU and the UN have previously expressed concern over Nasheed’s arrest and trial after he was denied legal counsel at the first hearing. He appeared in court with his arm in a makeshift sling after police manhandled and dragged him into the court building when he attempted to speak with journalists.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon last week hit back at international expressions of concern, insisting the state was following due process in Nasheed’s arrest and prosecution.

“Those who prefer to issue public statements about an on-going legal case, or on a domestic political situation, are advised to do a basic fact check, before bandwagoning on to accusations made by a political party,” Dunya said in a statement.

“To criticize us in public statements with lies or biased with having only heard the oppositions point of view is not acceptable. The government will not accept these statemetns and will not pay attention to them.”

Speaking to the press on February 24, Dunya questioned the value of the Maldives remaining a member state of the Commonwealth, claiming the organisation had “wronged” the Maldives before by placing the country on a watch-list in the wake of the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

However, UK High Commissioner to the Maldives John Rankin last week said that he does not believe asking the Maldives to abide by commitments under UN conventions amounted to “undue interference.”

In an interview with private broadcaster Raajje  Tv, Rankin said decisions on domestic  matters were up to the Maldives as a sovereign nation.

“But it is legitimate for one country to [remind] another country to abide by the undertakings which together we have signed up to,” he explained.

Photo of meeting between Australian High Commissioner and government delegation by MP Ahmed Nihan


Related to this story:

Nasheed denied right to appoint lawyer and appeal “arbitrary” arrest warrant, contend lawyers

Judges Didi and Yoosuf refuse to step down from Nasheed’s terrorism trial

EU, UN join international chorus of concern over Nasheed’s arrest, terrorism trial

Foreign Minister Dunya slams Canada, Commonwealth statements on Nasheed prosecution

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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.

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PPM MP Musthafa calls on PG to withdraw charges against Nasheed

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Mohamed Musthafa has called Prosecutor General Muthaz Muhsin to withdraw terrorism charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The MP for Thaa Thimarafushi told newspaper Haveeru yesterday that there were no legal grounds to raise terrorism charges against the opposition leader.

The military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed could not be an act of terrorism, the pro-government MP said.

Moreover, the “whole country should be ashamed” of the police manhandling Nasheed outside the court building on Monday, he added.

However, Musthafa denied rumours that he would be joining the Jumhooree Party.

Formerly an outspoken member of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Musthafa defected to the PPM shortly after last year’s parliamentary election.

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Comment: Why we must object to the farce of a ‘trial’ against Nasheed

This article first appeared on DhivehiSitee.com. Republished with permission

On Sunday, former President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, was arrested. The arrest warrant issued by Criminal Court stated “terrorism charges brought against the subject and fears that he may not attend the Court or go into hiding” as reason for arrest.

The evidence and substantiation for Court decision was given as, “how matters had transpired when a case against subject was heard at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, and Police Intelligence reports”. The arrest warrant was provided on the request of the Prosecutor General who was according to the arrest warrant, “investigating case”.

Till then, there had been no mention of terrorism charges against Nasheed by any authority nor had an investigation into terrorist activities by Nasheed taken place.

Local media soon reported the trial has been scheduled in Criminal Court for 4pm today, and it emerged that the Prosecutor General had filed new terrorism charges in Criminal Court after withdrawing the case against Nasheed pending in Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court for over two years as Nasheed challenged the cherrypicking of his trial bench by the Judicial Service Commssion and the procedural appeals dragged on without decision.

As the new trial begins in a couple of hours, there is more reason than ever before to object to the farce.

  1. The current Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin is a former Criminal Court judge, who worked as a junior judge under Criminal Court chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed who is himself the subject in the case against Nasheed.
  1. Media reports the Criminal Court has selected a bench of three judges – Judge Abdulla Didi, Judge Ahmed Rasheed and Judge Shujau Usman – for the case.

The first two are both former members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) who played crucial roles within JSC in both re-appointing Abdulla Mohamed as judge despite him not meeting criteria and pending serious misconduct issues, and in covering up misconduct after re-appointment.

Moreover, both carry bias against Nasheed evident in JSC records, especially in discussions of misconduct allegations against Judge Abdulla Mohamed filed with the JSC by the President’s Office in 2009 when Nasheed was in office.

Judge Didi served on the JSC from it’s establishment as an interim commission in 2008 till 2015 as the lower courts appointee. Ahmed Rasheed elected by the law community served on the JSC from 2009 to 2015 and was appointed a Criminal Court judge by the JSC just days ago.

The third, Shujau Usman, was re-appointed a Magistrate by JSC despite a criminal record and was one of three magistrates cherry-picked by the JSC for the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench for Nasheed’s case.

Nasheed’s trial then is not simply political persecution by the government of President Yameen but an already orchestrated trial, managed by the JSC, with the Prosecutor General and the Criminal Court bench already set against Nasheed and ready to avenge Abdulla Mohamed.

Meanwhile, heading the JSC today is Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed infamous for his white underpants and sex tapes gone viral on the internet.

Aishath Velezinee sat on the Judicial Services Commission from 2009-2011.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]e.com

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Security forces did not take “sufficient measures” to control Addu City unrest: HRCM

Security forces did not take “sufficient measures” to control the unrest in Addu City on February 8 as damage to private and public property could have been “minimised” if police and army carried out their duties, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) concluded in its investigative report (Dhivehi) released publicly this week.

On February 8, a brutal police crackdown on supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) sparked riots across the country, with police officers forced off many islands while police stations and courts were burnt down in the southern atolls.

Following reports of police brutality and rumours of the death of a protester in Male’, police stations, police vehicles and the police training academy in Gan, as well as court houses, were set ablaze in Addu City. Addu is an MDP-stronghold and the second most populated area in the Maldives after the capital Male’.

Concluding its report on the events of February 8, the HRCM recommended that the Maldives Police Service (MPS), Police Integrity Commission (PIC) and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) should investigate the failure to contain the unrest and take legal action against security service personnel who were deemed negligent or responsible for the inaction.

MPS and PIC should also “immediately investigate” allegations of torture in custody and inhumane treatment of detainees from Addu City and take action against the responsible police officers, the HRCM recommended.

In addition, the commission stated that legal action should be taken against police officers who were negligent in providing medical treatment to detainees as well as against officers who “violated the dignity of private households and infringed upon the rights of residents” during the arrest of suspects from their homes.

Moreover, the HRCM recommended providing “training and information on not committing cruel or inhumane acts during arrests or in all interactions with those detained at various stages of investigations.”

The report concluded that the unrest in Addu City “caused fear among citizens and deprived them of a number of rights” while “irreparable damages” to police stations, property and court buildings posed “serious obstacles to provision of many basic services.”

The commission stated that it received complaints of torture and inhumane treatment of detainees in the wake of the unrest and widespread arson, noting that fundamental rights of those arrested were not protected “in an ideal manner”.

“Signs of torture”

In its concluding observations, the HRCM noted that 17 people were treated for varying degrees of injuries caused during the unrest in Addu City. The injuries included a fractured bone and half-inch deep head wound.

During a visit to a detention center in Addu City, the HRCM team observed “signs of torture” on the bodies of 10 detainees who alleged mistreatment, including bruises and wounds on most of them as well as a two-inch deep gash on the shoulder of one detainee.

The team also observed “signs of a cigarette burn on the soles of the feet of one detainee.”

Five to six detainees were kept in cells with a capacity for two inmates, the HRCM noted. Detainees in Hulhudhoo were kept handcuffed in the police station’s sitting room, the commission found, adding that the cuffs were only removed for trips to the toilet.

The HRCM investigative team in Addu City corroborated allegations by the detainees that police officers covered their bodies in ash. The commission noted that several detainees were not treated for injuries despite being taken to the Hithadhoo Regional Hospital on February 11.

Moreover, the detainees alleged that in addition to using obscene language in front of family members during their arrests, police officers threatened to kill and torture them and damage their houses in retaliation.

Based on its findings, the HRCM concluded that police actions towards detainees in Addu City following the unrest of February 8 were in violation of constitutional protections as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

However, the HRCM found that rumours of detainees being abused on coast guard vessels were unfounded as there was no evidence to support the claims.

The commission also took note of serious damage to state assets and property – including court documents – as well as personal belongings of police officers, recommending that the state identify and compensate the officers.

Following investigations of arson by the police, the Prosecutor General’s Office pressed terrorism charges against more than 60 individuals from Addu City, including an MDP MP and a councillor.  However, charges have not been pressed against any police officer to date.

On May 30, the PIC issued a press statement revealing that a case against Staff Sergeant Ali Ahmed was forwarded for prosecution after the commission obtained video footage of the accused officer striking an MDP protester while he was on the ground.  It is unclear if the case been filed at the Criminal Court.

Responding to allegations by the MDP on August 15 that the commission was “deliberately delaying” releasing its findings to the public for “political interests”, the HRCM issued a press release stating that its investigation into human rights violations on February 8 was “not an investigation that was initiated following a case filed to the commission” but rather a “self-initiated investigation”.

The commission also claimed that the report had been sent to the relevant authorities on May 28, and that it had additionally shared “necessary information” with the public during a press conference on July 18.

Violence in Addu City

In a press conference on February 10, former President Mohamed Nasheed claimed that police and military were “ransacking Addu City.”

Nasheed claimed that police were working together with members of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), who were “dragging people out from their homes and asking them if they are MDP or PPM. If they say MDP, they are spraying them with pepper, beating them and arresting them.”

Minivan News was contacted by a man, identifying himself as an MDP supporter, who claimed to have been “arrested and beaten” on Hithadhoo in Addu City, at 1:30pm on February 9.

He alleged that he was targeted because the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) in Addu sent a list of people who had participated in protests to the police.

He was taken from his house with his family: “They threw my sister like a dog, and said all kinds of very bad words to my parents.”

He was taken to Gan with 33 others where the station had been burned.

“They poured petrol around us and said: ‘We will burn you, we can do anything because no one knows where are you are and no one will come to save you.'”

The military and police members allegedly removed some peoples’ clothes, sprayed them with pepper spray, and made them all “dance like dolls. They were doing it for their own entertainment, smiling and laughing.”

On February 11, Al Jazeera reported allegations of “savage beatings” by the police and custodial abuse in Addu City with footage of injuries exhibited by victims.

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Addu City MDP MP, councillor face terrorism charges

The Prosecutor General’s Office on Thursday pressed terrorism charges against over 40 individuals accused of setting the Seenu Gan police station on fire on February 8, including Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Rasheed and Addu City Councillor Ahmed Mirzadh.

Terrorism charges carry a jail term of 10 to 15 years.

On February 8, a brutal police crackdown on an MDP march across Male’ sparked riots across the country. The crackdown came after thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets, rallied by former President Mohamed Nasheed who had declared that his resignation the previous day was “under duress.”

In the southernmost atoll of Addu, police stations, police vehicles and a police training academy as well as court buildings were set ablaze.

MDP MP for mid-Hithadhoo constituency, Mohamed Rasheed ‘Matrix Mode’ was arrested in the wake of the violence in Addu City on February 8.

The Prosecutor General’s Office last week pressed charges against 21 people accused of damaging state property.

Trials have already begun for 13 people accused of setting the court house in Hulhudhoo ward of Addu City on fire.

The formerly ruling MDP has meanwhile condemned the “false charges” pressed against “elected representatives of the people of Addu City” and a number of citizens as “politically motivated”.

In a statement on Thursday, the party said it believes the charges represented “a deliberate attempt by the regime to destabilise the country ahead of the Commission of National Inquiry’s report into February’s transfer of power, which is due to be published on August 30.”

“Aside from politically motivated legal action, senior members of Dr Waheed’s regime, including Home Minister Mohamed Jameel, have publicly stated that the regime will arrest President Nasheed and ensure he spends the rest of his life in jail. These statements have been made despite the fact that a trial has not taken place, and while the Minister himself has stated that the ‘judiciary seems to be operating in wanton… and needs to increase public confidence,’” the statement read.

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